Understanding How Your AC Unit Works

We all love the benefits an air conditioner provides but do you really understand how it works? You turn it on, cold air comes out – simple as that. Right? Here is some basic information on where the cold air comes from and how to know if your AC unit is not working correctly.

Your air conditioner and your refrigerator are not that different. Your air conditioner uses chemicals that convert from gas to liquid and then back again quickly. These chemicals transfer the heat from the inside of your home to the outside air. Voilà!

There are four main parts of an air conditioning unit that you should know. The compressor, outdoor condenser, metering device, and indoor evaporator.

Compressor – pumps low-pressure refrigerant vapor into high-pressure refrigerant vapor
Outdoor condenser – rejects heat energy turning high-pressure vapor into high-pressure liquid
Metering device – meters the high-pressure liquid into the low-pressure liquid
Indoor evaporator – absorbs heat turning low-pressure liquid into low-pressure vapor
And the cycle repeats…

Sings Your AC Is Not Working Correctly

  • It seems to run too long
  • It makes an unusual or loud noise
  • The home seems ‘clammy,’ humid, sticky
  • You have to turn the TV up when it comes on
  • When relaxing at home, you feel the need for a sweater
  • Black dots on your bathroom ceiling
  • Your utility bill seems too high for how hot it has been outside

It is important to catch little problems before they become a big expense! If you EVER need to add refrigerant you have a leak! Don’t just “top it off.” Always find and fix the leak. Would you drive to work with gas dripping out of your car’s gas tank just because you can fill it up on the way home? No. Fix the leak!

Keep It Clean

No one can correctly charge a system with even a slightly dirty coil. All coils must be clean and the proper amount of air moving – both indoor and out. It takes about an hour or more to properly clean and check an AC system. Verifying correct refrigerant levels is the last step in the process. Learn more about cleaning your AC unit from our Tower Tips.