For a lot of folks, air conditioning is just as mysterious as it is essential. They appreciate the creation of cool air in the summer, but really have no idea how it works. Yet, understanding the technology is a good idea so when your air conditioner breaks down, you’ll have at least general idea of what’s happening. A review of how evaporator and condenser coils contribute to cooling your home should be a key part of any explanation of air conditioning.
How a Central A/C Works
Refrigerant (also called coolant) is essential to any air conditioning or refrigeration system. Made to transition easily from liquid to gas and back to liquid again, the refrigerant moves through the A/C system, removing heat from inside the house and releasing it outside into the air. The refrigerant does this inside evaporator and condenser coils.
The evaporator coil, in homes with furnaces, typically is located in a metal box fitted on top of the furnace. In homes without gas furnaces, usually in mild-winter climates, the evaporator coil is often located in a dedicated air-handling unit. As the refrigerant is pumped through the copper evaporator coil, it turns into a gaseous state as it absorbs heat and moisture from the inside air. When heat and water vapor is removed, the result is cool, drier air. The blower and ducts do the rest of the job of circulating conditioned air throughout the home.
After removing heat from the home, the A/C pumps the heated refrigerant outside to the condenser/compressor, a metal box usually positioned on a concrete pad next to the house. A compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, returning it to a liquid state, and in the condenser coil, the refrigerant releases heat into the air with the aid of an exhaust fan.
For the essential heat exchange to occur properly, the evaporator and condenser coils must be cleaned regularly, and airflow must be maintained to both outside and inside units. To schedule a spring maintenance tune-up for your Portland area home’s central air conditioner, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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