What is HVAC/r?

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

HVAC/r stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning with Refrigeration sometimes in the acronym. While that sounds good, what does it mean when we're talking about the real world?

Since the dawn of humanity, people have been trying to tame the elements to keep comfortable. HVAC/r started with campfires for warmth about 2 million years ago and continues changing how we heat and cool our homes, making living in the most extreme conditions possible. HVAC/r, along with electricity to run, is at the heart of most the modern convenience people take for granted. Each word of HVAC/r is its own engineering field, so for clarity i'll be addressing each part of HVAC/r separately in a diffrent post, today i'll start with heating.


What is heat? Heat is an energy; the result of the movement of tiny particles called atoms, molecules or ions in solids, liquids and gases. Heat energy can be transferred from one object to another. The transfer or flow due to the difference in temperature between the two objects is called heat.

Heat can change the molecular structure and state of an atom or compound if enough heat is applied. Ice melting to water, then boiling to evaporation is an everyday example of heat transfer. Another example we see daily would be cooking. From caramelization of sugar or an onion, to the perfect sear on steak, heat is at the heart of cooking. Too much, things burn, too little heat, people can get sick.

Heating does a lot more than just cook and melt ice in the modern world. Every home built now has a hot water heater in the US. Buildings have heating systems, where the climate gets cold, that can vary from electric, hydronic, steam, and geothermal to name a few methods. These convenience heats became a standard in living and homes can't be occupied unless the basics of hot water are met.

There are some things heat does that don't get the credit heat should. Fractionation, or the process of breaking crude oil down to a multitude of different chemicals is driven by heat. Any oil derived plastic has been heated to make that plastic possible. Dyes on clothes only set at high temperature, or the color washes off the fabric. Metal forged in billions of different shapes only can be formed by heat. Without the mastery of heat, the modern world would be impossible.

Heating work can vary from a tune-up/pm(system inspection, cleaning, and testing), emergency calls, water leaks, soot calls, to full system installs. Also when dealing with heating, fires, fire prevention, and proper/safe combustion knowledge is key to the work carried out by technicians. It's this work that makes each day different from the last and makes every situation unique.

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