News And Education

Make informed decisions

Glossary of industry terms

January 26, 2016 7:01 pm

It can be unnerving to call for equipment service when you’re unsure about how the appliance works and what all the different components are called. Or, if you’re reviewing your invoice at a later time and don’t recall what the technician explained, you may feel a little lost. In order to alleviate a little of the uncertainty, below are some common terms and parts.

Gas Valve: A valve that controls the flow (pressure) of gas to the furnace burners.

Heat Exchanger: The heat exchanger in your furnace separates the flue gases (such as CO) from your household indoor air.

Ventor (Inducer) Motor: A small motor located inside the front of your furnace. It pulls the flue gases from the burners and through the heat exchanger.

Blower Motor: This is a fan that moves air through the duct system in your home.

Circuit Board: The circuit board controls the sequence of operations and modern boards provide notification of potential problems via LED lights.

Pressure Switch: A safety device that prevents the furnace from operating if unsafe conditions occur (e.g. blockage due to lack of maintenance).

Flame Sensor: The flame sensor is a safety device inside the furnace that detects the heat and communicates to the circuit board to allow the burner(s) to stay lit.

Condensate Pump: In the absence of a conveniently located drain, a condensate pump is used to move condensate to a plumbing drain.

Damper: A plate or gate placed in a duct to control air flow.

Refrigerant: A chemical used in the air conditioning process. Freon or R-22 has been phased out and has been replaced by Puron or R-410A, a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.

SEER: SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The SEER rating is the method of measuring the amount of electricity used by the air conditioner during operation, the higher the SEER rating, the less electricity that is used. The Canadian government’s minimum for air conditioners manufactured after 2006 is 13.0.

Condensing Unit: The part of the air conditioner that is outside your house. It contains the compressor, condenser coils and fan motor.

Compressor: Inside the condensing unit, the compressor, with the help of a fan, moves refrigerant through the condenser coils to be cooled.

Contactor: The contactor is a switch in the condensing unit that receives a signal from the thermostat to turn the compressor and fan motor on & off.

Disconnect: A power shutoff, usually mounted on an outside wall next to the condensing unit.

Evaporator Coil (A-coil): Installed next to, or on top of, your furnace. Hot air moves across the cool coil and the cooled air is then circulated through the house.

Vent Pipe: The pipe that carries flue gases (products of combustion) out of your home, to the outdoors.

Filters: The main purpose of the furnace filter is to protect the equipment from all of the dust, hair and other particles that the return air duct pulls in. It also helps the quality of the air inside the home. Filters are rated using the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). Ratings range from 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the smaller the particles that the filter can remove, 8 to 11 is adequate for most homes. Rodman’s recommends pleated filters as they facilitate high airflow efficiency (when changed regularly).

The filter should be checked monthly and replaced on average every 3 months. Permanent reusable (washable) filters should be vacuumed off and cleaned at least every 3 months, they last an average of 5 years. It is important to use a properly fitting filter in order for it to be most effective. The size should be written on the filter, or refer to your furnace manual.

Single Stage: The furnace always runs at 100% of its capacity (heat output & blower speeds).

Two Stage: The furnace runs at approximately 60% its capacity most of the time and only 100% on the coldest days.

Modulating: The furnace is constantly adjusting the heat output to match the heating demand. It can run from 40% to 100% of its capacity, adjusting by 1% increments as needed.