How Your Home Air Conditioner Works

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Understanding how your AC unit works can help you prepare for your appointment. Our technicians love to help homeowners understand what’s going on with your system and what options you have to repair it. Please don’t hesitate to ask them questions about your home’s air conditioning system.

Two Basic Principles

Understanding air conditioning can be a little complicated. A couple of key facts will help you get started:

  1. Your AC system pumps refrigerant in a cycle, similar to the way your body pumps blood.
  2. Refrigerants are special chemicals that change easily from liquids to gasses at low temperatures. Because of this unique trait, refrigerants absorb heat easily and can cool your home.
The Air Conditioning Cycle

Multiple AC components work together to form a cycle to cool the air in your home.

  • Most importantly, the Refrigerant is the key to your air conditioner. It acts like the blood for your AC system. It flows through the circuit absorbing and releasing heat again and again.
  • The compressor, which lives in the unit outside your home, is the heart of your air conditioner. It constantly pumps pressurized refrigerant through the system.
  • First, it sends the refrigerant to the condenser fan in the outside unit. The condenser fan cools the refrigerant into a liquid state so it can absorb more heat.
  • After the refrigerant has been cooled, it travels inside your home to the evaporator coil. Next, the blower motor pushes the warm air in your house across the evaporator coil. As it passes, the cooled refrigerant in the evaporator coil absorbs heat and releases humidity. Then, the humidity becomes water that travels down your condensate drain line.
  • Once the refrigerant cools down the air in your home, it travels back outside to the condenser fan to cool off again.
  • Then the cycle begins again.