Hansberger Refrigeration Blog: Your AC Repair Resource

How an A/C Does Its Job: Some Common Terms You Should Know

Most of the time, your A/C system will work flawlessly to defend you from Yuma’s summer heat. Every once in a while, though, something may not work as it should. Understanding how the main components in your air conditioner operate will help you work with your HVAC contractor to solve any air conditioner problems that come up.

An A/C works by cycling refrigerant through the system to absorb heat from your home and release that heat outdoors. During this process, the refrigerant travels through a number of components.How an A/C Does Its Job: Some Common Terms You Should Know

Compressor – This component is located in the outdoor unit. Air conditioning refrigerant enters the compressor as a cool, low-pressure gas. The compressor applies pressure to the refrigerant, compressing it and raising its temperature. A two-stage compressor lets your system run at the level really needed for comfort thus it can run at a lower level when the load is less and as a result can save significant energy long term.

Condenser – Refrigerant flows from the compressor to the condenser coil (outdoor coil)the compressor is usually located below the condenser coil fan. The condenser coil transfers the refrigerant’s heat outdoors, cooling the compressed refrigerant and condensing it into a liquid. The refrigerant leaves the condenser as a warm, high-pressure liquid.

Refrigerant line set – On a split system these copper tubes run underground or overhead to carry refrigerant between your outdoor and indoor units.

Refrigerant metering device (flow rater or expansion valve) – This device, located at the evaporator is a refrigerant flow control device that meters the amount of liquid refrigerant entering the evaporator to control refrigerant evaporation at the optimum rate. Refrigerant evaporates inside your indoor coil thus absorbing heat from inside your home so it can move it outside to the compressor and starts the cycle all over again. The refrigerant is at its coldest after leaving the metering device.

Evaporator – The refrigerant enters the evaporator coils as a mixture of liquid and cold vapor because the pressure is reduced at the metering device. The refrigerant begins to change state from liquid to vapor and in doing so absorbs heat from your home. The vapor having absorbed the heat from the coils then flows back to the compressor to continue the cooling cycle.

The indoor (evaporator) fan –
blows air from your air return inside your home to flow over the evaporator (indoor coils). The return air flowing over the cold evaporator causes the humidity in the air to condense into water that is captured by your drain pan and that leaves your system through your condensate (evaporator) drain piping.

Evaporator drain lines – These drain away the moisture that’s been condensed out of your home’s air.

If you’re having trouble with your A/C system or other cooling equipment, please contact us at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company. We’ve been keeping Yuma area residents comfortable since 1952.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock