As a homeowner, if you truly want to care for your home air conditioners, you should start by knowing a little about the components they were built with. The hot summer around the Adelaide puts a lot of demand on your home air conditioners in particular, but your furnace also works hard in cooler weather. Understanding how your system was build in regards to the component they contain will assist you to maintain it correctly and a proper maintenance will help you prevent expensive breakdowns and all that stress can cause.
HVAC is an acronym for “heating, ventilation and air conditioning.” An air conditioner and a duct system that distributes air throughout the house. These air conditioners are interconnected, and some of the same components are used by both the heating and cooling systems.
Home air conditioners condensing unit
This is the large, square component that sits outside your home. It is surrounded by thin aluminum fins and has a grate on top. Hot refrigerant gas coming from the indoor evaporator coil flows out to the compressor, a type of pump in the outdoor unit. This component increases the refrigerant’s pressure and temperature. The hot, high-pressure gas then flows to the condenser coils, which dissipates heat to the outdoor air. As the refrigerator gas cools, it turns back into a liquid.
Refrigerant lines: these pipes, typically made of copper, include a low-pressure “suction line” which returns low pressure refrigerant gas from the indoor evaporator coil (cooling coil) outlet to the outdoor compressor motor inlet.
The high pressure refrigerant line connects the compressor outlet to the outdoor condensing coil inlet (gas) and further connects the condensing coil outlet to the indoor thermal expansion valve which meters high pressure refrigerant into the “low-side” evaporator coil (cooling coil) in the air handler unit in the building
Air conditioners air ducts
Air conditioner’s air ducts are long conduits made of sheet metal, fiberglass or flex duct (plastic over a wire frame). They run through ceilings, walls, the attic, crawl space or basement and/or garage and carry warm or cool air from the furnace or air conditioner.
Because both heating and cooling systems depend heavily on the ducts, it is important to keep the ducts well sealed and insulated.
Your air conditioners vents component
The vents are the points where ducts open into individual rooms. These are usually in the walls or floors, but can occasionally be found in ceilings. Supply registers are the small rectangular vents that deliver warm or cool air.
Return vents, usually square and larger than supply registers, draw room air back into the home’s air conditioning system to be re-heated or re-cooled. Because indoor air is already close to a comfortable temperature, recirculating it is more efficient than drawing air from outdoors.
Home air conditioners thermostat operation
The thermostat controls the operation of your whole home air conditioners. Simple mechanical thermostats can be set to a particular temperature and will turn on the system as needed to maintain that particular temperature. Programmable thermostats can be programmed to maintain different temperatures for different times of the day and different days of the week automatically.
If your home air conditioners needs professional care or you would like tips on improving its efficiency, contact Rite Price Heating & Cooling for help finding a contractor in your area.
- Condensate system: water, or condensate is produced when we cool warm moist air by blowing it over the evaporator coil. The condensate runs down the coil to a collecting pan which drains to piping used to route condensate to an approved drain for disposal
- Condensate pump on some air conditioning systems a small pump is used to collect and then pump condensate up to a building drain or other location for disposal. Condensate pumps are needed for systems which cannot dispose of the condensate by simple gravity flow down a drain line.
- Condensate overflow pan or tray is a container placed below the air handler when that unit is located in an attic or in other building locations where condensate leakage or overflow would otherwise spill onto building floors or into a building ceiling. The condensate overflow pan is a safety device intended to prevent unwanted spillage; normally it does not contain condensate. The condensate overflow pan should have either an independent drain to an approved location or a float switch to shut down the air conditioner should the pan become full.
- Blower fan (evaporator fan) in a blower compartment circulates building air into itself from the return ducts and return plenum, and moves that air across the evaporator coil and onwards to the supply plenum and supply ducts in the building. Blowers may be single speed, multiple speed, or variable speed, and may need to move air at different rates if the blower is used for both heating and cooling in the same duct system. Some air blowers are also rated for continuous operation.
- Electrical controls for an air conditioning system include shut-off switch(es) for service at the unit and fuses or circuit breaker(s) at the electrical panel. The fuse or circuit breaker protects the air conditioner circuit from overheating due to an overcurrent or other electrical failure.
- Evaporator coil or Cooling coil (also called the “cooling coil” is connected to high pressure and low pressure (suction) refrigerant lines.
- The evaporator coil works with the air conditioner, but it is physically attached to the furnace. This A-shaped aluminum component sits in a metal enclosure on the top or side of the furnace or inside the air handler.
- The evaporator coil works when the air conditioning is running. Cold refrigerant from the outdoor unit enters the coil, making the entire coil cold. The blower fan pulls warm air from your home over the coil. The refrigerant inside absorbs heat as the coil condenses humidity from the air. The air, now cooler and drier, continues down the ducts and to your rooms.
- High pressure refrigerant liquid, released into the cooling coil by the thermal expansion valve changes state from a liquid to a gas, causing a drop in temperature of the refrigerant and thus cooling the evaporator coil so that when we move air across the coil the air will, in turn, be cooled.
- Return Plenum, connected to return duct system, is the air receiving compartment which provides air to the blower fan.
- Supply plenum connected to supply duct system, is the air collecting compartment to which building supply ducts are connected. Think of the return plenum and supply plenum as junction boxes to which return ducts or supply ducts respectively can be connected.
- Support system is the means by which an attic-mounted air handler is supported or held in place, for example by being suspended from the roof rafters (a quiet installation) or perhaps by being placed on supporting wood beams laid across ceiling joists.
- Thermal expansion valve: an air conditioner thermal expansion valve is a device located at the cooling coil and connected between the incoming refrigerant line and the refrigerant inlet to the cooling coil in the air handler.
- The air conditioning system thermal expansion valve or “TEV” is a metering device which regulates the flow of refrigerant from the incoming high pressure side (from the compressor/condenser) into the low pressure side (in the cooling coil).
- Air Filters located at the return duct air inlets, at one or more central return air inlets, or at the air handler unit itself are used to remove dust and debris from building air.
- Access ports to duct interior Commercial ducts and some residential duct systems may have inspection/cleaning access ports; residential HVAC ducts may have plugs indicating that the ducts have been cleaned in the past.
- Ductless air conditioning systems, which may also be called “split A/C systems” may employ one or more wall mounted cooling units such as shown at right above
- Return air ducts and registers collect warm moist air from the occupied space and return it to the air handler unit. Some air conditioning installations do not provide return air registers and ducts in every room and use one or more “central air return inlets” instead.
- Supply air ducts and supply air registers deliver cooled air to the occupied space.
- Supply registers have the dual function of spreading out and directing the air flow into a location and permitting the regulation of air flow by opening or closing the register. Some air conditioning duct systems use small-diameter, “high velocity” ducts to deliver conditioned air to the living space.
- Supply air balancing dampers, manual and motorized zone dampers may be installed inside the supply ducts at varying locations in to permit balancing the air flow among different duct sections and thus among different building areas.
- Thermostat(s) are used to turn the air conditioning on and off and to set the desired indoor temperature. One thermostat will be located in each different air conditioning zone and will control an individual air handler unit’s operation.
Your home furnace is a large appliance that turns fuel or electricity into heat. It is usually installed in the basement, attic or a closet. Gas, oil or another fuel is burned or electricity is drawn to create heat that warms the air passing through. The warm air is then blown into the duct system and out to your rooms.
Today’s high efficiency furnaces reach efficiencies of up to 98 percent. Because their exhaust fumes are cool, they need only a PVC pipe to release them outdoors. Their electronic ignition systems save fuel compared to a standing pilot light.
Home heat exchanger
Every home furnace contains a heat exchanger. This component is typically made of steel sheet metal shaped as a plate or tube. Its job is to transfer heat. When the burners ignite and burn fuel, the heat exchanger heats up. It then transfers this warmth to the air flowing through it. The heat exchanger is one of the most important components in your home heating and must be kept clean and free of cracks.