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How Does a Central Air Conditioning System Work?

How Does a Central Air Conditioning System Work?

It’s 90 degrees outside, but inside it’s a cool 78. Many homeowners assume their air conditioners will work without issue—but if there is a problem, they’re lost until they can contact a professional.

Having a basic understanding of how central air conditioning functions is beneficial for any homeowner. That way, when it doesn’t work, you might be able to troubleshoot the problem yourself. While most repairs should be handled by an experienced HVAC technician, there are certain fixes you can perform yourself, such as changing the air filter or clearing the condensate line.

How Central Air Works

It all starts with the thermostat. The AC receives a signal from the thermostat to drop the temperature to a set degree, kicking off a series of events.

1. The air handler pulls air from rooms and forces it through a filter, which captures dust and debris, then through the air-supply ducts
2. The air is chilled through a coil containing liquid refrigerant
3. A blower returns the conditioned air back through the ducts

Pretty simple!

The Components of Central Air

Most residential central air units are “split systems” which consist of a condenser, an evaporator, and a compressor. The bulky outdoor unit, typically located on the side of the house, contains the condenser and the compressor. This is where the air is cooled -- more accurately, this is where heat is absorbed from the air. It’s the absence of heat that creates the cool air you enjoy in your home.

How is hot air absorbed? That’s due to the refrigerant which travels through copper tubing between the condenser and the evaporator located inside the air handler. The air handler is inside your home, usually in the basement or attic. The refrigerant absorbs heat, which turns to vapor, which is then transferred outside. From there, the refrigerant is turned back into a low-temperature liquid and then returns to the evaporator coil inside. The blower pushes air across the now-cool coil back through your vents inside. Back and forth, back and forth the process goes. In short, these components work to draw heat to the outside and push cool air in.

Bottom line: That’s central air in a nutshell. As with any appliance, there are bound to be complications. Rely on Texas AC & Plumbing Specialist to preserve your comfort. To make an appointment contact our team at (512) 580-7551.


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