A Look at An Air Conditioner Cooling Cycle

With the arrival of spring comes rising temperatures. It's time to make sure your air conditioner is ready for the heat and humidity of a Georgia summer. Air conditioners are basically a way to transfer heat from inside your home or business to the outdoors. While the concept seems simple enough, it's important to have a professional perform AC maintenance in Acworth, GA.

ACs require electricity and chemicals, like refrigerants, to run. While it takes training to handle these components effectively, understanding your system's cooling cycle and knowing what should occur during each one is helpful so that you recognize problems that require professional AC repair.


The Refrigerant

The chemical compound used in an air conditioner is called refrigerant, which absorbs the heat from inside your home or business, then pumps it outside. The type of refrigerant your AC uses is generally found on a plate or sticker on the unit's compressor or evaporator. This chemical has the ability to change from a liquid to a gas, then change back again. For an air conditioning system to perform efficiently, the refrigerant must be used over and over. Your air conditioning unit achieves this process through a four-step, thermodynamic cycle of compression, condensation, expansion, and evaporation to absorb and release heat.


Compression

The AC unit's compressor is a device that pumps the refrigerant through the air conditioning system. This operation requires that the refrigerant flows at a specific rate and pressure level. At this point, the vapor is at a lower pressure and is being compressed. As the vapor is compressed, both its pressure and temperature increases to the point that it's higher than the outdoor temperature. The higher the temperature, the harder the compressor has to work. By the time the refrigerant leaves the compressor through the copper refrigerant lines, it's extremely hot. Touching these lines can cause severe burns.


Condensation

The condenser coils perform the second step of the air conditioning cycle. As the vapor enters the condenser coil, a fan cools the coil, which in turn cools the refrigerant. This cooling transforms the vapor into a liquid. The heat removed from the refrigerant loses thermal energy while being released into the outdoor air.


Expansion

The liquid flows to the expansion valve, a metering device that designates the point between the high pressure and low pressure sides of the AC system. These pressures designate the pressures of the refrigerant. The expansion valve restricts the flow of the high pressure liquid. This restriction lowers the liquid's pressure level before it leaves the expansion valve.


Evaporation

Once the refrigerant leaves the expansion valve, it enters the system's evaporator. Heat from the inside air is absorbed and blown across the evaporator by a fan. The refrigerant starts to boil and then transforms back into a gas or vapor. Once the refrigerant is once again a gas, it moves to the compressor, and the cycle repeats.


Maintenance and Installation

For an air conditioner to perform as it should, it must be charged with the proper amount of refrigerant recommended by the manufacturer. Periodic maintenance is essential to protect your investment through professional maintenance. Shriver Mechanical, Inc. offers experienced AC service, along with air conditioner installation in Acworth, GA, and the surrounding areas. Learn more about our services by visiting our website where you can request an estimate or schedule an appointment.