Trainual Homepage

HVAC & Plumbing - Industry Terms & Definitions Policy Template

Use this template to outline common terms and definitions for new employees.

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.

HVAC & Plumbing - Industry Terms & Definitions Policy Template

Use this template to outline common terms and definitions for new employees.


Why Understanding Terms & Definitions is Important

Many roles in our company need to know every technical term in the HVAC and plumbing industries, having a basic understanding of key terms can be beneficial for effective communication with customers and colleagues.

Here's a breakdown of how some non-field roles might benefit from knowing these terms:


  • While salespeople may not need to know every technical detail, having a grasp of fundamental terms can help them engage in more meaningful conversations with potential clients.
  • Understanding terms like SEER, BTU, and HVAC allows salespeople to explain the efficiency and benefits of various systems to customers.
  • Familiarity with basic HVAC concepts can enhance their ability to answer preliminary questions from customers and convey a sense of expertise.

Customer Service Representatives:

  • Customer service representatives often act as the first point of contact for clients seeking assistance or information.
  • Knowing key terms like condenser, evaporator coil, and backflow preventer enables them to better understand customer inquiries and provide accurate responses.
  • Basic knowledge allows customer service representatives to direct inquiries to the appropriate department or technician and facilitate smoother interactions.


  • Dispatchers play a critical role in coordinating service calls and ensuring the right technicians are sent to the right location.
  • Understanding terms like flue, trap, and vent stack helps dispatchers comprehend service requests and relay accurate information to technicians.
  • Knowledge of industry basics allows dispatchers to efficiently manage urgent situations and provide relevant context to technicians en route.
  • While an in-depth technical understanding may not be essential for these roles, having a working knowledge of key terms can build confidence, improve customer interactions, and contribute to a smoother workflow. For more complex technical inquiries, these roles can rely on collaboration with experienced technicians or use internal resources to provide accurate and thorough information to customers.

👉 New to any of the terms mentioned above? We got you! Read on to learn more about the terms used in our industry.

Industry Basics

Basic HVAC & Plumbing Terms

  • BTU (British Thermal Unit): A unit of energy used to measure heating and cooling capacity.
  • Condenser: Component in cooling systems that releases heat outdoors.
  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning): Systems controlling the indoor environment, including temperature and air quality.
  • HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration): Encompasses a broader range of systems than HVAC, including those related to refrigeration and industrial cooling.
  • GPM (Gallons Per Minute): Measurement of liquid flow rate, often used in plumbing systems.
  • PSI (Pounds per Square Inch): Measurement of pressure within plumbing systems.

Heating Systems

Heating Systems Basics

  • Air Handler: A component of HVAC systems responsible for circulating conditioned air throughout the building.
  • Boiler: A heating system that uses water or steam to distribute heat throughout the building.
  • Burner: The part of a furnace or boiler that ignites and burns fuel to generate heat.
  • Combustion: The process of burning fuel to produce heat and energy.
  • Ductwork: System of channels used to distribute heated air throughout a building.
  • Flame Sensor: A device in heating systems that detects the presence of a flame for safety and operation.
  • Furnace: A heating system that heats air and distributes it through ducts.

Heating System Components

  • Heat Exchanger: A device that transfers heat from combustion gases to the air or water in a heating system.
  • Ignition System: The mechanism that starts the combustion process in a heating system.
  • Pilot Light: A small flame used to ignite the main burner in older heating systems.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: A safety valve that releases excess pressure from heating systems to prevent damage.
  • Thermocouple: A device that detects the presence of a pilot flame in heating systems.

Energy Efficiency and Ratings

  • AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): A rating that measures the efficiency of a furnace or boiler over a year.
  • ENERGY STAR: A certification for energy-efficient appliances, including heating systems.
  • Heat Pump: A system that transfers heat between indoor and outdoor air, providing both heating and cooling.

Types of Heating Systems

  • Hydronic Heating: Heating system that uses water to distribute heat, such as radiators or in-floor heating.
  • Oil Furnace: A furnace that burns oil to produce heat.
  • Radiant Heating: A system that heats floors or walls to warm indoor spaces.
  • Steam Radiators: Heating systems that use steam to heat metal radiators and distribute warmth.
  • Zoned Heating: Dividing a building into zones with individual temperature control.

Heating Maintenance and Troubleshooting

  • Air Filter: A component that traps dust and debris from the air before it enters the heating system.
  • Circuit Board: The control center that manages the operation of heating systems.
  • Flue Gas: The byproduct of combustion that needs to be safely vented out of the building.
  • Thermostat: A device that controls the temperature of the heating system.
  • Zone Valve: A valve that controls the flow of heated water to different zones in a building.

Heating Safety and Compliance

  • Carbon Monoxide: A colorless, odorless gas produced by incomplete combustion that can be harmful or fatal.
  • Combustion Chamber: The enclosed area where fuel is burned in a heating system.
  • Draft Hood: A component that helps regulate the flow of exhaust gases out of heating systems.
  • Flue Pipe: A pipe that vents exhaust gases from a heating system to the outdoors.
  • Low Water Cutoff: A safety device that shuts off heating systems if the water level drops too low.

Ventilation & Air Quality

Ventilation Basics

  • Air Exchange Rate: The number of times indoor air is replaced with outdoor air in an hour.
  • Exhaust Fan: Device that removes stale air from indoor spaces and improves air quality.
  • Flue: Duct carrying combustion gases from heating systems outdoors.
  • Fresh Air Intake: Duct or vent that brings outdoor air into a building to improve ventilation.
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): The condition of the air inside a building in relation to occupants' health and comfort.
  • Ventilation: The process of bringing fresh outdoor air into indoor spaces and removing stale indoor air.

Humidity Control

  • Dehumidifier: Appliance that reduces humidity levels in indoor spaces to prevent mold and improve comfort.
  • Humidifier: Device that adds moisture to indoor air to maintain comfortable humidity levels.

Air Filtration and Purification

  • Air Filter: Device that removes particles and contaminants from the air, enhancing indoor air quality.
  • Carbon Filter: Filter that removes odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air.
  • HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter: A type of air filter that captures fine particles, including allergens and dust.
  • UV Air Purifier: Device that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect and purify the air by killing airborne microorganisms.

Air Quality Concerns

  • Allergens: Substances that trigger allergic reactions in individuals, often found in pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.
  • Indoor Pollutants: Harmful substances emitted indoors from sources like cleaning products, furnishings, and cooking.
  • Mold: Fungal growth that thrives in damp and poorly ventilated areas, contributing to poor air quality.
  • Radon: A radioactive gas that can seep into buildings from the ground and pose health risks.

Ventilation Systems

  • Balanced Ventilation: System that introduces and exhausts equal amounts of fresh and stale air to maintain indoor air quality.
  • Exhaust Ventilation: System that expels indoor air to the outside, often used in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Mechanical Ventilation: System that uses fans and ducts to control and direct air movement for effective ventilation.
  • Natural Ventilation: Air exchange that occurs through windows, doors, and other openings without mechanical assistance.

Odor Control

  • Activated Carbon: Porous material that adsorbs odors and chemicals, improving indoor air quality.
  • Air Scrubber: Device that uses a combination of technologies to reduce indoor air pollutants and odors.

Safety and Compliance

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO): A colorless, odorless gas produced by incomplete combustion that can be harmful or fatal.
  • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Monitor: Device that measures indoor CO2 levels and alerts to inadequate ventilation.
  • Radon Mitigation System: System that reduces indoor radon levels through venting and pressurization.

Cooling Systems

Cooling System Basics

  • Air Conditioning (AC): System that cools and dehumidifies indoor air for comfort.
  • Compressor: Central component in air conditioning systems that circulates refrigerant to facilitate cooling.
  • Condenser Coil: Component that releases heat absorbed from indoor air into the outdoor environment.
  • Coolant: Substance, often refrigerant, used to absorb and release heat in cooling systems.
  • Evaporative Cooler: System that cools air by evaporating water, commonly used in dry climates.

Cooling System Components

  • Blower Fan: Component that circulates cooled air throughout a building.
  • Capacitor: Device that stores and releases electrical energy to start the compressor and fan motors.
  • Condensate Drain: Pipe or channel that carries condensed water away from cooling systems.
  • Evaporator Coil: Component that absorbs heat from indoor air and facilitates cooling.
  • Expansion Valve: Device that controls the flow of refrigerant, causing it to expand and cool.

Types of Cooling Systems

  • Central Air Conditioning: System that cools and distributes air through ducts and vents.
  • Ductless Mini-Split: Cooling system with individual indoor units connected to an outdoor compressor.
  • Heat Pump: System that provides both cooling and heating by transferring heat between indoor and outdoor air.
  • Window Air Conditioner: Compact cooling unit installed in a window or wall opening.

Refrigerant and Refrigeration Cycle

  • Refrigerant: Chemical substance used to absorb and release heat in cooling systems.
  • Refrigeration Cycle: Process through which refrigerant absorbs and releases heat to cool indoor air.

Energy Efficiency and Ratings

  • EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio): A measure of cooling efficiency, calculated by dividing cooling capacity by power consumption.
  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): Rating that measures the cooling efficiency of air conditioning systems over a season.
  • ENERGY STAR: Certification for energy-efficient appliances, including cooling systems.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

  • Air Filter: Component that traps dust and particles from incoming air, improving indoor air quality.
  • Condenser Fan: Fan that helps release heat from the condenser coil.
  • Humidity Control: Feature that removes excess moisture from indoor air during cooling.
  • Thermostat: Device that controls the temperature of the cooling system.

Safety and Compliance

  • Cooling Tower: Device that removes heat from building systems by evaporating water.
  • Dehumidification: Process that reduces moisture levels in the air for improved comfort.
  • Ice Formation: Occurs when cooling systems experience refrigerant leaks or inadequate airflow, leading to ice buildup.
  • Low Refrigerant: Condition that results in reduced cooling capacity and potential system damage.

Plumbing Systems

Basic Plumbing Terms

  • Aerator: A device attached to faucets to mix air with water, reducing splashing and conserving water.
  • Clog: A blockage in pipes that restricts or prevents the flow of water or waste.
  • Corrosion: The gradual deterioration of metal pipes or fixtures due to chemical reactions with water.
  • Fixture: Any device connected to a plumbing system, such as sinks, toilets, and showers.
  • Gasket: A sealing device used to prevent leakage between pipe connections or fittings.
  • Hard Water: Water with a high mineral content, which can lead to scale buildup in pipes and appliances.
  • Hose Bibb: An outdoor faucet typically used for connecting hoses or filling containers.
  • Lateral Line: The pipe that connects a building's plumbing system to the main sewer line.
  • Nipple: A short length of pipe used to connect two fittings or extend a pipe's length.
  • P-Trap: A type of trap shaped like the letter "P" that prevents sewer gases from entering buildings.
  • Plumbing Code: Local regulations and standards that govern the design and installation of plumbing systems.
  • Pressure Gauge: A device that measures the pressure of water or gas in plumbing systems.
  • Shut-Off Valve: A valve that stops the flow of water to a specific fixture or area.
  • Soldering: A method of joining metal pipes by melting solder to create a watertight seal.
  • Thread Seal Tape (Teflon Tape): A thin tape used to seal threaded connections and prevent leaks.
  • Trap Seal: The water level maintained in a trap to prevent sewer gases from escaping into the building.
  • Valve Key: A tool used to operate hard-to-reach or buried water valves.
  • Water Meter: A device that measures the amount of water consumed by a building.
  • Water Pressure Regulator: A device that controls the pressure of water entering a building's plumbing system.

Plumbing System Components

  • Backflow Preventer: Device preventing reverse flow of substances into the water supply.
  • Faucet: Valve used to control the flow of water from a pipe.
  • Pressure Regulator: Valve that controls and reduces water pressure in plumbing systems.
  • Sump Pump: Device that removes water from basements or lower areas to prevent flooding.
  • Toilet: Fixture that disposes of human waste through flushing

Pipe Materials

  • Backflow Preventer: Device preventing reverse flow of substances into the water supply.
  • Faucet: Valve used to control the flow of water from a pipe.
  • Pressure Regulator: Valve that controls and reduces water pressure in plumbing systems.
  • Sump Pump: Device that removes water from basements or lower areas to prevent flooding.
  • Toilet: Fixture that disposes of human waste through flushing (okay, you probably knew this one).

Drainage and Sewer Systems

  • Drain: Pipe that carries wastewater away from fixtures.
  • Septic System: On-site wastewater treatment system used in areas without access to public sewers.
  • Sewer Line: Pipe that carries wastewater from a building to a public sewer system.
  • Trap: Curved section of pipe holding water to prevent sewer gases from entering buildings.
  • Vent Stack: Vertical pipe allowing air to flow into the plumbing system.

Plumbing Fixtures

  • Bathtub: Fixture for bathing, often connected to plumbing systems.
  • Bidet: Hygiene fixture that sprays water for cleaning after using the toilet.
  • Sink: Fixture used for washing hands, dishes, and other items.
  • Shower: Fixture that delivers water for bathing.
  • Urinal: Fixture used for urination, commonly found in public restrooms.

Water Heaters

  • Electric Water Heater: Appliance that heats water using electricity.
  • Gas Water Heater: Appliance that heats water using natural gas or propane.
  • Tankless Water Heater: Appliance that heats water on demand without storing it in a tank.

Valves and Controls

  • Ball Valve: Valve with a spherical disc used to control water flow.
  • Gate Valve: Valve with a sliding gate used to block or allow water flow.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: Safety valve releasing excess pressure from plumbing systems.
  • Thermostatic Mixing Valve: Valve that blends hot and cold water to achieve a desired temperature.

Maintenance and Repair

  • Leak: Unwanted water escape from pipes, fixtures, or connections.
  • Plunger: Tool used to clear clogs in drains and pipes.
  • Wrench: Tool for turning nuts and bolts in plumbing connections.
  • Snake (Plumbing Auger): Tool used to clear clogs in drains and pipes.
  • Water Hammer: Banging noise caused by sudden stopping of flowing water in pipes.

Safety and Compliance

  • Backflow Preventer: Device preventing the reverse flow of substances into the water supply.
  • Cross-Connection: Connection between potable and non-potable water sources, posing contamination risks.
  • Lead-Free: Materials that meet regulatory standards for minimal lead content in plumbing systems.
  • Trap: Curved pipe holding water to prevent sewer gases from entering buildings.
  • Water Quality: The condition of water in terms of health, safety, and appearance.

Similar Templates

No items found.