Most homeowners know how the thermostat, air conditioner and ducts seamlessly work together to cool their homes. But do you know air conditioning basics, or how the system actually cools the air? You may not believe the basics are necessary, but a little understanding can help you down the road, when a repair technician is explaining what’s wrong with your system, or you’re looking to upgrade to a newer model.
Most residential air conditioners are central split systems, not to be confused with the room variety that you see sticking out of windows. When installed, the air conditioner has two main components: Inside your home is the evaporator/air handler, with the blower component also serving your furnace as well. The outdoor unit – that commonplace metal box sitting next to the house – contains the condenser and compressor. Refrigerant moves through every component at once via the refrigerant lines that run between the indoor and outdoor units. As the refrigerant travels through each component, it transfers heat, either through absorption or by releasing it, simultaneously raising and lower its temperature and changing states from a liquid to a gas to a liquid. It’s similar to the refrigeration process that occurs in your kitchen fridge, and it’s also the same principle that heat pumps use for cooling.
As the refrigerant moves through the indoor evaporator coil, it’s cold and in liquid form. The air handler draws warm air from inside the home, and pushes it over the cold coil. At this point, the cold refrigerant can take on that heat, so much so that it changes from a liquid to a gas or vapor. The vaporized refrigerant then moves outside to the compressor, where it’s pressurized and sent to the condenser’s warm coil, where the coil releases the heat to the outside, and the process begins again. Before the refrigerant is sent to the cold indoor coil, it moves through the expansion valve, which helps to restore the refrigerant back to a cold, low-pressure liquid.
Put these air conditioning basics to work for you, and boost your return on investment. Contact NisAir Air Conditioning & Heating for help maintaining, repairing or upgrading your air conditioner. We serve homeowners in the Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.