Air Conditioner Basics

Air Conditioner Basics

Air conditioners are designed to cool homes and workplaces by removing heat and humidity from indoor spaces. They are available in different forms, including window units and split systems.

You may have learned in high school chemistry that liquids can turn into gases when heated. The same principle applies to refrigerants.

Evaporator Coil

Located in the indoor unit, the evaporator coil is responsible for absorbing heat from the air and turning it into cool, conditioned air. It works with the condenser coil in your outdoor unit to complete the air exchange process.

The evaporator coil has a series of thin metal fins that improve heat transfer and increase cooling efficiency. Over time, however, these fins Air conditioner can become clogged with dust and dirt that reduce the coil’s ability to absorb heat.

A dirty evaporator coil can also prevent the refrigerant from absorbing heat as it passes through. This limits the coil’s cooling capacity, increasing your energy consumption and carbon footprint.


The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. It transforms electrical energy into kinetic energy, then compresses and heats the gaseous refrigerant. This process is what changes it from a low-pressure liquid to a high-pressure vapor, which allows the evaporator coil and condenser fan to absorb and remove heat from your home’s air.

When a compressor is damaged or malfunctioning, it can cause several different issues with your air conditioner. If the compressor is making unusual noises such as banging or hissing, a circuit breaker is tripping frequently, or your house is only cooling to a warm temperature, this may indicate a problem with the compressor.

The compressor also requires adequate oil lubrication to function, but if this isn’t maintained on a regular basis it can lead to excessive friction and wear. Other problems that can impact your compressor include a dirty condenser coil and clogged suction lines.

Condenser Coil

A condenser coil is the unsung hero responsible for every breath of cool air you inhale throughout your home. Located in the outdoor unit of your air conditioning system, it slows down the rate at which refrigerant (a liquid cooling agent) passes in front of a fan. Once the heat has been squeezed from the refrigerant, it is cooled, returned to a liquid form and sent back to your indoor air conditioning system.

The size and shape of your air conditioner’s condenser coil have a significant impact on its energy efficiency. Larger coils can maximize heat release into the surrounding environment, helping to reduce energy costs and maintain a comfortable atmosphere for homeowners inside. On the other hand, smaller coils can limit heat transfer and may need to work harder in order to keep an AC running efficiently. This can cause damage over time and lead to reduced lifespans for the units.

Evaporator Fan

The evaporator fan, located in the air handler or furnace unit, moves cooled air through your home’s duct system to deliver it to different rooms. Disconnecting the evaporator fan disrupts this process and can lead to your evaporator coils freezing due to insufficient heat transfer.

The actual cooling of your home’s air takes place along the surface and fins of the evaporator coil. Warmer indoor air drawn through return air ducts by your AC’s blower fan passes over the evaporator coil, causing it to evaporate cold refrigerant.

When these hot water vapor molecules bump into the cold evaporator coils, they give off heat energy in the form of condensation. The condensation on the Air conditioner manufacturer coils cools and dries the air, which is then delivered to your living areas by the evaporator fan. This is why exhaust ducts and open windows must be used at all times, or the AC’s ability to cool your home will be compromised.

Drain Line

The air conditioner drain line is essential for removing the moisture that accumulates during operation. Moisture can lead to mold and mildew, which are harmful to the home environment. The line also protects the equipment from water damage that requires expensive repairs or replacements.

The air conditioning drain line is usually a PVC pipe. It is connected to the drain pan on your indoor evaporator coil unit and runs to the outside air conditioning condenser unit. The air conditioner drain line should be pitched properly so that gravity can assist in its drainage process.

If you suspect your AC drain line is clogged, a professional technician can clean it using a wet-dry vacuum or a plumber’s snake. They will also check the pitch of the line to ensure it is sloping properly, which is important for drainage. They may also use a drain line cleaning solution that is poured down the access pipe.


The filter is the first thing to catch dust and dirt before it can cause damage to other parts of your air conditioner. It is important to keep it clean because it helps to keep the air healthy for your family.

Filters come in a variety of designs. Some are made from strands of fiberglass, which can stop big debris; others look more like surgical masks, with material arranged into pleats to provide more surfaces to trap contaminants. The best filters have MERV ratings of five to 13, and can capture things as small as bacteria and viruses.

If your filter is dirty, it will cause the air conditioner to work harder, which can increase wear and tear and lead to more expensive repairs. To help avoid this, you should change the filter regularly. This can be done by checking your air vents to see if the filter is visible; you should also check less-occupied areas like the basement or attic, and even the back of a closet.

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