You may be aware that air handlers are an important HVAC component, but do you know what they actually do? An air handler, which is also referred to as a fan coil unit, is one of many HVAC devices that can help you keep your Gilbert, AZ area home comfortable all year long. Although stand-alone air handlers aren’t as common as furnaces, they can be beneficial in certain situations. Here, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of air handlers, how they work, and whether or not you need one.

What is an Air Handler?

Essentially, an air handler is a box-shaped piece of HVAC equipment that works alongside your heat pump or air conditioner. Air handlers contain several important components, including a blower motor, an evaporator coil, and typically, an air filter. These units are located inside the home and are usually connected directly to the household ductwork.

What Do Air Handlers Do?

The purpose of an air handler is relatively straightforward. The air handler is the unit that transports the air from your HVAC system around your home. Without the air handler, your heating and cooling units would have no way of circulating the hot and cold air that they produce. If you have an air conditioner or a heat pump, it’s necessary to pair it with a stand-alone air handler to control your home’s climate. If you have a furnace, it basically serves as an air handler while also producing heat. As soon as the conditioned air is at the correct temperature, the air handler will begin cycling it through your air ducts to reach the different areas of your household.

The Different Types of Air Handlers

There are a few different types of air handlers, each of which offers its own advantages. The main types available are single-speed, two-speed, and variable-speed air handlers. The most affordable option is the single-speed air handler, which can only be on or off with no variability in its blower speed. Two-speed units are very similar, but they have one additional speed option while running. In some cases, this secondary speed can make it easier to keep your home’s climate consistent. Finally, variable-speed air handlers have several different speed settings available. Although these air handlers are the most expensive, they tend to be the most efficient and effective at providing comfort.

The Main Components of an Air Handler

There are a few main components that work together to make an air handler function. One important part is the evaporator coil, which controls the temperature of the air being distributed around your home. When you have the air conditioning turned on, the evaporator coil becomes cold. As a result, it cools and removes moisture from the air that passes over it. When you have the heat running, the coil gets hot and warms the air that passes over it.

Once the evaporator coil has done its part, the air handler’s blower motor comes into play. Depending on the type of air handler you have, the blower motor will have one speed, two speeds, or multiple speeds. This motor takes the warm or cold air after it passes over the coil and blows it through your air ducts. The air ducts then guide that conditioned air to the different rooms of your house.

However, before the air reaches your ductwork, it must flow through the air handler’s filter. The air filter is there to catch the majority of the airborne contaminants, preventing them from reaching the air you’re breathing. In addition to improving your indoor air quality, this filter helps keep your air ducts and HVAC systems clean.

How Much Does an Air Handler Cost?

Air handlers can vary quite a bit in price depending on the brand, type, and quality. On average, though, the price for a stand-alone air handler typically ranges from around $3,000 to $6,000 to purchase it and have it installed. If you choose to add heat strips to your air handler for auxiliary heating, they will cost an additional $300 to $600 typically. When pairing an air handler with a heat pump, you shouldn’t need to purchase separate heat strips. However, if you don’t have any type of heating system in your home, you’ll probably want to invest in the strips.

Who Should Purchase an Air Handler?

Although an air handler unit isn’t necessary for every household, you may be able to benefit from investing in one. In an area like Gilbert, the temperature seldom drops below freezing. You may not have or need a furnace in your home. However, you will most certainly need air conditioning for the scorching Arizona summers. This is why air handlers are very popular in this region. An air handler is an excellent choice if you intend to have a heat pump or AC unit without a furnace. That way, the air handler can distribute air for the air conditioner or heat pump to keep your household comfortable.

If you have an air conditioner and want to have some kind of heating system, you have a couple of options. For one, you could invest in heat strips to add to your air handler. Alternatively, you could invest in another type of heating unit, such as a baseboard heater or even space heaters. Either way, an air handler is a very valuable piece of HVAC equipment to have for just about any household that doesn’t utilize a furnace. However, if you have a furnace, there’s no need for a stand-alone air handler as the furnace will fill that role.

Signs Your Air Handler Needs Professional Attention

If you have an air handler in your home, you should know the signs that it needs to be repaired or replaced. Quality air handlers are durable units that usually last between 10 and 15 years. However, even if you take superb care of yours, it may still experience the occasional malfunction. If you start noticing any of the following warning signs, you shouldn’t hesitate to give us a call at A/C Doctors.

  • Weak or inconsistent airflow
  • Spiking energy bills
  • Loud noises during operation
  • Unusually high household humidity
  • Leaking water or refrigerant

The sooner you recognize these symptoms, the simpler and more affordable the fix is likely to be. Our team at A/C Doctors will come out to your home and thoroughly inspect your air handler and other components of your HVAC system. We’ll determine if the air handler needs to be repaired or replaced and get right to work on an effective solution.

Since 2008, we at A/C Doctors have been faithfully serving the Gilbert area with exceptional home comfort services. When you need assistance with your air handler, heating, air conditioning, indoor air quality, ductwork, or ductless mini-split, our expert technicians will be there to help. We offer 24/7 emergency repairs, dedicated customer service, and flexible appointment scheduling. Contact us at A/C Doctors today to schedule an appointment!

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