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How Does My Air Conditioner Use Refrigerant?

Most people know that an air conditioner relies on refrigerant to run. Refrigerant is a common term that applies to a number of different chemical compounds. What most people mistakenly assume is that air conditioners consume refrigerant the way a car consumes gasoline or motor oil, and that problems with low refrigerant stem from this.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Air conditioners need a set amount of refrigerant to function—the exact amount is prescribed by their make and model—and leaks or similar problems will cause that amount to lower. It still spells trouble, of course, especially in towns like Westlake, OH in the heat of summer. But understanding how to treat that trouble comes with a better understanding of how your air conditioner uses refrigerant.

Pressure and Liquid

Refrigerant works because it shifts from a liquid to a gas at a relatively low temperature, and because it has the effect of pulling heat out of the surrounding air as it does so. The air conditioning system is designed to take advantage of that phenomenon. The cycle starts with a condenser array, which takes gaseous refrigerant and shifts it to a liquid state while placing it under a great deal of pressure. The results bleed heat out into the atmosphere, which is why these components are usually located in the parts of the air conditioner outside your home.

Cooling Power Released

The liquid refrigerant, still under a great deal of pressure, then passes through an expansion valve in a set amount and into an evaporator coil. Within the coil, it shifts back into a gaseous state and pulls heat from the air in the process. The cool air is then pushed into your duct system with a powerful fan and distributed in your home. The refrigerant returns to the compressor array to start the process anew.

If your system springs a refrigerant leak, it will disrupt this process and create new problems in your air conditioner. Call Westland Heating & Air Conditioning to solve the problem right! 

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