The popular season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to escape the sun. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how a typical central heating and cooling system works.
Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but clearly rather than keeping a small space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that adapts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant ring from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is changed back to a sub-cooled liquid.
Your AC system is made of four key parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.
The piece where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be indoors, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven among your indoor space.
From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor located in your outside condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a smaller amount hot air blows by the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is returned to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.
Your air conditioner is a consistent loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our technicians a call at 309-517-7511. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to keep you happy this season.