What Is an Air Handler and How Does It Work?

How Does an Air Handler Work?

Many homeowners wonder, “what is an air handler?” If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. Many people have never heard of this important piece of HVAC equipment. A Perfect Climate Heating & Cooling explains what an air handler is so you can better understand the essential parts of your heating and cooling system.

What Is an Air Handler?

An air handler is the indoor component of a split HVAC system. It is typically paired with a heat pump and is located inside the home. You can usually find the air handler installed in a basement, attic, garage, or utility closet. The air handler does resemble a furnace, as they are often around the same size and shape.

Parts of an Air Handler

An air handler is a component of an HVAC system that moves heated or cooled air from the indoor unit into the ducts and onto the living areas throughout the home. To gain a better understanding of what an air handler is, you need to know its key parts. The air handler includes an evaporator coil, a blower motor, and an air filter.

  • The evaporator coil and the refrigerant flowing through it remove heat from circulating air in cooling mode and add heat when a heat pump operates in heating mode.
  • The blower motor circulates heated or cooled air from the air handler into the ducts and onto the living areas throughout the home.
  • The air filter removes contaminants from circulating air before it passes into the air handler for heating or cooling.

How Does an Air Handler Work?

An air handler’s job is to handle the home’s air, moving it through the system for conditioning and into the home for comfort. Air passes through the filter and into the air handler, where the evaporator coil extracts heat energy to cool the air or adds heat energy for heating. Conditioned air is blown through the ducts and into living spaces by the air handler's blower motor.

Air Handlers Vs. Air Conditioning

An air handler is a term often used interchangeably with an air conditioning unit, but they are actually two different things. If you aren’t familiar with what an air handler is, you may have the two units confused. While air handlers are often used with heat pump systems, they can also be paired with air conditioners.

While an air handler is the indoor HVAC unit with evaporator coils and a blower motor for air distribution, the air conditioner sits outside and contains the condenser coils and compressor. Refrigerant runs between the two units and their coils, moving heat from one area to the next. The evaporator coil removes heat and the condenser coil releases heat outside.

How to Maintain Your Air Handler

An air handler is a driving force within your heating and cooling system. It contains the machinery that helps to circulate warm or cool air throughout your home.

One of the most important things to remember about air handlers is that they need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. If they're not kept in good condition, they can start to produce moisture which can cause mold growth and other serious problems. Filters should be changed on a regular basis and your air handler will need a professional maintenance tune up once or twice a year, depending on whether or not it is used for cooling only or both heating and cooling.

Air Handler Services in Indianapolis

Whether you need a new air handler installed or repairs or maintenance for your existing unit, contact us today!

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