happy-couple-looking-at-tabletNo one wants to know how the sausage gets made. Does that saying sound familiar?

Well what’s true for the sausage is true for the air conditioner.

Most of us don’t want to know, and frankly don’t care how the air conditioner keeps us cool, as long as it works on the hottest days of the year.

But what would you say if we told you that knowing the four major parts of your air conditioner and what they do can help you catch and prevent problems in the future? That identifying a small repair now could save you big, costly repairs and replacements later on?

It’s true! You don’t have to be a certified expert, but it does help to know about the basics of your air conditioner.

How the Big 4 Air Conditioner Parts Work

A central air conditioner is a split system, meaning one part is located outside and the other is inside your home.

The inside part connects to your furnace’s air handler, which pushes the air through the filter and then through your home. Air is passed through the air conditioner with fans that push it outside, over the coils, and back into your house.

It sounds complicated, right? We won’t lie, it takes a moment to wrap your head around, but hopefully this diagram of the four major parts of the air conditioner will help.

Diagram How AC Works

1. The Evaporator

You can thank your evaporator for delivering your cool air during hot summers. The evaporator uses pressure to convert the liquid refrigerant into gas. A fan then blows the air that has been pumped in from your house over the cooling coils and back into your home.

You have to keep an eye out for too much or too little refrigerant, which could affect your evaporator. A parched evaporator will result in a bad performance in your evaporator coil. Too much refrigerant and it will pass, liquefied, into the compressor.

2. Expansion Valve

You can’t have an evaporator without an expansion valve. Located between the evaporator and the condenser, the expansion valve removes the pressure from the liquid refrigerant, allowing the evaporator to do its job.

Like every other part of the air conditioner, your expansion valve has to be in good working order. There are some ways to tell if it’s malfunctioning or just plain broken.

  • If your AC is blowing warm air or frost. We know it sounds weird, but both can happen if the expansion valve is not processing the coolant correctly.
  • If the compressor is constantly working. Your compressor will constantly be pumping refrigerant, even if you don’t need it to, if your expansion valve is faulty.

3. The Condenser

A condenser is the opposite of an evaporator, and is located outside. Instead of turning liquid to gas, it turns the refrigerant back to a liquid using a process called a heat transfer.

Your condenser is an essential part of your air conditioner, so it is important that it is in tip top shape. Keep an eye out for things like outdoor debris, and electrical failures, which could affect the condenser and your air conditioner’s performance.

4. Compressor

Your compressor goes hand in hand with your condenser. They’re the tag team that makes the heat transfer process a reality. The compressor’s job is to re-pressurize the refrigerant gas, once again bringing it back to it’s liquid form. It then moves the air between the condenser and evaporator.

A compressor is bound to give you some grief if it isn’t properly maintained. It runs on a motor, and therefore is prone to similar problems as any other system that operates on one. It can stutter, overheat, and eventually burn out. Keep an ear out for unusual sounds, and if you are noticing that your air conditioner isn’t keeping you as cool as it used to, call us.

Watch Out for Leaking Refrigerant

One of the problems that can happen in either the condenser or evaporator coils is leaking refrigerant. It can even happen around the compressor or expansion valve. If you’re leaking refrigerant, this is a problem that should be attended to by professional HVAC technicians.

Signs that your refrigerant is leaking includes:

  • Water puddles around your furnace.
  • Lower than usual air flow from the vents.
  • Air feels warmer.
  • It takes longer to cool down the house.

If you notice any of these signs, don’t hesitate to call. Better to fix a small problem now than find out you have a much bigger one down the road.

We Can Fix the Problem, No Matter Where It Is

Being able to identify not only the parts, but what the potential problem could be, makes it easier when you call us. Our team of professional technicians will come take a look and make sure that all the parts of your air conditioner are in good working order.

Once we fix the problem, avoid future ones by getting annual maintenance that will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Learn More About Regular Maintenance