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A substantial part of maintaining a comfortable and healthy living environment is ensuring your household’s HVAC system functions efficiently. As your locally owned and operated HVAC company in the Durham Region, Fortis Heating & Air Conditioning is committed not just to providing exceptional service—from inspections and repairs to installations and recommendations—but also to helping homeowners understand their HVAC systems better. Our aim with this blog post is to enlighten you about the fundamentals of your HVAC system, how it functions, and its key components.

When we talk about HVAC, we’re referring to the system responsible for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning in your home. These systems essentially control the indoor climate of your home, ensuring year-round comfort regardless of external weather conditions. Knowing the basics of how your HVAC system operates can be incredibly advantageous for homeowners. Beyond just understanding what’s happening when you alter your thermostat, it also equips you with the knowledge to identify potential issues sooner—often before they escalate into a costlier or more disruptive problem.

Your HVAC system comprises several key components, each of which plays its unique role in providing you with optimal indoor air comfort. These include the furnace, air conditioner, ductwork, thermostat, and so on, all working in harmony to heat, cool and circulate air throughout your home. Each of these components deserves our attention, as understanding its function can translate into better maintenance routines, timely repairs, and improved system longevity.

The HVAC industry continually evolves, with new technologies and systems designed to enhance energy efficiency and our homes’ comfort level. As such, staying abreast of such advancements can be an excellent step towards ensuring that your HVAC system remains up-to-date and delivers peak performance.

So join us as we embark on this educational journey geared to empower you as a homeowner and help you make informed decisions about your HVAC system. By the end of this, we hope that a thermostat won’t just be another dial on the wall but a tool you understand and can use efficiently to maintain indoor comfort and minimize misuse and energy waste.

1. Key Components of Your HVAC System

Your HVAC system is composed of several core components, each playing its unique role in heating, cooling, and distributing air throughout your home. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these essential parts:

  • Furnace: The furnace is the heart of your heating system, usually fueled by natural gas, propane, or electricity. It heats air and transfers it to different areas of your home through ductwork.
  • Air Conditioner: Air conditioners are typically located outside or in a separate area of your home, removing heat from indoor air to cool your living space. The cooled air is circulated through your home via the same ducts used for heating.
  • Ductwork: These passages, made from materials like metal, fibreglass, or flexible plastic, are used to distribute conditioned air throughout your home and return it to the HVAC system to maintain a consistent indoor climate.
  • Thermostat: Your thermostat is the control center of your HVAC system, allowing you to set the desired temperature for your home. Thermostats can be programmable, smart, or connected, offering various features and levels of automation.

2. Understanding Heating and Cooling Processes

To maintain a comfortable indoor climate, an HVAC system must effectively heat and cool your home. Let’s delve into the science behind these processes:

  • Heating: The furnace heats the air, either by burning fuel or through electric heating elements. A blower fan then pushes the warmed air through the ducts and into your living space.
  • Cooling: An air conditioner’s cooling process relies on the principle of heat exchange. Refrigerant, a substance that absorbs and releases heat, passes through a series of coils inside the air conditioner. As warm indoor air blows over the cool evaporator coils, the refrigerant absorbs the heat, cooling the air. The refrigerant then moves along to the condenser coils, releases its absorbed heat outside, and the cycle repeats.

3. Ventilation: Ensuring Indoor Air Quality

Ventilation is a crucial aspect of any HVAC system, as it maintains healthy indoor air quality by circulating fresh air and removing stale air, contaminants, and moisture from your home. There are two primary types of ventilation systems:

  • Natural Ventilation: This type of ventilation relies on openings like windows and doors, as well as air leaks through the building’s envelope, to facilitate airflow. However, this can be an unreliable and inefficient solution for maintaining consistent air quality.
  • Mechanical Ventilation: This system uses fans and ducts to bring fresh air into your home and distribute it while simultaneously exhausting stale air. Such systems can include heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) or energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), which transfer heat between the incoming and outgoing air, ultimately improving your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Maintaining and Upgrading Your HVAC System

Regular maintenance plays a vital role in ensuring your HVAC system remains efficient and provides long-lasting comfort. Here are some critical maintenance tasks:

  • Air Filters: Regularly clean or replace air filters to ensure optimum airflow and prevent contaminants from circulating through your HVAC system and home.
  • Inspections and Tune-Ups: Schedule annual professional inspections to identify potential issues, ensure system efficiency, and carry out tune-ups. A qualified HVAC technician, like those at Fortis Heating & Air Conditioning, can assess your heating and cooling components to guarantee their optimal function.
  • System Upgrades: Stay informed about emerging HVAC technologies, enabling you to make educated decisions on possible upgrades, such as smart thermostats or energy-efficient equipment. Regularly upgrading or retrofitting your system ensures it remains up to date with current industry standards and maximizes energy savings.


Understanding the fundamentals of your HVAC system empowers you as a homeowner to make informed decisions about your system’s maintenance, upgrades, and overall management. By knowing the key components, processes, and the importance of proper ventilation, you will be equipped to maintain the comfort, efficiency, and longevity of your HVAC system. 

As a leading HVAC company in the Durham Region, Fortis Heating & Air Conditioning is here to facilitate informed decision-making and cater to all your heating and cooling needs. Reach out to our team of experts to ensure the best performance of your HVAC system with our HVAC maintenance service in Oshawa. Schedule your appointment today!

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