Many people think that air conditioning works by producing chilled air. This is a misperception because the machine does not produce anything. To be precise, the process only removes heat from the indoor air. But how is heat removed through air conditioning?
How is Heat Removed Through Air Conditioning
Air conditioners, both central and split systems, start by taking the indoor air into the machine. They do not take air from the outdoors, let alone produce it. Inside the machine, the chilling process occurs through four components of the unit:
The air goes through the evaporator first. This is where the heat is removed by the refrigerant. Refrigerant is a chemical agent placed in a closed loop of pipes. Refrigerant is a liquid. But as it absorbs the heat, its temperature rises and it evaporates into a gas.
This process results in a decreased air temperature. The evaporator also adds moisture to the air. The chilled and dehumidified air then gets blown back into the room, making your indoor air feel more comfortable. Meanwhile, the refrigerant moves forward to the compressor.
The gas refrigerant is compressed here, turning it into a hot gas, because compressing gas will increase its temperature. The compressor then moves the gas forward to the condenser.
The condenser is located in the outdoor unit of your air conditioner. When it reaches this component, the heat from the hot gas is released through the metal fins on the condenser. As the heat is getting out, the refrigerant turns back to liquid as the temperature goes back to normal. The chemical then flows along to the expansion valve.
An expansion valve is a narrow passage between the condensing coil and the evaporator coil. It regulates the amount of refrigerant that is returned to the evaporator. At this point, the refrigerant has completed one loop and is now back where it started, ready to restart the whole process.
In essence, your AC unit is merely a loop of refrigerant that transfers the heat from your indoor air out of the house. The process runs in a continuous cycle from the moment you turn your AC on until the time when you switch it off.
When your indoor air doesn’t seem to be cooled even though your AC is on, that means there is something wrong in the process of removing heat. It might be a refrigerant leak, or there might be one or more components failing to do their jobs properly.
The components of an AC will also deteriorate over time, making them unable to deliver optimum performance. Hence, you may notice that an old AC unit doesn’t remove heat as effectively as a new unit. Leaks in your refrigerant will also contribute to an AC’s failure to chill your indoor air.
If you are not sure how your AC is failing to remove heat from your indoor air, you might need a professional technician to perform an inspection and treatment.