Knowing how air conditioners work can be beneficial in helping you understand important maintenance issues. Many people appreciate their AC systems during the summer months in Washington DC, and a system failure can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Don’t wait until your unit is malfunctioning to learn about your system.
Heat Exchange and Your Cooling System
You might be surprised to know that your AC unit is actually a heat exchanger. Heat is an integral part of how air conditioners work. Refrigerant is the material that causes heat exchange, and its travel through a loop to condensing and expansion coils facilitates the process.
When the refrigerant expands in the indoor coil, it becomes extremely cold. It begins to absorb heat from the surrounding air. Have you ever noticed a glass with an iced beverage as it sweats? This is the same process. The air very close to that glass is cooler, and the condensation on your glass is the result of the heat exchange process. In your air conditioning loop, the exchange causes the surrounding air to cool. A blower moves that cold air through ducts and into various rooms in your home.
The refrigerant wouldn’t be very effective if it stayed in place. Your cold drink will eventually reach room temperature through heat exchange. However, your cooling system moves the heated refrigerant through the loop to the outdoor condensing coil. As the Freon or Puron is condensed, it becomes extremely hot. The heat is released into the outdoor air. If you stand near the outdoor unit while this is taking place, you will notice that it’s much warmer close to the system.
How Air Conditioners Work Affects Your Maintenance Plans
There are two important aspects of your system that lead to important maintenance tasks. The cooling is based on proper levels of refrigerant and proper movement through the loop. The movement of cool air is based on a working blower and a healthy system of ducts.
You must check your filter regularly so that it doesn’t become clogged and affect the air stream. Start your summer with a new filter, and look for MERV ratings up to 12 on your model. More dense filters can cause pressure problems and affect your airflow.
Your blower and ducts should be inspected regularly. Belts on blowers can wear out and need replacement. Moving parts should be checked. Inspection of your ducts for leaks is important because this issue can lead to inefficient cooling in your rooms and can also contribute to as much as a 30 percent loss of energy. Refrigerant levels should be checked and adjusted as well because of the importance of the material in the operation of your system.
Can I Perform These Maintenance Tasks?
While you may be talented at home improvements, it’s important that you work with a professional to have your system serviced. Griffiths Energy Services recommends a spring inspection and tune-up so that your equipment is optimized in advance of your summer cooling needs.
Written by Kevin Spain