Most people know what an air conditioner compressor is. After all, because it sits outside, your compressor is one of your Oak Harbor home HVAC system’s most visible components. At the same time, very few people actually understand what an air conditioner compressor does. Understanding the functions of your compressor will help to shed light on the operation of your air conditioner as a whole and also make sense of any problems you may be experiencing with the compressor.

A Word on Refrigerants

The reason a compressor is needed at all is because of how an air conditioner works to cool your house. An air conditioner uses a refrigerant, most commonly a gas called R-410A, to remove heat from your home and expel it into the outside air. In order to perform this heat exchange, though, the temperature of the refrigerant has to be changed. In a closed system, the easiest way to change the temperature of a gas is to change the pressure of the gas. That’s what the compressor does.

Changing Temperatures and Forms

As its name suggests, the compressor compresses the refrigerant, which causes it to become superheated. This superheated refrigerant is hotter than the outside air surrounding the compressor and the condenser.

As the refrigerant flows through the condenser, heat flows out of the refrigerant and into the lower-temperature outside air. After flowing through the long condenser, the refrigerant loses enough heat to turn back into a liquid, meaning it’s ready to begin its return journey back inside your house.

Before the refrigerant reaches the evaporator coil, it goes through an expansion valve. Just as compressing the refrigerant increases its temperature, expanding it decreases its temperature. After the refrigerant exits the expansion valve, it’s colder than the air in your home, which allows it to absorb heat from your residence so that it can be expelled outside.

This exchange of refrigerant from inside to outside is only possible because the refrigerant is energized during its pressurization in the compressor. Thus, the compressor is responsible for heating the refrigerant to allow it to expel air and for keeping the refrigerant moving through the refrigerant circuit.

How to Protect Your Compressor

Since it’s designed for such a strenuous job, the compressors in systems sold by Island Heating & Air Conditioning are quite robust and built to last. At the same time, there are important steps you should take to help prolong the life of your compressor and other HVAC components.

As a homeowner, the best thing you can do is to provide plenty of space for your compressor to “breathe.” Though it can withstand high temperatures, if your compressor doesn’t receive adequate ventilation, it can overheat, which can cause the unit to fail. Therefore, it’s important to prevent any plants from growing in the vicinity of your compressor and condenser unit.

It’s also a good idea to clean any debris off of the exterior of the condenser so that the unit can expel heat effectively, which helps to protect the compressor from overheating. Debris can include grass clippings, trash, leaves, or just about anything else that adheres to the exterior of the compressor housing.

Maintenance Is Key

Another way to help your compressor last a long time is to have your HVAC system regularly maintained by Island Heating & Air Conditioning. One of a compressor’s greatest enemies is liquid in the refrigerant when it reaches the compressor. Normally, this condition is prevented by a special valve that’s located near that evaporator coils inside of your house. However, if this valve malfunctions, your compressor could be toast.

As part of our maintenance program, we’ll carefully check this valve, called the thermostatic expansion valve, to ensure it’s operating properly. We’ll also inspect the rest of your HVAC system’s components to ensure they’re clean and functioning well. If we spot a problem, our expert technicians are prepared to repair the issue while they’re on-site. Or, if it’s discovered that you need a new HVAC system altogether, we can help you with that as well.

Island Heating & Air Conditioning is a family-owned and -operated business proudly serving the Oak Harbor area. Our integrity and work ethic have earned us an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and countless positive online reviews. We don’t take for granted the fact that you have a choice when it comes to your HVAC needs, which is why we’ll strive to earn your business from the moment you reach out to us. If you’re having trouble with your air conditioner, contact us at Island Heating & Air Conditioning today. Our team can also assist with heating repairs, installation, and maintenance.

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May 11, 2020 12:20 am