Understanding Your Air Conditioner
As the philosopher Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” An air conditioner (AC) is no exception. It’s made out of many different parts, working together to keep you cool and comfortable. If one of these parts malfunctions, the air conditioner can’t function together as a whole.
To get the best value from your air conditioner, it’s important to have some knowledge of its basic components. This way, you can keep it properly maintained and make informed decisions when requesting service repairs. Our professional team at Four Seasons Heating & Cooling likes to keep our customers informed. Call us at 252-247-5500 with any air conditioning maintenance questions.
What are its functions?
An air conditioner doesn’t only cool the air. It also removes humidity by decreasing the temperature of humid air. This shaves off much of the moisture from the air, improving indoor air quality (IAQ) and discouraging mold growth. It also improves indoor air quality by catching harmful particles in the air filter. This greatly lowers the risk of allergy flare-ups.
How does it make the air cool?
The air conditioner extracts heat from the indoors and pushes it outside. The heat is absorbed by the gas-state refrigerant (many use the name brand Freon®), then pumped to an outside coil. A fan blows the hot air out of the condenser (the big box unit outside). The air indoors becomes cold after having the heat removed. The refrigerant then repeats the process, continually extracting heat until the thermostat reaches the desired temperature.
What are its main components?
The standard central air conditioning system has four main components: the evaporator, the condenser, the expansion valve, and the compressor. The evaporator is located on the “cool side” (indoors), and the condenser and compressor are located on the “hot side” (outdoors). The expansion valve is in the middle of the two sides. Because of its indoor and outdoor components, this type of air conditioner is sometimes called a split-system air conditioner.
What does each component do?
The evaporator is where the refrigerant is received. By reducing the pressure, it converts the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, hence the name “evaporator.”
The condenser receives the refrigerant vapor and converts it back into a liquid. This process is called a “heat transfer.”
The expansion valve is sandwiched between the evaporator and condenser. Its purpose is to facilitate the refrigerant’s journey from the evaporator to the condenser. By removing tension from the refrigerant, it allows the gas to undergo conversion.
The compressor puts pressure on the refrigerant. Using a big electric pump, it causes the refrigerant to convert back to its gas form.