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Your air conditioner keeps you and your family comfortable throughout the cooling season in your Garner, North Carolina, home. Have you ever wondered how air conditioners work? Let’s look at the basics of your air conditioner and how the two main components, the evaporator and condenser coils, function.

How Does My Air Conditioner Work?

The air conditioning system actually revolves around heat transfer. The AC system has an indoor unit, the evaporator coil, and an outdoor unit which houses the compressor, condenser coil, and a fan. The units connect through lines that contain a chemical fluid known as a refrigerant. The inside evaporator allows the refrigerant to absorb heat that is in your home.

The fluid containing the heat then flows to the outside unit and is released outside. The compressor keeps the fluid moving throughout the system, constantly reusing the same refrigerant. As the fluid is moving back into the house, it moves through the condenser, which blows air over it and cools it. That cool air gets blown into your house and the refrigerant once again absorbs heat and the loop continues.

What Is an Evaporator Coil?

The evaporator coil is the part of the air conditioning system that sits inside of your home near the air handler and is where the refrigerant absorbs heat. The evaporator coil uses U-shaped metallic tubes that easily conduct the heat the refrigerant flows through. Metal "fins" are located on the outside of the coils. They bring the warm air close to the inside of the coil and the refrigerant.

The refrigerant circulating is a cold vapor at this stage, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows it to efficiently absorb heat. Once the refrigerant leaves the evaporator coil, it flows through insulated tubing to the outside unit that houses the compressor and the condenser coil.

As the refrigerant enters into the compressor, it becomes pressurized, which then raises the temperature of the fluid to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit and turns into a gaseous state. This compressed hot air is quickly and easily released into the outside. That is how the heat from your home gets transferred to the outside.

What Is a Condenser Coil?

The main function of the condenser coil is to release the hot pressurized gas and then turn the fluid back into a liquid state so it can return to the house and the evaporator coil to absorb heat once again. Before it enters the evaporator coil it has to go through an expansion valve. The valve restricts the flow of the refrigerant and pressurizes it back into vapor once again where it easily can absorb the heat.

How Do I Maintain My System?

As with any part of your HVAC system, the better you maintain it, the more efficient it will run. The outside condenser unit needs frequent cleaning from any outside debris that accumulates. As a homeowner, you can make sure to clear brush away and keep the unit clean to allow sufficient airflow. If the fins of the coil become clogged with grass or brush, the condenser has to work harder to release the hot air that can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner, raise energy bills, and shorten its lifespan.

Because the evaporator coil is sealed within the air handler, it is important that our trained technicians perform maintenance tasks on that part of the system. We will make sure that the refrigerant levels are at the right level and sufficiently charged, as well as clean the coils and check for any leaks or corrosion caused by moisture. Investing in a maintenance plan with us will ensure timely inspections. We can fix any small issues before they become a bigger problem.

To schedule maintenance on your air conditioner or to learn more about evaporator and condenser coils, give our team at Cape Fear Air Conditioning, Heating, & Electrical Company, Inc. a call today. You can reach us at 919-246-5801.

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