Air conditioners are major appliances in our homes nowadays. With their ability to keep the indoor air at comfortable humidity and temperature, we cannot do without them, especially in extreme weather conditions. To appreciate these useful appliances, we should understand their main parts, which include.
The refrigerant, also known as coolant, is a specialized fluid that is essential in the cooling and freezing technology. This fluid is contained in a closed-loop and works to carry heat from the indoors of the building to the outdoors. The refrigerant is able to do this efficiently because it can change from liquid to vapor, depending on the temperature.
The refrigerant usually moves through the cooling tubes and copper coils, which link the inside and outside units. When it absorbs the heat from inside, the refrigerant becomes liquid and travels to the outside unit where it releases the heat.
After the refrigerant has released its heat outdoors, it returns to its gaseous state and moves back indoors. Once cold, the air conditioner’s fan blows over the coils to disperse the cold air into the home or office and the cycle continues.
The compressor is known as the air conditioner’s engine as it works to pressurize the refrigerant. It is an electric pump that applies pressure to the refrigerant, forcing it to change into a liquid. And in addition to the liquefaction of the refrigerant, the compressor causes the heating up of the refrigerant, which happens because the gas is squeezed very tightly.
The heating up of the refrigerant is vital since its temperature should be higher than that of the outdoor for it to be dispersed to the outside air. If this is not the case, the air conditioner will be unable to move hot air outside and bring in cold air.
This is the air conditioner’s outdoor unit, which receives the refrigerant when it has high pressure and temperature. This coil works to transfer heat to the outdoor air. With the help of the condenser fan, which blows cold air over the coils, the refrigerant is able to release heat. Once heat is released, the refrigerant turns into a liquid and flows into the expansion valve.
The liquefied refrigerant leaves the condenser, and since it is too hot to be delivered to the evaporator coils, it first enters into the expansion valve or the metering device. Here, the refrigerant is cooled down through depressurization.
After the liquid refrigerant loses its pressure, it changes states from liquid to gas in the evaporator. The expansion valve also works to regulate the amount of refrigerant flowing into the evaporator.
These coils play vital roles in the air conditioner as they help absorb the heat from the home. From the expansion valve, the depressurized liquid refrigerant enters these copper coils. Once the indoor air blows over these coils, heat is picked up, and just like in the condenser coils, the condenser fan helps to facilitate the heat transfer.
The heating of the refrigerant by the indoor air turns it into gas.
Air Handler and Blowing Unit
The air handler and blowing unit work together to move the indoor air to the evaporator and disperse the cool air in your living space. This facilitates the removal of hot air, which is replaced with cold air with the help of the duct system.
The Thermostat is the air conditioning system’s control center as it monitors and regulates the air temperature and tells the system when to turn on and off. Depending on your system, thermostats can be set either manually or automatically. Based on your needs, you can also change the temperature settings via the thermostat. If you set your thermostat to high, you get to lower your cooling bills.
Due to the heating of the refrigerant, the outdoor condensing unit usually gets very hot. To prevent the unit from overheating, fans and fins are fitted to disperse the heat to the outdoor environment.
Although the air conditioner can do away with the air filter, it is an important component that improves the indoor air quality. With the air filter in place, dust and dirt are kept out of the AC components, saving you from costly maintenance and repair costs. As a bonus, your indoor air quality improves tremendously.
The Refrigeration Cycle
When the return vents in your home absorb the hot indoor air, the refrigerant picks up the heat while air blows over the cold evaporator coils.
After absorbing a certain amount of heat, the refrigerant is discharged into the compressor where it is pressurized and heated. It is then passed to the condenser coils where a condenser fan blows over the coils to enable the refrigerant to lose its heat to the outside air.
The refrigerant is then transferred to an expansion valve where depressurizing and cooling take place. It returns to the vent inside the home to absorb heat, and the cycle continues.
Care and Maintenance of your Air Conditioner
After learning about what makes up the air conditioner, it is time to learn a few tips on how to care and maintain your unit.
Keep it Clean
Over time, the fins of your AC will trap dust and dirt, so you have to keep them clean. Vacuum the fins using a soft-bristle brush to prevent them from bending or getting damaged as they are very fragile. In some units, you will have to unscrew the metal box to get to them. To be sure about how to clean the fins in your unit, check your owner’s manual.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Go for a programmable thermostat as it allows you to set the temperature a couple of times during the day, depending on your needs. Lowering the temperature when you mostly need it will not only keep you comfortable but will also save you energy costs along the way.
Install a Compressor Sound Blanket
For a noisy air conditioner, contact your manufacturer to find a sound blanket to keep things quiet. Buy a sound blanket for your model or get a universal one online. Fans are usually the culprit in noisy units.
Air conditioner fins are usually fragile and may bend once in a while. You can realign them using a dinner knife. However, you should do this with utmost care. Do not insert the knife more than half an inch.
Unblock the Condensate Drain Tube
Once you spot water paddling around the furnace while the AC is running, the condensate drain tube has clogged. The condensation taking place around the coils has bacteria that form slime, which clogs the condensate drain tube. To unclog, remove both the drain tube and fitting of the condensate pan. Purchase a pack of slime-preventing tablets and follow the package instructions. You can do this monthly or less if you use your unit seasonally. The tabs will reduce the formation of slime.
Call in the Professionals from Holbrook Heating & Air Conditioning
If you need to learn more about the parts of your air conditioning unit, contact us at Holbrook Heating & Air Conditioning. We provide our clients with a full range of services in heating, cooling, indoor air quality, boilers, air balancing, home energy audits, ductless mini-splits, radiant heating, whole-house fans, remodels, refrigeration, and new construction. We serve residents in Upstate NY and the surrounding areas. Waste no time. Request service today!