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How Do I Know What Kind of Air Conditioning System I Have?

There are many options for air conditioning in your home, from single-room window units to central air conditioning systems. Knowing the type of air conditioning system you have is the first step in understanding how to maintain and care for it to get the most from this investment. If you have questions about your air conditioning system or are looking to make upgrades to your home’s heating and cooling appliances, your HVAC service expert in Gaithersburg can help you with all your home comfort needs.

Central Air Conditioning


Central air conditioning systems use a series of ducts to move cooled air throughout your home. If your home has air registers or vents in every room, these are often the clearest indication that you have a central air conditioning system. Central air conditioning systems incorporate a two-part air conditioner with an indoor and outdoor component. The indoor component is typically located in a basement, garage, or utility closet and shares an air handler with your furnace; the outdoor component is shaped like a metal box covered with a grille, and is set adjacent to your home on a concrete pad.

Room Air Conditioning

Most homes that don’t have a central air conditioning system have room air conditioning instead. These units are most often found in older homes and apartments that don’t have pre-existing ductwork to accommodate central air conditioning, but may be found in some newer homes and apartments as well. A room air conditioner is a small appliance that typically fits into the bottom half of an exterior window. You may have one or more of these installed in your home, each with a separate set of controls and each capable of cooling a single small space (i.e., a single room).

Mini-Split Air Conditioning

As an alternative to both central and room air conditioning, some homes have mini-split air conditioning, which functions much like a central air conditioner but doesn’t require ductwork to send cooled air to multiple rooms. A mini-split air conditioner uses a single small outdoor unit, but circulates refrigerant to one or several indoor units via a small tube passed through a small hole in your home’s exterior. Indoor mini-split units are typically long, thin appliances mounted on a ceiling or wall and controlled via either a panel or remote control. A single outdoor unit can provide coolant to several indoor units, which are placed in each room to be cooled and controlled individually. If you aren’t sure whether you have a mini-split system or window air conditioners, look at the placement of the air conditioner—window units are always mounted in windows, while mini-split units are generally found on interior walls or ceilings.

No matter the type of air conditioner your Gaithersburg home employs, your HVAC service technician can help you get the most from it in terms of performance and longevity. You can take a look through our blog to find out more about caring for your air conditioner and the benefits of air conditioning upgrades, or click through our informative website to discover our full range of cooling and heating services in your area.

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