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The Ins and Outs of Air Conditioning

How Does Air Conditioning Keep a Building Cool?

The sweet, icy excellent relief an air conditioning unit brings is something too often taken for granted. The only time people wonder how an AC system works is when it doesn’t, right? When folks look up how AC functions, they’re usually left confused by the jargon and science that makes air conditioning tick.

The good news is, how air conditioners work does not have to be a mystery. Keep reading to discover an air conditioning system’s inner workings and discover how all the pieces work together. 

AC Innerworkings: Parts and Pieceshvac parts

Air conditioners have five key components that regulate the function of the unit itself. 
  • Refrigerant: Refrigerant is the key player in the cooling operation of an air conditioning unit. It transforms from a gas to liquid while transporting hot indoor air outside and back to a gas when it starts its cycle over again. The refrigerant works with an indoor fan to cycle cold air from the coils chilled by the refrigerant into the house. Without refrigerants, air conditioning wouldn’t work.
  • Evaporator: The evaporator turns liquid refrigerant into gas. The resulting gas-refrigerant cools and dehumidifies the air of a home. 
  • Expansion Valve: The expansion valve works with the evaporator. It regulates how much liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator to become gas. 
  • Condenser Coil: The condenser works with heated refrigerant gas. Its primary role is to vent the heated gas before turning the refrigerant back into a liquid state. 
  • Compressor: The compressor works with the condenser coil to turn the refrigerant back from a gas into a liquid. The gas is forced back to a liquid state by the high pressure of the compressor. 

How AC Systems Work 

An air conditioner does not just push cold air into the house; it also removes hot air from the house. An air conditioning unit follows a set system to cool a home:

Step 1: Heat Absorption

Hot air from the house is pulled through the vents and blown over the chilled evaporator coils. This heat is absorbed by the evaporator coil, resulting in cooled air blown by a fan through the air ducts to cool the house. 

Step 2: Refrigerant Is Compressed

The heat absorbed by the evaporative cooler forces the refrigerant to change from a liquid to a gas. This gas pushes through to the compressor, which squeezes the gas into a higher-temperature, pressurized state.

Step 3: Heat Transference

The super-pressurized gas reaches the outside condenser and vents out to the outside air. As the heat vents out, the refrigerant cools and returns to its liquid state.

Step 4: Refrigerant Is Chilled

The refrigerant has vented its heat and returns cold enough to start the cycle again. It will continue to repeat the process until the house has reached the desired temperature and will start again when it is too warm.


The Role of the AC Professional

HVAC professionals play a significant role in keeping a home’s air conditioner in perfect order. 

  • Maintenance: The working parts of an air conditioning system require regular maintenance once a year to ensure they are up to the hot weather of spring and summer. Refrigerant requires occasional refills (and proper disposal of materials), coils require cleaning, and air conditioning filters require replacement annually. 
  • Repairs: Air conditioning parts break down over time and extended use. An HVAC professional can identify if parts require replacement or if a repair will fix the unit up. It’s essential to have a professional make this call, as a refrigerant and the pressurized functions of air conditioners are dangerous if mishandled. 
  • Replacement: When air conditioners finally kick the bucket, it’s best to have a professional replace them. Air conditioning parts are expensive and dangerous to handle, and expertise is required to install a unit correctly and comply with city ordinances. Plus, air conditioners are heavy and cumbersome to work with, so it isn’t recommended a DIYer give them a go, either. 

When it comes to keeping the air conditioner ready for summer, homeowners should work with a qualified air conditioning specialist who can make the experience a simple one. 

Trust Your Home’s AC To 4 Seasons Heating & Cooling

4 Seasons Heating & Cooling is no stranger to the Reno, NV weather. Since 2008, they’ve been working to keep their Reno community comfortable all year round. From winter to summer, their expert technicians have the experience to handle any heating or cooling problem that comes their way. Call now for AC services!