Central, or whole-home, air-conditioning (AC) was once a luxury. These days, it’s standard equipment on many homes. A good AC system will not only cool a home, but help control humidity as well. It’s important for homeowners to understand their AC system components, how they work, and how to make sure contractors install the correctly sized system. “An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure when it comes to AC systems. “Regular maintenance can make the system more efficient and make it last longer, keeping you comfortable for less.”
AC System Components
Your AC is part of the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system (HVAC). It is either paired with a furnace or it is part of the cooling cycle of a heat pump unit. As a matter of fact, a heat pump is simply an air-conditioner that cools in the summer but then runs in reverse in the winter, heating the home. Still, both furnace-paired and heat pump systems will have similar components. Some components are installed inside the home while others are placed outside the home.
The key ingredient in any AC system is refrigerant (more commonly known by its trade name, Freon) which is compressed by a compressor into a high pressure gas where it’s released into a closed loop of copper tubing. Refrigerant has the unique ability to absorb and release heat energy rapidly. The condenser coil and compressor are typically mounted on a pad outside the home. The evaporator and blower (also called air handler) unit are located inside the home, usually in a basement, attic, or closet. The blower, which serves both the AC and the furnace, is attached to ducts which function as pathways to move air throughout the house. The system is controlled by the thermostat.