How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are climbing to record figures around the U.S. and the majority of homes are running some type of air conditioner to battle the seasonal heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner is functioning, the professionals at Woody's Sudden Service Inc in Manassas Park would like to teach you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science involved in keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner functions in a comparable way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a bigger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant easily changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it absorbs heat from the indoors and expands back into vapor. This vapor then moves back to the unit outside where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central elements to your cooling system: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the location your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be found inside your home, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which surges the pressure of the vapor until it is converted into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is adapted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil through an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner operates on an relentless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Manassas Park you can reach us at 703-278-2036. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

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