Commercial HVAC systems can be complex. Most consist of various components that work together to heat and cool your building. As a building owner, you don’t need to know how to repair or service this equipment; you can leave that to commercial HVAC contractors. However, it is helpful for you to have a general understanding of the various components of your HVAC system and what each one does.


Most commercial buildings have what’s known as a split air conditioning system. In other words, the compressor and the condenser are two separate pieces of equipment. The compressor, which is located outside, is a series of refrigerator coils. The refrigerant basically absorbs heat from the air.


The condenser is the other component of your air conditioning system. It takes the heat gathered from your building, by way of the compressor, and it blows that heat outside. Your commercial HVAC service company will periodically need to check the condenser for leaks.

Air Handler

The air handler is basically like a big fan. It takes the air that has been cooled or heated and blows it into the ducts. This allows the cooled or heated air to circulate through your building. When your heat or AC kicks on, the air handler kicks on and starts blowing. When it kicks off, the air handler turns off.

Terminal Units

Larger buildings sometimes have various branches in their HVAC system. For example, you may be able to control the temperature of your top floor and your bottom floor independently. When this is the case, there is typically a terminal unit associated with each HVAC zone. This unit controls the flow of air into that zone. It also contains an air filter that traps debris, cleaning the air.

If one part of your building has heat and the other does not, your commercial HVAC repair company may need to examine your terminal units.


The furnace is the HVAC component that heats the air. It does this by combusting some sort of fuel. These days, the fuel is usually natural gas, but there are still some oil-burning commercial furnaces. The furnaces used in commercial buildings are similar to residential ones but far more powerful.


Ductwork runs through the commercial building and carries the heated or cooled air into various parts of the structure. When you have HVAC equipment replaced, the existing ductwork can usually be left in place. However, if it becomes leaky or blocked, your HVAC company may need to work on it.

Understanding the basic components of your commercial HVAC system will help you have more effective conversations with your HVAC service company. If you’re looking for commercial HVAC mechanical contractors Philadelphia residents can rely on, look no further than H&H Commercial Services, Inc. Our friendly technicians are happy to answer your questions along the way.