How much do you know about your air conditioning system? Most people have a strong understanding of how to use the thermostat to turn it on, off and adjust the temp, but beyond that . . . it’s pretty fuzzy. The problem is, understanding the basics of how your A/C system works not only makes you a more well-rounded homeowner, it also makes things easier when it’s time to call for a repair or shop for a new system. So it’s well worth taking a few minutes to learn how the whole thing works!
Let’s take a look at the anatomy and workings of a typical A/C system.
The Parts Inside Your Home
Plenum – This is the technical name for the metal box that sits on top of your furnace or air handler (if you have a vertical furnace in a basement) or on one end of it (if you have a horizontal furnace in the attic). It houses the evaporator coil and the compressor, and it is connected to the ductwork system that allows cooled air to disperse throughout your home.
Evaporator coil – One of the main parts housed inside the plenum, this coil holds the refrigerant that absorbs heat. When combined with the blower element in your air handler or furnace, this “indoor coil” or “evaporator core” is what creates the cold air you love on a hot August day.
Condensate drain – This is the pipe (typically white PVC) that runs from the evaporator coil to either a drain in the floor or to a condensate pump. The moisture (condensate) that is created by the evaporator coil is removed from the plenum using this pipe and drain/pump combo.
Ductwork – This is the system of sheet metal ducts that run throughout your house. Cooled (or heated) air is forced through the ductwork by the blower, allowing it to travel to the different areas of your home.
The Parts Outside Your Home
Condenser – The big, round-cornered box-y fan thing that sits outside your house? That’s your condenser, sometimes referred to as the “outside unit.” It is made up of a compressor, evaporator fins, and a condenser coil and is connected to the house by the lineset.
Compressor – The compressor lives inside the condenser. When the refrigerant vapor arrives in its loose gaseous form, it has to be heated and compressed, a process which packs the molecules closer together and brings the energy higher. Then, it travels to the condenser coil to be cooled into a high-pressure liquid.
Condensor coil – The condenser coil functions as a heat exchanger system powered by evaporator fins (the fan) that cool down and condense the heated refrigerant vapor into liquid, simultaneously releasing the heat to the outside air. The cooled liquid is then sent inside the home to the evaporator coil using the lineset.
Lineset – This thin copper piping connects the condenser coil and the evaporator coil. Its job is to maintain high pressure on the cooled refrigerant liquid as it is transferred inside and then released into the evaporator coil, where the sudden decrease in pressure causes the refrigerant to pull heat from the air (thereby cooling the air) and return to a gaseous state.
Now you know how the whole system works together to keep your home cool and comfortable. If you suspect any part of your A/C system is acting up, give us a call at (330) 499-4988 and we’ll be happy to take a look!