How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are climbing to record figures around the U.S. and most homes are running some variety of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner works, the team at Woody's Sudden Service Inc in Manassas Park wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science involved in keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a bigger responsibility to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters 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 your outdoor unit 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 where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be located inside your home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air moves across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your home.

Your compressor is located 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 pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is adapted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil via 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 just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Manassas Park you can reach us at 703-278-2036. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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