How Does a Traditional Air Conditioner Work?

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How Does a Traditional Air Conditioner Work?

In the harsh heat of summer, people across the country rely on their air conditioners to keep them cool. Even though air conditioners are fairly common today, not many people understand how they work. Here is an outline of how a traditional air conditioner works:


Your air conditioner would be completely ineffective if it wasn’t for the refrigerant. Refrigerant is a chemical that helps cool down the air inside of your air conditioning unit which is then cycled back out into your home. But how exactly does the refrigerant in the air conditioner cool down the air? Here’s how:

Evaporator Coils

When you turn on your air conditioner, the refrigerant flows through the evaporator coils. As the fans bring in warm air from your home into the evaporator, the coils begin to heat up. The refrigerant inside the coils absorbs most of the heat, allowing the air to quickly cool down. The refrigerant then begins to produce condensation as it gets hotter and turns from a liquid into a vapor. The vaporized refrigerant is then passed through the compressor as the now cool air is recirculated back into your home.

The Compressor and Condenser

The compressor compresses the vaporized refrigerant, causing its temperature and pressure to rise. This hot pressurized gas is then moved over to the condenser by fans where it turns back into a liquid as the heat is removed due to the condensation of the air. The now liquified refrigerant is then returned to the start so that it can begin the cooling process all over again.

The Moisture Trap

When it comes to maintaining a cool atmosphere in your home, the refrigerant isn’t the only component at work. Your air conditioner treats the air itself by removing excess moisture. Humidity – the amount of water vapor in the air – is a natural holder of heat. It also creates a muggy feeling in your home. In order to rid the air of the moisture, your air conditioner creates a moisture trap.

The moisture trapping process begins when the air moves across the evaporator coils. As the air cools down, the water vapor that traps the heat turns into a liquid. This liquid then runs down the coils where it is dispensed into a pan that is connected to a drainage pipe.

Your air conditioning unit is designed to keep track of how much water is in the pan. This helps prevent problems such as electrocution or short-circuiting of the unit, in the case that too much water becomes trapped in the pan due to a clog. If your unit randomly turns off or refuses to come on at all, it may be because the pan is too full of water, and the unit is doing its job to protect itself.

If any of the components of your AC aren’t working, contact the experts at Comfort Masters Heating & Air Conditioning With our vast amounts of experience, we can help you keep your air conditioning up and running all summer long.

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