The Structure and Function of An Air Conditioning System

Essentially, an air conditioner is a mechanical and electrical technology that removes heat from a space and replaces it with cooled air. The inside air is cooled by forcing it over an evaporator coil. This coil is filled with refrigerant which changes from a liquid to a gas as it absorbs the heat in the air.  This refrigerant is pumped to an outside area and a different coil(condenser) changes the gas back into a liquid. The compressor(pump) propels the liquid between the two different coils where the refrigerant either gives up heat or takes it on.

The Definition of a Ton of Cooling

The science of air conditioning was actually born from the science and technologies surrounding refrigeration. In the past, cooling was done by encasing and using large blocks of ice. Original machines that cooled areas had their capacities measured and determined based on an equivalent amount of ice that would melt in one day. A ‘ton’ is actually defined as 12,000 BTU/hour of cooling. BTU stands for a British Thermal Unit.

What May Go Wrong With An Air Conditioner

An air conditioning system is a ‘closed system’ calling into play several different electrical/mechanical parts. The system must have a precise amount of chemical refrigerant, a definite amount of air flow across coils, and all parts must be working in precise synchronicity. The production of more heat indoors combined with low refrigerant will cause the system to perform poorly. If air flow across the outside coils(condenser) is low, the capacity of the unit to dispel heat outdoors will diminish. Because moisture impacts the skins sense of heat or cool, adding moisture to the inside atmosphere(humidification) and taking moisture out of the atmosphere(dehumidification) are all important and must be controlled. If humidity levels are not kept within acceptable ranges, the system may not be able to adequately cool a space.

What Air Filters Do

Air filters remove molds, dust, and other harmful contaminants from the air in your home. As the filter works it’s fibers take on more contaminants. It can become clogged over time. It must be replaced periodically to maintain system efficiency.

Regular Maintenance is Vital

A professionally serviced air conditioning system will last longer, function more efficiently, and reduce your out of pocket expenditure. There are a few things that a homeowner may do such as keeping the system clean and replacing filters. However, there are some things that only a professionally trained and skilled technician can do such as finding leaks in refrigerant lines, troubleshooting electrical issues, and evaluating air flow issues.

Air Conditioning Ducts are Important

Ducts are the means by which air is circulated through your home or office. These ducts are joined together and usually a mastic is applied to seal the point at which they are joined. Over time, these ducts may leak causing your system to overwork and possibly fail. Ducts need to be adequately insulated and routed through the space so as to avoid heated areas that will cause an increased air temperature.

Make Your Area Efficient

Your air conditioner will be more efficient if the area around the system is energy efficient. Consider increasing the energy efficiency of your home/office by increasing the quality and rating of your insulation. Think about shading windows and reducing the amount of air that leaks from your structure. Seal cracks, seams, and holes in the ‘envelope’ of your home. Use high efficiency products and appliances throughout your home. Make note of energy efficiency ratings and consider evaluating your area in line with the index at

Knowing these things will help you in your basic understanding of your HVAC system. There may be a time when your system is not cooling adequately and knowing some of these things will assist you to troubleshoot some areas.