Kimbro Air
Kimbro Air
HendersonvilleTN 37075
 (615) 824-8098

What is the Compressor in an HVAC Unit?

What is the Compressor in an HVAC Unit?

You understand the job that air conditioners have, but have you ever thought about what's going on inside these units? Yes, they're cooling the houses. But how?

Central Air Conditioning

According to data compiled by the United States Energy Information Administration, 90 percent of new homes are built with central air conditioning. This means we can expect to see more and more air conditioning units taking up residence in our neighborhoods. Each condenser unit contains a portion of the cooling system. It houses the condenser, the compressor, and coils. But also, hidden behind the walls, ceilings, or crawl spaces, ducts distribute the cooled air throughout the structure, and a coil and fan system sends it into the living spaces. All play their part in making the home comfortable, but if the compressor stops working, you're in trouble. 

How the Compressor Cools

The gaseous refrigerant is necessary for the constant heat exchange that takes place in the coils of the indoor and outdoor units. To do this, it must be transformed from a gas to a liquid and back to a gas again.

The compressor, working in conjunction with the condenser, is responsible for circulating cooled refrigerant through our homes. The refrigerant collects the warm air from the interior of the house and transports it to the condenser unit which discharges the heat to the outdoors. But it is the compressor that cools it once again before the fans recirculate it through the house.

The compressor, working in conjunction with the condenser, is responsible for circulating cooled refrigerant through our homes. The refrigerant collects the warm air from the interior of the house and transports it to the condenser unit which discharges the heat to the outdoors.

The cycle begins when the motor-driven compressor draws in the low-pressure cool refrigerant gas from the interior of the home. Next, it squeezes it, raising its temperature and pressure before expelling it as a high-pressure hot gas. Then, the hot gas passes through a finned condenser coil to the outdoor side of the air conditioner unit where fans blow cool air over the coils until the refrigerant gas releases the heat and condenses into a liquid. Now a liquid, the refrigerant is returned to the indoor unit only to evaporate into a low-pressure gas once more so it can absorb the heat of the home and return to the compressor.

The Compressor is the Heart of the Air Conditioner

Some refer to the compressor as the heart of the AC unit; just as the heart circulates blood through our bodies, the compressor circulates the refrigerant. We can also compare the compressor to the kidneys. Blood not only transports vital oxygen and nutrients to all our systems, but it also collects waste products and takes a pass through the kidneys. The kidneys purify the blood before it returns to the heart and the cycle begins once again. The compressor also works to "purify" the coolant of heat so it can return to the indoor components to cool the house once again. But whether you consider the compressor a kidney or a heart, similar to kidney failure or heart failure, when the compressor fails to work, the system is in big trouble. 

Causes of Compressor Failure

Compressors fail for any number of reasons:

  • Like the heart, the compressor undergoes a lot of stress over the course of a summer, and so it can wear down.
  • Also, like the kidneys, grime and dust can accumulate, resulting in it becoming stuck and stopping the cooling cycle. 
  • A malfunction in the motor of the compressor can stop it from cooling.
  • A leak can develop at a connector causing loss of refrigerant.

If you hear odd sounds as your HVAC unit starts up, experience a loss of cooling, or notice a leak, its time to have it checked out by your technician. At Kimbro Air, we're here for all your heating and cooling needs. Give us a call today to schedule a maintenance appointment.

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