Helpful tips

If own a fairly modern home, chances are it is heated and cooled through a central, whole-home, Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC). The HVAC may well be one of the most expensive and energy hungry systems in the home, so the more you know about your HVAC, the better. A well-informed homeowner will save money and have a healthier, more comfortable home.

System Components

Central HVAC systems are often called “split” systems because some of the components are installed inside the home and some of the components are installed outside a home. Inside your home, usually installed in the basement, attic, or a closet, you’ll find the furnace (oil, gas, or electric) and the evaporator portion of the air-conditioner. You’ll also find the blower (sometimes called an air handler), which serves both the furnace and the air-conditioner. Attached to the blower are ducts, which are tubes acting as pathways to deliver heated or cooled air to various rooms in your home.

Do You Smell Something Funny?

Strange sounds and smells are both big red flags that there might be something wrong with your HVAC system.

If your A/C air smells unusual, you should look into an HVAC repair especially if you notice a musty smell or an electrical smell. A musty smell can signify a mold issue, and an electrical smell can be a sign of a bad part or faulty electrical wiring.

Specific noises you should be listening for include:

  • High-pitched whistling, which can be a sign of clogged filters or blocked ducts
  • Rattling, which usually indicates broken hardware
  • Buzzing or humming, both of which are a sign of a failing fan motor or capacitor
  • Metal clanging, which often signifies damaged fan blades
  • Loud pops on engagement, which point to clogged air filters or an improperly sized duct.


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