Maybe you don’t care to know the answer, as long as your air conditioner does its job effectively all summer long. However, understanding the components of your system and how they contribute to cooling the air in your home can make troubleshooting a whole lot easier should an issue arise.
While your heating system heats the air and blows it throughout your home, air conditioning removes heat from the house and brings it outside. This process is done using five parts: the refrigerant, compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and the evaporator coil.
1. Refrigerant: While different types of air conditioning systems work differently, they all require refrigerant. Think of this as the “blood” that pumps through the A/C system. As it collects the heat from your home and move it outside, it changes from a gas vapor to a liquid form.
2. Compressor: If the refrigerant is the blood, the compressor is the heart. Once the refrigerant enters the compressor (as a low pressure warm vapor), the compressor pumps it through all components of the system. The refrigerant leaves the compressor as a high pressure hot vapor.
3. Condenser: The hot refrigerant leaves the compressor and moves to the condenser, where it is cooled by air blowing over condensing coils by the condenser fans as it moves through finned coils. The compressor, condenser coil and condenser fan are all located in the unit usually found in your backyard, called a condensing unit.
4. Expansion valve: This component does the real work. The hot liquid refrigerant passes at a high pressure through a small opening in the valve, and emerges as a cool low pressure mist. As gas expands, it cools.
5. Evaporator coil: After leaving the expansion valve the refrigerant moves through the evaporator coil located on the furnace. This coil cools the air blowing across it and back into your home. The refrigerant heats up and boils, evaporating from a cold liquid into a warm vapor, then moves into the compressor as the cycle continues.
Courtesy of About Home