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Given the heat that is synonymous with Florida’s climate, the air conditioner (AC) is no stranger to the Floridian home. In fact, it is most likely one of the most treasured possessions. Yet most people don’t understand how their AC works, and how to identify when there could be a potential problem. An air conditioning technician from Art Plumbing, AC & Electric shares insight on how the coils on a AC unit work, and signs of a potential problem.
What Is An AC Coil?
Your AC is a designed system that uses a refrigerant (or coolant) to absorb heat from the air, and then carry and release the warm air outdoors. The refrigerant continues this cycle until enough heat is removed from your home so that the indoor air temperature reaches the temperature selected on the thermostat. The evaporator and condenser coils work together to keep the cooling cycle running smoothly.
- Evaporator Coil
The evaporator coil, also known as the evaporator core, plays the role of absorbing the heat and ultimately ‘creating’ the cold air. Evaporator coils are made from copper, steel or aluminum – all of which conduct heat easily – and appear as U-shaped tubes near the air handler of the AC.
These panels of tubes are lined with fins, thin pieces of metal that bring the passing air closer to the coils. A combination of compressors, low-pressure liquid refrigerant and valves allows the evaporator coil to work effectively with optimum energy efficiency.
- Condenser Coil
The condenser coil works alongside the evaporator coil to cool the home. The condenser coil is located in the large square unit that sits outside of the home, hence the common reference as the ‘condenser unit’. The unit contains multiple components such as condenser tubs and fins, the compressor, a fan, copper tubing, valves and switches.
Once the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the home with the help of the evaporator coil, the air travels outside through a copper tube into the condenser unit. It enters the compressor where it is put under pressure and transformed into a hot, high-pressure gas. The fan blows over the condenser coils so that the inside refrigerant loses heat, allowing the AC enough time to release the heat from the home.
The heating and cooling continues as the refrigerant changes from a hot gas into a hot liquid and flows back through a copper tube, into the home and into the expansion valve which is located near the evaporator coil.
Signs That Your AC Coil Has A Problem
In order for the evaporator and condenser coils to work effectively, they need to be kept clean at all times to maintain effective air flow. Failing to look after your AC system can result in ineffective heat absorption and cooling capacity, higher energy use, and higher pressures and temperatures.
There are some obvious signs that should raise suspicion that your AC either has a problem – or could have one soon.
- Warm air begins to flow from your AC vents when your thermostat is set for cooler temperatures.
- A water leak appears near your unit. This could indicate that the evaporator coil is failing.
- Decreased energy efficiency is a sure sign that either the condenser coil is damaged, or there is a build-up of dirt in the coils.
- There is a build-up of debris, such as hedge clippings or fallen leaves, on the fins of the condenser unit.
Routine AC maintenance is one of the easiest ways to prevent a large problem from developing. Maintenance will keep your evaporator and condenser coils, along with the rest of your AC system, running smoothly – so that you can stay cool every day. If you are already experiencing a problem with your AC, call a professional for an emergency AC repair so that you don’t need to withstand Florida’s heat unnecessarily.