Air conditioning is a way of life in our community. Whole house air conditioners give us unprecedented comfort and convenience throughout the summer months, when the heat and humidity make life a bit uncomfortable. While you may rely on your air conditioner on a daily basis, you may not have a sense as to how it actually works. Sure, you know that it produces cool air, but knowing a little bit more about how your air conditioning works can go a long way towards keeping you out of trouble. After all, the more you know, the easier it will be to detect anything out of the ordinary. Catching issues early on is critical to protecting the longevity and performance of your system.
We’ll look at how central “split” systems work (i.e. central air conditioners) because they are the most prominent type of cooling system. There are two basic units in addition to the ductwork as well as some other auxiliary components such as the thermostat. The indoor unit contains the blower motor/air handler and the evaporator coil; while the outdoor unit contains the blower fan, condenser and compressor. Your indoor air is pulled through the cold liquid refrigerant in the evaporator coils where a thermal exchange evaporates the refrigerant as it cools your indoor air.
Your cooled air is returned to the home. The low-pressure, gaseous refrigerant moves through the copper lines into the compressor, where it is highly pressurized to a high temperature. It is now ready to be condensed into a liquid. As it moves through the outdoor condenser coils, the blower fan pushes air through the system so that the temperature drops and the gas turns into a liquid. But the liquid refrigerant is not yet cool enough to make any significant change to the temperature of your indoor air. It passes through an expansion valve to ensure that the pressure and temperature are dropped further, and it’s now ready to pass through the evaporator coils to provide another round of cooling.
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