What can I learn from an HVAC Textbook?

I have in my house a book titled “Fundamentals of Heating and Air Conditioning/Refrigeration”, or, something similar.
It’s about 4 inches thick, and weighs about 10 or more pounds. IIRC, my brother was given it by somebody who went to HVAC school, or something similar.

My question: Will I be able to replace my own A/C Heating unit, if I know all of this stuff?

Currently, I know that positive and negative are needed for a circuit, and that there is a formula for determining Ohms, Watts, etc…That’s about it.


What are the Chapter and Section titles?

The book would be helpful to a point (depending on how old it is) but it won’t replace actual hands on experience. You would need at least a basic knowledge of how to safely handle refrigerants, as well as some mechanical aptitude.

In most jurisdictions, you need to be licensed to handle refrigerants, because people used to just dump the stuff into the atmosphere.

No, you can’t. Right off the bat, in order to replace your AC unit you’ll need to be able to handle refrigerant. For that you’ll need an EPA license and you can’t get that from a book. Though I suppose it may give you the know how to pass a test. The problem is, if all you want to do is replace your AC/furnace, you’re not going to save money this way.

Replacing a furnace is somewhat straightforward. There’s a bit of an art to disconnecting and reconnecting the plenum, but other then that, it’s not terribly difficult. You can probably do it without even breaking the lineset. But, if you’re going to do any refrigerant work at all (replacing your outside or inside unit), you’ll probably need, let’s say, one to two thousand dollars worth of tools just to get the freon out, store it and put it back in when you’re done*. If all you want to do is get the job done one time, you’re better off just paying someone to do it for you. Even if you get ripped off it’s better then buying all the tools and then having them sit around in your garage for years.

*Look for prices on a vacuum pump, recovery pump, storage tank and HVAC gauges.

ETA you can buy and replace your furnace on your own, no special license required.

Did you try looking inside?

Another thing, that book is going to made up of a lot of formulas about things like pressures and temperatures and volumes. It’s going to spend pages and pages and and pages explaining things like how to decide how many BTUs of heat a small business with bad insulation in the midwest needs and how to keep the noise level down in a hospital setting when you have 10 giant air handlers on the roof.

It may not even discuss how to remove and replace a residential furnace/AC since that would be taught in class. The book will explain how to evacuate and recharge the system though and in way more detail than you need. You’re almost better just watching some youtube videos if you wanted to see how it’s done.

Many years ago I taught new aircraft mechanics for the US Air Force. Some big wig had the idea that multimedia training was going to replace hands-on training. A student would watch a training film then go out and replace a 250 lb wheel and tire assembly for instance. I was even told to start looking for another job.

I smiled. I knew that this was going to fail and it did. To do something hands-on, you need hands-on training. It’s even been written about in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning in the Psychomotor Domain. If they had a mock-up of the aircraft landing gear, then maybe the multimedia training might have worked some.

So unless you have some crossover skills, such as working on automotive heating and cooling systems or changing tires on a similar aircraft as in my example above, just reading a book won’t get you all the way to your goal.

Even that’s probably not the same as working out on an actual airstrip or an actual plane where setting up the jack/lift wrong might kill you.

There’s a reason cops practice their driving skill with the lights and siren on. Real world experience is pretty helpful. Have you noticed that the jumble of wires inside of a [whatever machine you’re working on, that’s been worked on by lots of other people] rarely looks anything like the schematics with all it’s straight lines and 90 degree bends?

because it is fundamentals it will be theory and general information. they are great books to start learning from.

what exists in actual up to date information will likely be in other types of books on servicing and installing. you will also need those specific to what you have and will have (not just what manuals you might get to be a product user).

then there are special tools, apparatus and skills to install and service. soldering copper to make a good connection takes a bunch of practice, doing that for a pressurized system takes materials, skills and practice well beyond that.

doing it wrong is a bad and costly thing. you could cost far more money by having the system fail if not immediately then sooner than it should. the amount of details in doing things right, doing things up to code are many and detailed can’t come all from a book (which you have only one of many you will need), much has to be experienced through others and doing it many times.

so i would give an opinion that this would be an over your head experience. now i’m the type to read some of that book anyway just to learn a bit about HVAC and to have a better understanding of what experienced people are doing during the installation and how i would later use and maintain the system as a homeowner.

To the question, no you will need more than any book.

The EPA Cert you will need can be gotten by attending an HVAC course at a local college.

Good. now you can go into the store and buy refrigerant (which one?).

Now for the gauges - hey, ebay! they’re dirt cheap! Yea, the stuff for the refrigerant that has been discontinued is going to be cheap. The tools to handle the new stuff… (yes, this actually happened a few years ago - R22 used to be the standard for residential units. The change was expensive for the folks in HVAC.

I doubt that you can rent this stuff in very many places.

If you can just swap out the furnace without bending the copper tubing (that is the “lineset” - it carries the refrigerant between the coil above the furnace to the external compressor), you might have a DIY. If you let that box with the tubing fall, you will have a first-rate mess on your hands.

The book will not be of value - there are no calcs - just get a new furnace with the same inputs and outputs and replace one box with another.