Air conditioners and refrigerators work in similar ways. Chemicals in the systems are converted from gas to liquid and back to gas. This process moves the heat from inside a room or home to the outdoors.
An air conditioner has three major parts: The compressor, condenser and evaporator. Usually, the compressor and condenser are situated on the outside of the system. The evaporator is on the interiorn and sometimes is part of a furnace.
Fluid goes into the compressor as a high-pressure, hot gas. Next, it moves into the condenser (the part that looks like metal fins on the outdoor portion of your A/C unit). Similar to radiator fins on a car, they help encourage heat to leave quickly.
Once fluid leaves the condenser, it’s at a much colder temperature and has turned from gas to liquid, thanks to the pressure. However, when it enters the evaporator, the pressure drops and the material starts to turn back into a gas.
When turning back into a gas, the liquid starts to evaporate. As it does so, it takes heat from the air nearby. Heat is necessary to separate the molecules, resulting in the final liquid-to-gas transformation.
You’ll also find metal fins on the evaporator, which help with thermal energy exchange. When the fluid exits the evaporator, it’s a low-pressure gas that’s cool and refreshing. However, the job isn’t over yet. Working fluid goes back to the compressor and starts the process again.
Evaporators have a fan connected to them to help circulate interior air. This process helps blow air over the evaporator fins to access the hotter air that rises. Vents on A/C units suck air into the system and down the ducts. Air cools the evaporator gases. While the heat is taken from the air, it’s cooled and directed into the house via ducts around the home.
The Never-Ending Cycle
A relatively simple cycle, it’s repeated over and over. If the home has a set cooling temperature, or a smart thermostat, the system will stall once the ideal setting is reached. Thermostats sense interior temperatures and automatically turn off newer A/C systems. When the room starts to get warmer, thermostats tell the A/C to turn on again.
Although air conditioners seem easy to use, one small glitch can shut down or slow the entire system. Having air conditioners checked in the spring before they’re in high demand should be part of every Utahn’s spring cleaning checklist. Regular maintenance checks ensure systems and all parts are in good working order for the impending summer months.
Call Roberts Mechanical and make sure your air conditioner is ready for summer.