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Understanding The Physics Of An Air Conditioner

by Harvie Simms

The phenomenon of phase conversion is the guiding principle behind the modern air conditioner. The whole design of the AC unit is predicated on the need to carefully control when a coolant converts from phase to phase. Understanding how the components of the AC system work together to achieve this goal will help people know what maintenance to perform and what repairs to make in order to enhance the performance of their AC unit.

The Evaporator Coils

When a liquid coolant converts to a gas, the conversion from the liquid phase to the gas phase allows the coolant to absorb heat from its surroundings. As the coolant absorbs heat, the surrounding environment cools down. Thus, evaporator coils are located on the inside of a house so that as a fan pushes air over the the coils, the air gets cooled down and can then be used to cool the house. 

The Coolant Circulation System

An AC unit contains a fixed amount of coolant, so the coolant must be constantly recycled in order for the system to continue working. Thus, every AC unit will have coolant lines and a compressor. The lines guide the coolant through the system, and the compressor provides the motive force to move the coolant. 

The Condenser Coils

Once the coolant passes through the evaporator coils, it moves through the system as a super-heated gas. The coolant must be returned to a liquid state before it can be used again to cool the air flowing into a house. As the coolant passes through the condenser coils, a fan pushes air over the coils, and the air cools the coils, which in turn cool the coolant. Once the coolant gets cold enough, it will return to a liquid state. Because condenser coils expel heat into their environment, they are typically located on the outside of a house. 

Troubleshooting an AC Unit

As coils get dirty, the dirt on the coils insulates them and cuts off air flow. Dirty coils can reduce AC function and lead to higher cooling costs, so it is important to clean coils whenever they get dirty in order to preserve coil function. 

If you don't understand how AC coils work, it is easy to be intimidated by the thought of making repairs to an AC unit. While some things should be left to the professionals, homeowners should be able to clean their own coils when necessary. 

For more information, or if you would like professional assistance, contact Davis Repair Service or a similar company.

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