We use our air conditioner to keep our home cool and comfortable during the summer season, but do we know how it works? Air conditioners are an important function of our home—an assembly of various components that not only maintains temperature levels but also improves air quality. So, how does an air conditioner work? Also, why is it beneficial to know the composition of your AC unit? Here’s a central air conditioning system.
Table of Contents
How Does AC Work?
Let’s begin with the outdoor condensing unit. This is the large metal box positioned in your backyard. The condensing unit houses everything that keeps your home cold. The interior of the condenser includes the condenser coils, the compressor, and the condenser fan motor. These components of the air conditioner work to move air in and out of your home. The compressor, the pump of the operation, condenses refrigerant into a form of gas and pushes it to the condenser coils. From there, the condenser coils cool the hot liquid, while the condenser fan assists. After the refrigerant travels through the condenser coils, it will then move to the evaporator coils.
The evaporator coils are located inside of the home, typically situated on top of the furnace. These coils utilize the furnace’s central air ducts to deliver and remove air. Once the cooled liquid leaves the condensing unit and travels to the evaporator coil, it will expand into the form of gas. This refrigerant gas cools the evaporator coils and will loop back to the condensing unit to repeat the process. Once the evaporator coils are cold, the coils are used to decrease the temperature of incoming air.
The blower motor is situated inside of the furnace and simply blows air. The blower motor of a central air conditioner works by collecting warm air through a return vent. Once the air is collected, it is distributed to the cold evaporator coils. Finally, it will blow the cooled air through the home’s venting ducts. This cool air will circulate and be pulled back into the return vent until the room reaches the desired temperature fixed on the thermostat.
What Causes the Air Conditioner Compressor to Malfunction?
Now that you know how an air conditioner works, it’s important to detect underlying issues that may occur. The compressor serves as the heart of the unit: it’s fully responsible for giving energy to the refrigerant, which cools your home.
So if your system fails, you may point to the heart of your system before anything else. However, replacing a failed compressor without addressing the underlying issue could cause your compressor to fail again. This means more hard-earned money out of your pocket. Here are some common problems that cause your compressor to fail.
4 Causes of Air Conditioner Compressor Failure
Contaminated Condenser Coils
Over time, dust, debris, and grime can build-up on our condenser, disrupting the airflow of your home. Residue hinders the air conditioner’s ability to remove enough heat from the system, which in turn, forces it to run continuously. More pressure and less cooling can overheat the compressor, eventually causing it to fail.
Incorrect Refrigerant Line Size
An incorrect, damaged, or blocked refrigerant line can create some problems for your AC compressor. Malfunctioning refrigerant lines will maximize the pressure of your AC system, and overheat your compressor. This results in your system not cooling your home as it should. If you suspect you have a refrigerant line issue, contact an HVAC professional right away.
Electrical Failure & Buildup of Acids
If your compressor fails, you may need to have your technician test for a buildup of acids. An electrical failure can cause a buildup of acids in your system, which triggers a compressor failure. Routine maintenance can prevent electrical failure from occurring. During an inspection, the technician will locate and fix any damaged fuses or wiring to ensure your air conditioner is working properly.
Not Enough Oil Lubricant
Without enough oil lubricant, your system can’t operate to the best ability. Insufficient oil lubricants can be the root of many system mishaps, including compressor failure. Once again, scheduling regular maintenance on your system can ensure that it always has the adequate lubricant levels needed to run effectively.
Steps of a Professional Air Conditioner Tune-Up Appointment
We’ll say it over and over again. The best way to keep your air conditioner long-lasting and in pristine condition is to get routine maintenance. Routine maintenance can help technicians detect any potential problems before they occur, saving you money and stress in the long run. Most HVAC issues could be avoided if someone detected the issue beforehand. Let’s take a look at some of the things an expert technician should do during a tune-up appointment to ensure your air conditioner is working efficiently.
Inspect the Outdoor Refrigerant Lines
A good technician should examine the refrigerant lines for any detection of damage. With the outdoor unit constantly coming in contact with outside elements including dust, dirt, debris, twigs, rocks, and more, your refrigerant lines can begin leaking. As a result, your air conditioner won’t be able to cool your home.
Inspection on Refrigerant Piping Insulation
Your local technician should check the refrigerant piping insulation as well. If the refrigerant line of your system is not insulated properly, this issue can cause water to leak and drip onto the floor. And you don’t want water leakage. Water drips can cause mold to form in your home.
Measure the Amperage of the Air Conditioner
Amperage is the unit for measuring electricity, more specifically, how fast an electric current flows. An excessive amperage pull may indicate potential issues with the compressor. Having a technician measure the amperage could help determine a problem before it even occurs.
Inspect the Capacitor
The capacitor on your unit stores energy, sending jolts to the system whenever starting the motor or keeping it running. This device works with the compressor, the blower motor, and the outside fan, which is why it’s important to have this inspected regularly. If your air conditioner motor is not working properly, this may be due to malfunctioning capacitors.
Inspect the Balance of the Fan Blade
Sometimes during the winter season, ice can form on the blades of your air conditioner, causing them to be off-balanced. As a result, when warmer weather arrives, your unit may rattle more than normal. This could potentially damage the components of your system.
Confirm If There Are Rodent Issues or Damaged Wires
A technician will have to check to ensure that there are no chewed wires. Rodents and bugs can get into your electrical system and damage your wires. This can over time cause some long term malfunctions to your system.
Inspect the Refrigerant Caps for Optimal Torque
A technician will ensure that the caps for the optimal torque are sealed tight. Loosed caps can result in refrigerant leakage, which will damage your air conditioning system.
Test Motor Capacitors
This should be on the top of the tuneup checklist. Ensuring that all electrical motors are functioning properly is important. Typically, an electrical failure can cause the entire system to fail.
Heat Pump & HVAC Services
When you want the best air conditioning repair services, our team has got you covered. Prepare for warmer or cooler weather with our HVAC services. Our team of licensed technicians offers HVAC repair and replacement services for heat pumps, air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, and ductless mini-split systems. Give us a call by phone at (732) 201-3305 or book an appointment on our site to receive emergency heating or cooling support.