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Atlantic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog

What Is an Air Handler and Is It Important for My Furnace?


It’s easy for people like us who work in HVAC and are immersed in it every day to forget that most homeowners aren’t familiar with the terms of heating and air conditioning systems in the same way we are. 

One example is the air handler. It can trigger confusion for people who hear “air,” then immediately guess the air handler means the air conditioning system. An air handler is important for an AC, but it does more. We often have to make repairs to air handlers to help with customers’ heating in Delaware. If you have a central furnace heating your house, whether electric or natural gas-powered, an air handler may be a part of how the furnace works.

The Air Handler Explained

The simplest explanation of an air handler is it’s the part of your HVAC system responsible for circulating air through the network of ducts to distribute either heated or cooled air to the rooms. The air handler contains the blower fan, which is responsible for drawing air through the return ducts and then pushing it through the HVAC system, where it’s heated or cooled, and then into the supply ducts that connect to the room.

The blower isn’t the air handler, a mistake people often make. It’s one of the parts of the air handler. The other components include dampers, filters, and mixing chambers. 

Does My Furnace Have an Air Handler?

It may or may not. If you don’t have a central air conditioning system and only a furnace, then all the furnace needs is a blower to handle the job of drawing air into it and then sending it into the supply ducts. 

However, your home likely has a furnace and air conditioner in a single cabinet. In this case, there is a single air handler to serve both. The air handler is usually located at the bottom of the furnace cabinet, where it blows air up through the evaporator coil of the air conditioner and the heat exchanger/heating elements of the furnace. The air handler may often contain the evaporator coil for the AC, depending on the design. 

Furnace Heating Troubles and the Air Handler

Many problems you may notice with your furnace may be due to the air handler rather than components in the furnace itself. For example, if you start to detect uneven heating around the house, with some rooms getting less heat than others, it may stem from the blower losing power or struggling to draw in enough air to send through the furnace. The air handler can cause a circuit breaker to trip and shut down the entire HVAC system. 

Thankfully, you don’t need to know the difference between a malfunction with the air handler and one with the furnace: if you aren’t receiving the quality of indoor warmth you need, you can call our technicians and we’ll find out the source of the problem. Whether the furnace or a part of the air handler, we can correct it and get your home back to the coziness you need.

At Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc. “We Take Pride in Your Comfort!” Call us 24/7 when you need heating help.

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