Seems like magic, doesn’t it? You turn down the thermostat of your HVAC system, and cool air comes through the vents. But have you ever wondered exactly how all that works? At Reliable Air Conditioning, we love taking the time to help Gilbert homeowners understand their air conditioning systems better. Here are the six main parts of your AC system, as well as the most common problems with each part.

1. Refrigerant

Refrigerant is used in many applications that require temperature reduction, such as your refrigerator, vehicle AC, and home cooling system. The gas is found inside a closed loop that keeps it contained. As air passes through the refrigerant loop, the process of heat exchange occurs. The heat from the air is transferred to the coolant, and this drops the temperature of the air. The air is then distributed into your home to keep you comfortable during the summer.

Although refrigerant is in a closed-loop system, it can leak out if parts within your AC are damaged. You may notice a hissing or whistling sound coming from the outdoor unit or through the vents. You can try to refill the refrigerant, but if the leak is not repaired, you may end up spending more money on coolant and cooling costs. We recommend that you schedule a time for a Reliable Air Conditioning technician to come by and take a look at the problem.

2. Condenser Coils

Refrigerant for your AC is stored inside the evaporator coils, and the coolant chills down the coils. As air passes over the coils, the process of heat exchange transfers the heat from the air to the coils, and this reduces the temperature of the air. The refrigerant inside the coils ensures that the coils stay cold.

Refrigerant leaks typically occur in the coils or connectors. This is where the hissing or whistling originates. Replacing the coils can be tricky, so you shouldn’t try to do it on your own unless you have a good understanding of HVAC components. The coils are easy to damage, and you may end up paying for a new coil or an entirely new AC unit.

3. Compressor

As contradictory as it may sound in the cooling process, the refrigerant needs to be heated to work properly. The compressor heats the refrigerant by placing it under pressure. In order for proper cooling to happen, the refrigerant needs to be warmer than the air outdoors. This helps to facilitate the movement of heat from the air circulating through your AC system to the air outdoors.

Some of the common compressor problems that we repair are leaks, debris, and electrical problems. Leaks in the compressor produce the same sounds as those in the evaporator coils. Debris in your compressor may cause squealing or rattling, as well as overheating. Electrical problems typically cause unusual odors, system shutdowns, buzzing sounds, and other signs of trouble. If you suspect that your compressor is not working, give us a call.

4. Fan

If you have spent any time around the outdoor unit of your cooling system, you may have noticed a loud fan noise. The fan blows air across the condenser coils as part of the heat transfer.

Clanging, banging, squeaking, and squealing are all signs that your fan needs attention. Sometimes the issue is just a buildup of dust and dirt. You can turn off the system and try rinsing the unit. In most cases, though, the problem needs the expert attention of a technician from Reliable Air Conditioning. Louder noises typically mean that a blade on the fan is damaged, and it should be replaced. Ignoring signs of problems with your fan can burn out the unit and increase your utility bills.

5. Expansion Valve

The condenser cools down the refrigerant to the point that the gas is transformed into a liquid. The heat of the coolant is too high for the evaporator coils, so it needs to cool down a bit. The expansion valve works in the opposite way as the compressor. By allowing the refrigerant to expand, the valve brings down the temperature to the point where it can safely enter the coils.
We rarely see issues with the expansion valve, but they can happen. If you believe that the valve on your AC unit is malfunctioning, give us a call, and we will schedule an appointment with one of our technicians.

6. Evaporator Coils

Your AC works by removing heat from the air, and this is what happens inside the evaporator coils. The coils are made of copper tubes that hold the refrigerant in its liquid form. When air passes over the cold coils, the heat is transferred to the tubes. The fan in the air handler moves the air over the coils.

Some of the issues that we see in the evaporator coils are leaks, broken fan blades, excess dirt, and loose connections. You may notice a rattling, clanking, hissing, squealing, or high-pitched sound.

7. Ducts

The outdoor unit is the most complex part of your AC system, but the ducts are the most critical. Without ductwork, the air cannot be distributed through the vents. Ducts can be damaged, and you may notice a whistling or light banging sound.

8. Vents

Vents are the openings that allow airflow into the rooms of your home. Many homeowners want to save money on their AC bills and close some of the vents. The disruption in airflow can damage your HVAC equipment, so we do not recommend this practice. If you have areas of your home that are not used very often, we can recommend a zone system to manage airflow and your energy use.

9. Return Vent

Your heating and cooling system circulates air in your home, and the return vent is an important part of the process. Air is pulled through the vent, fed through a second series of ducts, and back to the outdoor cooling unit. Many homeowners want to cover up the unattractive vent, but you should leave an open area in front of the return vent. If the return vent is not working properly, your HVAC system works harder, and this results in more repairs and higher utility bills.

10. Thermostat

The last part of your AC system is the thermostat. For cooling, you lower the temperature on the device. It triggers the outdoor unit to start moving air until the desired temperature is reached. If you haven’t updated your thermostat in a while, Reliable Air Conditioning has models with updated features, such as smart and programmable thermostats. These units not only increase convenience, but they can also help you save money each month.

Expert AC Services

Reliable Air Conditioning offers expert installation, repair, and maintenance heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services for families in Gilbert and surrounding areas of Arizona. If you are having problems with your AC system or are ready to upgrade, give us a call! We will schedule a time for one of our technicians to come to your home.

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