How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Air conditioning is one of the most important comforts of modern life, and here in Portland, OR, it’s essential to handling the high humidity and periodic heat waves that accompany our summers. But despite its prominence in our lives, comparatively few people know how air conditioners do their jobs. Specifics vary by make and model of air conditioner, but the essentials remain unchanged. The more you know about your system, the more readily you can respond when the time comes for maintenance or repair. How does air conditioning work? We’ve provided a quick primer below.

Refrigerant Cools the Air

At the heart of the system is refrigerant, a chemical mixture colloquially known as “Freon” but usually comprising a variety of different components. Whatever its specific make up, it pulls heat from the air when it shifts from liquid to gaseous form, a phenomenon that your AC system harnesses to cool the air in your home. That process depends on specific amounts of refrigerant and a specific type of refrigerant (again, varying by model), which is why your AC unit can run into trouble when the refrigerant runs low.

A Closed Loop

The refrigerant starts the process in gaseous form, then passes through a condenser array that subjects it to a great deal of heat and pressure. The process reduces it to liquid form, but keeps the pressure on until it passes into the second part of the loop. A valve releases a set amount into the evaporator coils, Where it reverts to gaseous form. In the process, it pulls heat in from the nearby air, which a fan then blows through the ducts and into your home. Once it reverts to a gaseous state, the refrigerant returns to the condenser array to start the process again.

As you can imagine, it’s a fairly delicate process and problems can easily disrupt it. When they do, you can count on The Clean Air Act Inc. to set things right. Give us a call today!

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