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What Exactly Is an Air Handler?

While most homeowners are familiar with their HVAC system overall, they don't know about one of the most important parts of it: the air handler. Today, HVAC experts share information about what it is, what problems a breakdown may cause, and how to keep it working smoothly.

What Exactly Is An Air Handler?Diagram of AC Unit

Air handlers, also known as air handling issues (or AHUs), are devices attached to the HVAC system. They regulate and circulate the air in the home, and connect directly to the ductwork ventilation system. That allows the air handler to distribute the cool, "conditioned" air throughout the home, eventually returning it to the air handler unit. However, in some cases, the air handler can still work efficiently without ductwork.

There are generally two different sizes of air handler - small AHUs and large AHUs. Small air handlers are often known as "terminal" units, while the larger units are referred to as "makeup" air units (MAUs) or fresh air handling units (FAHUs). 

There are also outdoor use only air handlers, known as "packaged" units (PUs) or "rooftop" units (RUs). 

What Parts Make Up An Air Handler?Air Handler Parts

The HVAC unit's air handler is made up of several components. The main component is a large metal box with the rest of the parts inside of it. Inside of that box are a few different parts essential to the function of the air handler - a blower, the heating or cooling elements, filter chambers or racks, dampers, and sound attenuators. 

A small air handler unit has fewer components then a larger unit as well. These terminal units often only hold a blower, coil, and air filter and are also occasionally called "fan coil" units or "blower" coils.  

All of these parts work closely together to form a fully functional, air handler system that helps "handle" the air throughout the home to keep it comfortable all year round. If even one of these parts stops functioning as it should, the result is a failure of the entire HVAC system.

The Importance of Air Handler ServicesTechnician giving a thumbs up

Like every part of the HVAC system, air handlers can break down and create problems when it comes to home comfort. This is why air handler services and proper maintenance of the entire HVAC system is so incredibly important to a home's efficiency and safety.

Common problems that happen specifically with air handlers include the following:

  • Obstruction of airflow: This is often related to the clogging of the HVAC unit's air filter.
  • Failure of the blower motor: Motors go bad for many different reasons, but the result is the same - the failure to be able to move air through the home.
  • Dirty evaporator coils: This also inhibits the ability of the air handler to create cool air.

HVAC and air handler maintenance should occur on a regular schedule, at least once or twice a year, to ensure the system stays in good working order. Homeowners should also focus on monitoring and changing their air filters regularly to avoid any breakdowns.

About Burnside Air Conditioning, Heating & Indoor Air Quality

Since 1958, Burnside Air Conditioning, Heating & Indoor Air Quality has been performing HVAC services for Allen, Texas and its surrounding areas. They perform a wide variety of heating and cooling services, and can help with your air handler. Their team offers tailored solutions, no-surprise pricing, and unparalleled levels of service.