June 25, 2024
HVAC maintenance in Fox Valley, WI

With spring here and summer on the way, you will be using your air conditioner. Knowing how your HVAC system works will help you keep it working efficiently. Air compressors are essential parts of air conditioners that help keep your house cool in hot weather. Here we explain how an HVAC air compressor works.

Main Components of an AC System

To understand what an air compressor is and how it works, you should be aware of some main components of your air conditioning system. The first component is an evaporator, or evaporator coil, a vital part inside your AC that cools the air. The evaporator coil is located in the inside portion of your AC system and absorbs the heat from your home and then shifts it to another part of your air conditioner, the condenser.

The condenser is the outdoor unit that releases captured heat to the outdoors. This part includes a fan and coils to cool the outside air. The condenser then sends the air back indoors through the evaporator to reduce the temperature in your home. The condenser works alongside an air compressor, a third important part of your AC and the main topic of this blog.

An HVAC air compressor is a mechanical device inside the condenser unit or the outside portion of your HVAC system. An air compressor acts as the intermediary between the evaporator and the condenser. The compressor is central to transferring heat from the indoors to the outdoors and providing cool air for your home. Air compressors have been called the heart of an HVAC system.

The expansion valve is another crucial component of your air conditioning system. This small part fits between the evaporator and condenser and is essential for helping refrigerant change from liquid to gas. The expansion valve also helps cool the refrigerant gas, working alongside the evaporator, condenser, and air compressor.

These components are all central to the cooling cycle, in which refrigerant is compressed and transformed into a hot, high-pressure liquid before being cooled and turned into a low-pressure gas that cools down rooms and lowers the temperature in your house.

How Does an HVAC Air Compressor Work?

HVAC air compressors are responsible for compressing or squeezing refrigerant gas and transferring it outside. Refrigerant is the liquid used in air conditioners to cool air and can alternate from a low-pressure liquid to a high-pressure gas.

As refrigerant goes through your HVAC system, it turns into a gas and travels through the air compressor. In turn, the air compressor relays the compressed gas to the condenser, where a condensation process occurs to release heat. An air compressor thus works alongside a condenser to remove heat from your home.

An air compressor works by squeezing or compressing refrigerant gas into a smaller volume. During this process, the gas temperature and pressure increase. An air compressor essentially changes refrigerant from a low-pressure cool liquid to a high-pressure, hot gas. This heated and pressurized gas gets shifted to the condenser where it can be released.

The compressor also works in reverse. In your AC, refrigerant gas cools and turns into a liquid. The compressor shifts it indoors to the evaporator which in turn cools the indoor air. The air compressor repeats this back-and-forth cycle to cool your home to the appropriate temperature setting. An air compressor is connected to your HVAC system through piping that enables refrigerant to circulate. Air compressors are linked to the two other vital parts of your AC, the evaporator and condenser.

However, if a compressor is not working properly, not enough air will come from the vents. A faulty compressor can also lead to warm air being circulated. At the minimum, a damaged compressor leads to lower energy efficiency and should be repaired or replaced.

Types of HVAC Compressors

Several types of compressors are used in air conditioning systems. One of the most common ones is known as a reciprocating compressor. This type is used in residential AC systems and some lighter commercial settings. Reciprocating compressors work similarly to a car engine by using a crankshaft that drives pistons located inside cylinders to compress the refrigerant gas. Reciprocating compressors are the most popular choice for homes because of their energy efficiency.

Rotary and screw compressors are two other types that are often used in residential HVAC systems. Rotary compressors rely on a revolving motion to compress refrigerant gas, while screw compressors use two screws that serve as rotors to also compress or squeeze the gas. Both types use a rotation motion to reduce the amount of volume of the gas and are used in window and central air conditioning systems.

Centrifugal compressors are mainly used in commercial air conditioning systems. This type of compressor increases the pressure through a rotating impeller blade that moves circularly to compress the refrigerant gas. This option is typically used with very large HVAC systems and would provide too much cooling power for most homes.

Our technicians can help you understand the type of compressor you have and repair it, if necessary. Our team can also help install a new air compressor to help with common air conditioning issues.

Air Conditioning and Compressor Issues

We realize that air conditioners can experience issues, including problems with compressors. Our highly trained technicians can evaluate your AC, determine the issue, and get your system working again quickly.

There are several signs to let you know if your air conditioner needs to be serviced because of the air compressor. Warm air coming out of the vents is one of the top ones, serving as an indication that your air compressor may have deteriorated. If you experience little or no AC airflow, that is also a sign that the air compressor may be damaged. Loud or strange noises coming from the outdoor condenser unit are additional common indications that the compressor may have an issue.

Other problems with HVAC systems that impact compressors include dirt that has accumulated, impeding the compressor and making it work harder. You may also experience a refrigerant leak in your AC because of a faulty air compressor. If you are experiencing any of these signs, your system should be evaluated by a professional HVAC technician.

Most air compressors last about 10 to 15 years. If yours has reached that age, it may be time to install a new one. Likewise, if you have experienced frequent AC problems or your energy bills have consistently increased in recent months, then it may be time for a new air conditioner. We can help with AC installations and make sure you get the right model for your home. Our expert technicians have the knowledge and skills to install an air conditioning unit or replace parts like the air compressor to keep your home cool and comfortable this summer.

Reliable HVAC Services

Contact us at Black-Haak for more information about air conditioning and other HVAC services. We are a family-owned and -operated heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing company that provides services to Fox Valley, WI, and the surrounding areas. Since 1956, we have provided reliable HVAC repairs, installation, and maintenance.

Call us today!

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