How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a typical AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent circle from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or soaks up heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is made of four main parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The piece where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooler air is driven within your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed in your outside condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows across the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of physics at work. We realize the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 713-364-9957. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this time around.

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