Air conditioning is a modern convenience that we can easily take for granted as long as all the parts are working well. In every unit, no matter the size, the basic process is one of extracting heat from the conditioned space and moving it to the outside, leaving cool air in its place.
This process easily divides into indoor and outdoor components.
Air Conditioning 101
Based on the principal of thermal energy which states that heat gravitates toward cooler temperatures, compounds known as refrigerants are moved through a closed loop system, repeatedly contracting and expanding between liquid and gas forms, alternately releasing and absorbing heat along the way. The particular chemicals are selected for their abilities to transform from one state to the other at low temperatures.
While the refrigerant evaporates into a gaseous state within the looped system, it absorbs heat, removing the stale air from the space being conditioned and evacuating it to the outdoors. The warm air is pulled through ducts to meet with the cooling loop.
The cooled air is distributed through ducts or tubing and released into individual spaces. Additional ductwork is required to remove the stale air and pull it back to be reconditioned as it passes over the loop containing the refrigerant. The air is moved in both directions by a blower, usually electric and sized to handle the amount of air no matter the building.
Ductwork is also sized to handle appropriate volumes of air. To maintain efficiency, large trunks distribute along central lines to smaller ones reaching farther out. The return air is usually taken from common areas.
The grates are found in the walls, floors and often as part of the dropped ceiling. When combined with a forced air heating system, the total energy use is much more efficient.
The refrigerant is enclosed in a loop where it can expand and contract to make its transformation from gas to liquid and back again. To change into a heat-absorbing gas, it travels through the evaporating coils, an intricate series of delicate fins that meets with the ductwork to regenerate the conditioned air.
An exchange valve allows just the right amount of liquid refrigerant into the evaporator coils. If there is too much, the tube is flooded too tightly to allow expansion of the molecules and room to attract the heat. If too little, the process is inefficient.
When set up and maintained on a regular basis, the system functions with little attention and over sight. A yearly maintenance visit from your Washington DC air conditioning contractor Service Doctors should keep your AC is great condition for many years!