July and August usually mark the hottest months of summer in the South. We graduate from a simple rise in temperature to the oppressive combination of heat AND humidity and are suddenly scrambling to find relief. The easiest escapes from the heat are our homes and businesses, which are usually filled with glorious air conditioning. Though we’re all infinitely thankful for the work that air conditioners do for us, there are many misunderstandings about how it cools our living spaces. We don’t blame you, it’s OUR job at City Heat & Air to know the mechanics of your air conditioner and what it needs to work. But today, we’re going to take you through a crash course about everything you need to know about your air conditioner and how it functions.

The Different Types of Air Conditioners

Air conditioners make up one part of your entire HVAC system, which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Within that, there are several different types of air conditioning units to choose from when considering what will best cool your home or business. Here are three of the most popular choices that you may encounter, and how they work.

Central Air Conditioning:

This is the most common form of air conditioning that exists. It works best for large homes and spaces due to its ability to broadly cool several rooms. Central air conditioners move cool air through a room via supply and return ducts. Supply and return ducts usually exist in walls or floors and carry cooled air into the home until the air is warm. Then, it will circulate the warm back through the ducts, and into your air conditioning unit.

Ductless Air Conditioners:

Ductless mini-split air conditioning systems work by using an outside unit, called a “condenser” and an inside unit, called an “evaporator” to cool individual rooms. This allows you to adjust the temperature accordingly in different rooms of your house or workspace. This is a beneficial system for saving money since you have the ability to only cool rooms that are being used.

Window Air Conditioner:

You are most likely familiar with this type of AC unit since it usually grumbles loudly outside of old dorms and hotel rooms. This unit is compact and usually only cools one particular room, making it the best choice for large complexes with lots of individual rooms. Many of these larger complexes have a window unit for each room. It works by filtering warm air out the back of the unit and pushing cold air from the front out and into an area.

How Your Air Conditioner Works

So now that you’re aware of some of the different types of air conditioning units, we can now get down to the nitty-gritty of how your air conditioner actually works. In a basic sense, an air conditioner cools a room by removing heat and humidity from pre-existing air. It pushes cooler air back into the room and then transfers the hot air back outside. Air conditioners can remove heat and humidity by using a chemical called a refrigerant and utilize three main mechanical systems: a compressor, a condenser coil, and an evaporator coil. Here is the step-by-step process of the most common central air conditioning unit working its magic.

Step 1:

The refrigerant chemical is vital to the success of any air conditioning unit, due to its unique ability to transform from liquid to gas when heat is added. Cooling, or evaporator, coils located in the unit behind the wall remove the heat and humidity from indoor air using this gas refrigerant.

Step 2:

A fan then circulates air over the evaporator, re-distributing the cold air back into a room. The thermostat then dictates how much cold air should be released into the area being cooled.

Step 3:

The compressor, located in the outdoor unit, moves the gas refrigerant away from the evaporator, where it is transformed into a liquid in the group of coils known as a condenser.

Step 4:

In the outside unit, the condenser releases the heat from the air inside, collected by the gas refrigerant, back into the outside air via a large fan. The compressor then transfers the refrigerant back to the evaporator to continue removing the heat from the indoor air.

This cycle continues until the user is satisfied with the amount of cool air permeating their home or business.

How to Keep Your AC Happy

Obviously, your air conditioning unit has quite a few moving parts, so it’s important that all these different elements must be in working order. Getting regular maintenance done on your AC unit, whatever type it might be, is not only important for your comfort but can also help with energy efficiency and saving money on your utility bills. Additionally, it can help prevent you from having to buy an entirely new air conditioning unit, which can get pretty pricey.

Regular inspection can also improve the air quality and circulation in your home, since a large portion of HVAC maintenance and inspection centers around cleaning your air ducts, and dirt and mold can easily collect in those invisible places.

What We Do at City Heat & Air

Whether you’re comfortable with your understanding of an HVAC unit, or just know your air conditioning isn’t functioning quite correctly, City Heat & Air is ready to help you with all of your heating and cooling needs. We have been diligently serving the communities of East Tennessee for over 50 years and are committed to delivering the best service possible. Whether you need an annual inspection, general maintenance, or an entirely new HVAC design specific to your space, we are the company for you! We combine top-of-the-line technology with an incredibly knowledgeable staff to give you the easiest and most efficient climate control, whether it be in your home, your business, or a new construction project.

So, if you’re looking to have all your cooling-related questions answered, visit our website or a quote today or call us at 865-938-1005.