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Even When Your Air Conditioner's Doing The Job, It Pays To Know How It Works

Even When Your Air Conditioner's Doing The Job, It Pays To Know How It WorksAt their most basic, air conditioners work like a large refrigerator. While the familiar kitchen appliance that keeps your food cold chills a smaller, enclosed and insulated space, air conditioners cool areas as large as rooms or entire houses.

In most cases, air conditioners have both an indoor and outdoor unit. The outdoor unit contains the condenser and the compressor. The indoor unit houses the evaporator and the air handling system that distributes the cool air throughout your home.

Refrigerant circulates through the system, absorbing and releasing heat as it does so. At the beginning of a cycle, the refrigerant enters the compressor as a gas under low pressure; this gas contains the heat that was removed from your home. The compressor pressurizes the gaseous refrigerant. The refrigerant exits the compressor as a hot gas under high pressure. It then goes into the condenser, where much of the heat from inside your house is dissipated and released.

After exiting the condenser, the refrigerant is cooler and has changed from a gas to a liquid. The pressurized liquid flows into the evaporator through a very small hole. Inside the evaporator, the liquid’s pressure decreases and the refrigerant evaporates into its gaseous form. This change of state causes the refrigerant to pull heat from the air around it. The evaporator coil gets cold, which is the source of the cool air in your home. The gas refrigerant travels to the compressor in the outdoor unit where the heat is dispersed, and the refrigerant becomes a cool, low-pressure gas again.

The air handler blows air across the evaporator coil. The air is cooled and sent into the ductwork, where it is distributed to your home. Expended air comes back to the system through return ducts. The air is filtered and the cycle starts over.

Since 1969, Air-Tro Inc. has been a provider of professional design, installation, repair and maintenance to customers in the greater Los Angeles area. Contact us today for answers to your questions about air conditioners and how they function, or to schedule a maintenance or installation appointment.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, visit our website.

Air-Tro Inc. services the greater Los Angeles area as well as the metro areas of Riverside and San Bernardino County.

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