An Inside Look at Your AC Unit and How It Works

woman enjoying air conditioned homeIt’s the system that keeps your house cool in the summer and controls the comfort of the place you spend most of your time, but how much do you really know about your air conditioner? These important systems can also be confusing for many homeowners, but it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of how your air conditioner works when looking for AC technicians in Fort Collins to repair or replace a unit. Here are the basics to understanding your AC system.

Basic Principles

The basic idea of an air conditioner is similar to a refrigerator—one keeps the air in your home cool, and the other keeps the air around your food cool. Air conditioners use refrigeration to chill indoor air. When a liquid becomes a gas, it absorbs heat. Air conditioners essentially use a special liquid to condense to a gas repeatedly in a system of coils, which creates cool air. Once the cool air is created in the coils, it’s pushed throughout the house by fans through a series of ductwork.

Important Parts

There are many important parts that make an air conditioner work.

  • The first is refrigerant, or the chemical liquid that changes the hot air to cool as it condenses. Refrigerant is typically placed in evaporator coils. When hot air goes over the coils, the refrigerant inside changes from a liquid to a gas and absorbs the heat.
  • The compressor is a high-pressure system that helps turn the gas refrigerant back into a liquid. The compressor is in the outdoor AC unit. A high-pressure compressor creates heat, which is sent outside with fans.
  • The condenser is the next step. After the gas is heated in the compressor, it moves to the condenser, where it is cooled and changed back into a liquid.
  • Fans are also important. An AC system uses multiple fans to push hot air through the system and move the cooled air throughout the house.
  • Ductwork is how cool air moves through the house. It is a series of ducts or conduits, in the walls or underneath your floors, that allow the cool air to travel to every room.

Air Conditioning in Action

Instead of simply cooling the air, air conditioners really just remove the heat from the air. What does this look like when you turn your AC system on? The air conditioner is connected to the thermostat, which monitors the temperature and tells the system to turn on once the house reaches a certain temperature. The air conditioner then starts working and moves the hot air across the series of evaporator coils. As the air moves across the coils, the heat is removed from the air and the liquid refrigerant in the coils turns into a gas. The cool air is pushed with a fan into the home’s ductwork, where it moves and comes into rooms through air vents.

Meanwhile, the liquid refrigerant goes to the condenser in the outdoor unit, where it is compressed by increasing pressure and temperature. That is why the area around the outside AC unit is often warm as the temperature increases to change the form of the refrigerant. The refrigerant runs through the condenser, where it is condensed back to a liquid. That cooled refrigerant is now back to its original state and ready to remove the heat from more air. A fan pushed it back into the house, where the entire process starts over.

As the air conditioner works, the cycle is constantly moving. There is always refrigerant removing heat from the air and moving seamlessly through the entire process to keep the house cool and comfortable.

Your air conditioner is a detailed and important system. There are numerous fragile, moving parts that all work in harmony to create a cool and comfortable house during the hot months.

If you are having trouble with your air conditioner working properly at your Northern Colorado home, please contact the experts at American Air today.

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