A complete guide to the different components of your air conditioning system and how they fit together
Your air conditioner and heater is a much more complicated system than most people think.
It’s certainly much more than a glorified ceiling fan. If you’ve ever had a local HVAC professional come to fix an AC problem, you may have discovered that there are numerous parts of your system that you hadn’t heard of before. Why should you care about the basic workings of your air conditioning system? Because this knowledge can help you more easily identify and potentially fix problems as they arise.
Here’s a look at the main parts of your air conditioning system and how each of them works to make your home’s indoor temperature comfortable.
The condenser is the outside unit of your air conditioning system. It sits outside on the ground and is typically round or square-shaped.
The condenser is a very essential part of your system—it’s responsible for releasing the heat that your refrigerant has absorbed into the atmosphere. Refrigerant enters the condenser as a vapor but turns into a liquid as it cools while flowing through the condenser and condenser coils.
The compressor is a large AC component located inside of the condenser and isn’t visible.
The compressor helps the condenser by increasing the refrigerant’s pressure enough for the condenser to change the high pressure vapor into a liquid.
Lineset is the term that refers to the copper lines that run between the outdoor and indoor portions of your unit. These lines are used to transport either liquid or gas refrigerant from one component to the next in the cycle.
Just as the compressor assists the condenser by adjusting the pressure of the refrigerant, the expansion valve assists the evaporator. The expansion valve serves to lessen the pressure of the liquid refrigerant so that it can turn back into a gas inside of the evaporator.
The evaporator serves essentially the opposite purpose of the condenser and is typically located inside the top of your air conditioning system. Cooler, liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator from the condenser (via the lineset) and is met with lower pressure.
When this happens, the liquid refrigerant turns back into a gas and absorbs heat from the air around it, cooling the inside of your home.
After this takes place, the gas refrigerant makes its way back to the condenser and the cycle repeats itself until your home is at a comfortable temperature.
Besides the parts mentioned above, there are a few other components of your air conditioning system worth mentioning:
- Your thermostat does more work than you think. It monitors the temperature in your home and either sustains from or sets the cooling process in motion according to your settings.
- When your air conditioning system pulls in air for cooling, the air filter helps trap any pollen, pet dander, dust or other particles from being re-circulated. Keeping these particles out of your air and system is vital to the unit’s function.
Problems with any one of these components have the potential to derail your air conditioning system, but regular maintenance can help prevent these problems from arising.
Talk to a Houston HVAC expert at Richmond’s Air
If you’re in the Houston area, contact the professionals at Richmond’s Air if you notice any problems or just want to make sure everything is running smoothly. We offer maintenance, repair and cleaning for every component of your system.
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