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What Do the Coils in an Air Conditioning System Do?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Your air conditioner has 3 key parts: the condenser, the compressor and the evaporator. Inside the condenser and the evaporator units are coils that are important to the heat release/cooling process of your air conditioning system in St. Augustine. Both sets of coils work similarly, but each has a specific job of its own, as we’ll explain below.

What Is a Coil?

The coils in your air conditioner are copper tubing surrounded by aluminum fins. The tubing is small and narrow, and the metal fins around them act as a radiator. The job of the coils is to help with heat transfer.

How Do the Coils Work?

The purpose of both sets of coils is to assist with heat transfer, but each does it a little differently:

  • Condenser coils – the condenser coils are part of your condenser in your outdoor unit. The refrigerant flows into the coils from the compressor, where it changes states from a cool, low pressure gas to a hot, high pressure gas. As the refrigerant makes its way through the condenser coils, it loses heat. The condenser fan helps with this process by sucking the heat of the refrigerant away from the coils and blowing it into the outside air. By the time the refrigerant reaches the evaporator valve, which connects to the evaporator unit and coils, the gas has cooled but is still warm, and the pressure has dropped.
  • Evaporator coils – as the refrigerant passes through the evaporator valve, it loses more pressure and heat, and as a result, changes states once again. When it flows into the evaporator coils, it is a cool liquid. Warm air from your home is blown over the chilled coils; the refrigerant absorbs the heat, changes states, and moves into the compressor as a cool gas. The refrigeration cycle begins again.

Common Problems That Affect Coils

The most common problem to affect coils is low refrigerant. When the refrigerant level is low, the entire heat release/cooling process becomes imbalanced. Coils that are warm get too hot, and coils that are cool get too cold. Many times, this situation can result in ice formation.

A second common problem is dirt and dust accumulation on the coils. When dirt and dust accumulate on your coils over a long period of time, they can form a layer that acts as insulation; this can negatively affect how the coils release heat.

The best way to keep your coils is good shape is to schedule bi-annual maintenance. Coils are thoroughly cleaned during maintenance appointments, and refrigerant levels are checked for leaks.

Have questions about your air conditioning system in St. Augustine? Call the team of trained and certified cooling experts at Climate Masters today!

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