How Does an Air Conditioner Work?
Actually, it’s quite a simple process how an air conditioner can cool your home. There’s an indoor and outdoor portion to most units, and refrigerant is pumped through both portions. Air is pulled out of your home through an intake vent. Then, the refrigerant cools the air before it is sent back in through vents. Most air conditioners installed in homes use either R-410A or R-22. These are refrigerants referred to as hydrofluourocarbons.
There are basically four main sections of an air conditioner: the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and expansion device.
- In the evaporator, the refrigerant returns to a gas state as it warms up and cools the air. Air taken out of the home is blown against coils containing the refrigerant to cool it down.
- The gas refrigerant is sent to the compressor, where it is pressed together. It gets hotter at this point.
- Next, the refrigerant goes to the condenser. Here it, is condensed into a liquid and heat is taken away. It is once again cold.
- Finally, the liquid refrigerant is pumped into the expansion device where it once again cools air down.
This is an efficient system that is used in almost every type of air conditioner you could choose for your home.
What Types of A/C Units Are Available?
There are a few different types of air conditioners that you could choose for your home (in addition to “window units”). There are certain conditions when each of these would be a wise choice to make. As mentioned previously, there are times when each of these types of air conditioners will work the best in a home. It’s important to speak with a professional to determine what will be ideal in your own situation.
Split Air Conditioners
These are the most common in homes throughout the United States. The unit includes an evaporator inside the house with the rest of the unit outdoors. A series of ducts throughout the home moves the cooled air into rooms.
This is a system that provides heat during the winter and cooling during the summer by basically reversing itself. During the summer, it extracts heat from the air indoors. During the winter, it pulls heat from the air and ground outdoors and pumps it inside.
Centralized Air Conditioners
In this system, all parts are combined into one package that is installed outdoors, usually on the roof or on a slab. Instead of recycling the air indoors, it pulls air from outside, cools it, and then moves it through ducts to the house.
Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioners
Homes that do not already have duct work in place could benefit from these systems. They don’t require ducts, which can be extremely expensive to install. Essentially, they still include an outdoor and indoor component. They also have a blower on the indoor system to blow cold air throughout a room. Often, they are installed high up on the wall to get colder air in the place of hot air, which tends to rise.
What Parts Wear out the Quickest?
Once you have an air conditioner keeping your home cool and comfortable, you will need to ensure it continues working for the foreseeable future. Partially, that means having professionals inspect and maintain the unit on a regular basis. Additionally, it means knowing what may wear out so that you can get those parts promptly replaced. Below are the most common parts to wear out on a standard air conditioning unit.
The refrigerant will run in tubing from one part of the unit to another. If that tubing gets broken or worn, then it will start to leak. When refrigerant gets low, then the air conditioner can be damaged in a number of different ways.
The controls for both the compressor and the fan can wear out quickly if the air conditioner is turned on and off quite often. Corrosion often leads to damage to the terminals and worn out wires. This needs to be replaced immediately to get the unit working again.
The sensor within the thermostat lives on a delicate balance. If it gets jostled, moved, or bent, then it won’t work properly. The air conditioner may come on at the wrong times and shut off at the wrong times too. The sensor will need to be bent back into proper place to function correctly.
The air conditioner can’t work if the compressor fails. And this is a very common and expensive problem many owners face. Often, it’s a preventable problem too. Compressor failure and damage can be caused by dirty coils on the condenser, clogged drains and suction lines, low refrigerant, and electrical failure.
If you live in Las Vegas, then likely you already have an air conditioner or you are in the market for one now. These climate control devices can make the hot summers more tolerable. Choosing the right one means knowing your options and understanding how they work. Keeping it working means knowing what parts wear out often so that you can replace them as needed.