The Science Behind Your Air Conditioner During the Summer

The air conditioner in your Palm Beach, Florida, home has a big job. It battles serious heat and humidity throughout the summer months, providing you with a cool and comfortable haven from the conditions outside. Although you can easily take your air conditioner for granted, understanding more about how it works can help you get a better idea of how to properly use and maintain it. Your air conditioner needs regular care and attention to provide you with optimum cooling and energy efficiency.

The Power of Refrigerant

The key to your air conditioner’s cooling capabilities lies in the refrigerant. This chemical loops through the system moving heat from one area to another. Refrigerant can exist in both a liquid and a gaseous state. It enters your home as a cool liquid where it absorbs heat to become a gas. The refrigerant flows outside in its gaseous state and is then compressed into a liquid again. When this phase transition takes place, the refrigerant expels the heat outside your home before returning to repeat the process.

All other parts of your air conditioning system work to facilitate this movement of heat. Although the refrigerant in your air conditioner is continually moving, the system never uses all of it up. One common misconception is that, over time, you’ll naturally experience low refrigerant levels. This situation shouldn’t be the case. If your refrigerant levels are low, you have a leak in the system that needs professional attention.

Key Air Conditioner Components

With the basics of refrigerant in mind, it’s easier to understand the other components of your air conditioning system.

  • The evaporator: The evaporator coils are those in which the refrigerant evaporates into a heated gaseous state inside the home.
  • Blower motor: Your air conditioner’s blower motor blows air over the evaporator, where it removes heat and cools the air. Watch out for strange sounds that may indicate the blower isn’t working properly.
  • The compressor: This component compresses the air, increasing pressure and making it hotter.
  • The condenser: In the condenser, the gaseous refrigerant releases its heat and returns to a liquid state.
  • Outdoor coils and fan: The outdoor coils expel heat via the refrigerant. The fan in your air conditioning system’s exterior unit pushes the hot air out and away from your home.

Dehumidification Features

As your air conditioner cools the air, it also provides natural dehumidification. Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. As air passes over the evaporator cool to deposit its heat, it also leaves behind some of its humidity. This water drips into the condensate drain pan below. From this pan, it flows through your system’s condensate line and gets pumped outside.

This functionality is particularly important in Florida’s humid climate. High indoor humidity can contribute to many problems, including biological growth. Watch for water pooling beneath your air conditioner, a sign that may indicate the condensate line is clogged and your condensate pump isn’t working properly.

Air Conditioner Controls

Although the actual process by which your air conditioner cools your home may seem complex, the role that you need to play in it is fairly simple. The entire air conditioning system connects to your thermostat, which tells it how and when to operate. If your thermostat is set to auto, it’ll automatically turn the air conditioner on and off as needed to maintain your preferred temperature.

If you use the fan setting on your air conditioner, this action will circulate air through the home using the blower motor without engaging the cooling function by circulating refrigerant. While the fan setting won’t cool your home, it does help improve indoor air quality if you’re not using your air conditioner for a period of time due to comfortable outdoor temperatures.

Your air conditioner requires regular care and maintenance to do its job well throughout the summer months. You should schedule a tune-up once a year to get the optimum performance from your system. If you need air conditioning service, contact Preferred Air Conditioning & Mechanical, LLC at 561-202-1422 to schedule your appointment.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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