A/Cs Are Complicated, but Here Are the Basic FunctionsNorthwest Arkansas can get mighty hot in the summer, and your air conditioner works hard to keep you cool during the hottest of days. Knowing a little about basic A/C function will help you troubleshoot common air conditioning problems, as well as help you communicate with your HVAC technician if service is needed.

The refrigerant in your system is the vehicle that absorbs heat energy from your home’s air and sends it outside. The refrigerant travels through the three main components of your system, changing from liquid to gas and back again.

The evaporator: The evaporator coil is located in your indoor unit. Your system’s air handler sends the air in your home over the evaporator coil, which is filled with cold liquid refrigerant. As the air travels over the coil, the refrigerant absorbs the heat energy contained in the air, causing the refrigerant to boil and change into a cool gas.

The compressor: The cool gas enters the compressor in the outdoor unit, which squeezes it to make it hotter.

The condenser: The hot gas enters the condenser coil. The fan inside the outdoor unit blows hot outdoor air over the coil and sends it through the top of the unit. This hot air passing over the hotter coil releases the heat energy from the refrigerant and expels it outdoors. As the heat energy dissipates, the refrigerant turns back into a cool liquid and travels back to the evaporator to start the cycle over again.

Without the exact charge of refrigerant specified by the manufacturer, your air conditioner won’t cool your home optimally. Likewise, dirty coils and dust buildup inside your system will reduce its efficiency. That’s why annual preventive maintenance is so important: Without it, your neglected air conditioner will cool ineffectively, cost more to operate, and fail sooner. A qualified HVAC technician will perform a comprehensive tune-up of your system, including removing dust buildup, checking airflow, and measuring the refrigerant level.

For more expert advice about basic A/C function and maintenance, please feel free to contact us at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal, proudly serving northwest Arkansas for over 40 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Northwest Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about A/Cs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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