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Air Conditioning and Furnace Basics

One of the questions Wolverine Heating & Cooling, Inc. gets all the time is, “how exactly does my air conditioner and furnace work?”

Let us give you the basics. It may also help you to know when there could be a problem with your unit.

Air conditioning

An air conditioner uses a special type of substance which readily changes from a gas state to a liquid one. The gas is contained in a closed circuit of pipes connected to a pump, which compresses the gas so that the pressure is great enough for it to turn into a liquid.

The hot liquid then travels around a set of pipes which allow the heat to escape. Next, the liquid passes through a valve into a pipe where the pressure is much lower, and then evaporates back into its gas state. In doing this it needs to take in heat from its surroundings, thus making the pipes colder. The pipes are arranged so that there are fans to blow air over both the hot part of the pipes and the cold part.


A furnace transfers heat to the living space of the building through an intermediary distribution system. Modern furnaces typically use a fan to circulate air to the rooms of house and pull cooler air back to the furnace for reheating. Separate ducts collect cool air to be returned to the furnace. At the furnace, cool air passes through an air filter, through the blower, then through the heat exchanger, where it is then blown throughout the building.

For more information on any of these services, please give us a call at 616-846-2946 or send an email to