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How Does an Air Conditioner Work? A Step-by-Step Guide

Summer’s arrived, and that means that everyone’s looking to their air conditioner for relief from the heat. If you have put off scheduling AC repairs for your Northern Kentucky home, now is the time to do so before another heatwave sets in.

Whether you’ve got a fully operational unit or are waiting for your AC service technician to pay your home a visit, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how your air conditioner cools the air. While this minor detail may seem innocuous, the reality is that knowing how air conditioners works will help you diagnose what you can fix and whether a contractor is trying to pull one over on you.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Basic Premise

Everyone knows that having central air results in a constant supply of cold air to keep you cool during a hot summer. So while this may be a good enough place to stop for individuals who can afford to call someone anytime they have the slightest issue, it’s worth taking the extra step to understand how your home’s hot air is made comfortable.

Air conditioners operate on a fundamental principle: they pull heat out of the air in your home and transfer it outside via refrigerant, which gets passed between a compressor and condenser through the evaporator coils. The compressor forces the heat out of the refrigerant by applying high pressure to the enclosed system. When the refrigerant completes its cycle, meaning it has absorbed and released the hot air found indoors, it returns back indoors to start the process all over again. This continues until the indoor temperature reaches the same temperature set on your thermostat.

How It’s Set Up In Your Home

A modern air conditioning system builds on this fundamental principle of heat transference to keep you cool. In a traditional setup, your AC service is divided between an outdoor unit and an indoor one. The outdoor unit houses the compressor and dissipates the warm air with the help of metal fins that often enclose the space. The indoor unit houses the evaporator and pulls the heat from the air that circulates in your ductwork, allowing it to filter the air of dust and make it more comfortable in the summer.

However, with recent advances in air conditioner technology, traditional ductwork isn’t always necessary. If you prefer to have specific rooms cooler than others, it might make more sense to use a split system than traditional AC. The only real difference between a split system and a more conventional system is that a split AC system is more targeted, pulling hot air out of specific areas in your home directly rather than with the help of ductwork and a centralized unit.

How Does It Know When to Start Conditioning?

Your air conditioner doesn’t sweat the way you might when it gets too hot, so how does it know when to start doing its job? 

Every air conditioner has a thermostat, which is typically located in a centralized location for the home or the room, depending on what type of system you have. The thermostat takes a reading of the air temperature and then lets the system know when it becomes so warm that it needs to turn on.

To find out more about how your cooling system works, or schedule an AC service with a leading HVAC contractor in Hamilton, contact Arlinghaus today!

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