How Your Heating System Works - Part 4

Pull up a chair and get comfortable. It’s time for Home Heating 101, Part 4. This is a series from the folks here at GAMA Air to help you folks in and around Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino to understand how your central heating system works. The more you know about how your home is heated, the better you will take care of it, and the most you will get out of your investment. Our last discussion was to explain exactly what is a heat pump. And now we move on to the next level. How does it heat your home? 

The fuel used by a Heat Pump is electricity, but that doesn’t mean the electricity is being converted directly into heat. There are heaters that do it that way, like electric space heaters (think of a toaster style heater). In the case of a heat pump, the electricity powers a process that uses refrigerant to move heat. If you are a graduate of our Air Conditioning 101 course then you know this phrase from Part 1 very well: “An AC does not make cold air, it just moves heat from the inside of your home to the outside of your home.” And in our last post we said that a heat pump is an AC that works in reverse. Putting those two ideas together gives us this: A Heat Pump does not make warm air; it just moves heat from the outside of your home to the inside of your home.

The outdoor unit is the heart of your heat pump home heating system. Regardless of the brand or how old or new it is, the outdoor unit has three major components: 1) a Compressor, 2) a Fan, and 3) a Coil. Obviously, there are a lot more parts and pieces to make the whole thing run, but to simplify the explanation we’ll focus on those three. Although the outdoor unit is the heart of a HP system, it needs the indoor unit to do its share of the work. The two units work together as a single system. The indoor unit, which was pictured in Part 3 of Home Heating 101 has two major components: 1) a Fan, and 2) a Coil. Again, we are simplifying matters for the sake of discussion. The indoor unit has other parts, and they are significant in the functioning of your home’s heating system.

What connects these two units? What makes them work as a team? The answer is: Refrigerant. Refrigerant is a substance that can be a liquid and it can be a gas, depending on its temperature and the pressure it is under. As an example, think of H20. When it is a liquid, we call it water. When it is a gas, we call it steam or vapor. Water turns to vapor when it boils, but at what temperature? Typically, at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100°C). However, what if you are using a pressure cooker? Water will continue being a liquid up to about 250°F (121°C) because of the higher pressure. The same thing happens with refrigerant. At lower pressures it is a gas, but as the pressure is raised high enough it becomes a liquid.

There’s more coming up soon in our lessons about how your home heating system works. So, come on back for more!

Need help right away with a problem in your home’s heating system? Call GAMA Air at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a visit at a time convenient to you for a service call. We guarantee your satisfaction 100%.

Do you just want a quick answer to a question you have? Visit our Ask an Expert page and let us know what your questions is. Our resident expert will respond quickly to help you.

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