When the summer heat ratchets up, you depend on your air conditioner to keep you both cool and safe. However, you may not have ever thought about how your air conditioner actually cools your home and what could go wrong. Here’s a peek behind the curtain of what makes your AC tick.
Your air conditioner circulates refrigerant between the indoor evaporator coil and the outdoor condensing unit. What the refrigerant actually does is absorb heat from the air circulating through your HVAC system. It then transports the heat outside and vents it out.
In order to absorb the heat, the refrigerant must get extremely cold. When the refrigerant pressure drops, the temperature also drops. The pressure drop happens as it enters the evaporator coil inside your home.
Once the refrigerant absorbs the heat, it travels outside to the condensing unit. The condenser increases the pressure, which also increases the temperature of the refrigerant moving through the condensing coil. The greater the temperature difference between the outside air and refrigerant, the more effectively it transfers heat out.
If something prevents the refrigerant from achieving the right pressures at the right time, it cannot cool your home effectively. Too little refrigerant and you risk freezing your air conditioner or its components. Too much refrigerant and you risk blowing the seals or damaging your compressor.
Why Air Circulation Matters
To cool your home, your HVAC system must be able to circulate air. Your circulating fan draws air in through the intake vent and forces it through the evaporator coil. It then pushes that cooler air back into your home.
Your system must have enough air moving through it to cool your home. The volume of air must be proportional to the size of your house. If it is too little, it takes too long to cool the rest of the air in your home.
However, if it circulates too much air, then it may not match the cooling capacity of your air conditioner unit. With this kind of mismatch, the system doesn’t draw out the heat from all the air circulating through the system.
What Could Go Wrong?
Beyond having a mismatch between air volume, house size, and cooling capacity, other issues may arise. These issues can affect airflow circulation, refrigerant pressure, or heat transference.
The most common issue with air conditioners is a clogged air filter. This prevents enough air from flowing into your system, reducing cooling efficiency, and at times causing AC freezes.
Then there are airflow restrictions caused by maintenance neglect. As your system runs, airborne contaminants not only collect on the air filter but also the circulating fan and evaporator coil.
These particles reduce the air volume circulating through your system. They also create a type of insulation on your evaporator coil, reducing the heat transference capacity.
Then there are refrigerant leaks that prevent your unit from achieving the appropriate refrigerant pressure. These leaks can be in the lines, at the evaporator or condensing coils, or even at the compressor. If the refrigerant is leaking inside your home, this may become hazardous to your health.
Finally, mechanical malfunctions can also lead to both refrigerant and air circulation problems. Common mechanical issues include burned our fan motors inside or outside, along with a malfunctioning compressor. You may also experience problems with electrical controls like the compressor capacitor or contactor switch.
Keeping It All Working
One of the biggest stressors over an aging air conditioner is wondering when it might break down or require a replacement. The best way to mitigate this stress is with routine maintenance.
The first step to maintenance is checking and changing your air filters regularly. In most cases, changing your filters about every 90 days may be sufficient, depending on your air quality and filter type. Checking your filters monthly and gently vacuuming the intake side of your filter will extend their useful life.
Then have professional maintenance on your system every year. During maintenance, a technician will clean your evaporator coil and circulating fan, inspect your air filter, and test your refrigerant level. They will also inspect individual components to ensure they are operating within their optimal tolerance.
People around Richmond have turned to Affordable Service Solutions Heating & Air Conditioning to keep their air conditioners cranking out cool air since 2012. Our team of expert technicians provides heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair services. Call to schedule your repair or maintenance visit with our team today.