How Your AC Compressor Works

There are many different components that make up your air conditioner (AC) and each one contributes to the process of cooling your home. Your AC compressor is a part of the outdoor portion of the unit and it is essential for your system as a whole to function. If the compressor fails, your AC will not work properly.

How your compressor works:

The Basics of Air Conditioning

To understand how your AC compressor works, you first need to understand the basics of how the system functions as a whole. The unit works to keep your home at your preferred temperature by transferring heat. It does this by using refrigerant, a type of compound that transitions between a liquid and a gaseous state. By switching phases, the substance either gives off heat (gas to liquid) or absorbs heat (liquid to gas).

There are three main parts that help control when the refrigerant changes phases: the evaporator, condenser, and compressor. The first two are fairly straightforward in their function. The evaporator is inside the home and turns the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas. Since this absorbs heat, running air over the coils where the evaporation process takes place cools the air. The air conditioning system then circulates the cold air throughout your home. The hot refrigerant gas moves to the condenser in the outdoor unit. Here, it releases heat into the air outside and turns back into a liquid. It can then cycle back into the house and repeat the process.

The Role of the AC Compressor

While the compressor does not actually change the state of the refrigerant, it is a key element in the overall process. It acts as the connection between the two halves of the system. In order to return to its liquid phase, the refrigerant must release heat. To do this, it needs to be hotter than the outside air. The AC compressor is the part of the unit that heats the refrigerant up to accomplish this.

The way it works is that the gaseous refrigerant enters the compressor through a suction line. There is a piston inside this part of the unit that draws the gas in and compresses it to push the molecules closer together. This speeds the molecules up and increases the temperature of the refrigerant. The hot, pressurized gas is then able to move into the condenser to transfer heat energy into the outside air.

How to Tell If Your AC Compressor is Malfunctioning

If you are experiencing problems with your AC system, the compressor may be responsible. One common indication of a compressor malfunction is if you are not getting enough cool air inside your home. However, this can also be caused by other parts of your system, so the only way to tell for sure if you need to replace your compressor is to call a professional. Two other warning signs of a bad AC compressor are hissing sounds or loud motor-like noises. If you notice an unexpected sound from your unit, you should schedule an appointment with an AC contractor.

AC Service in Tucson

Our team at Signature Heating and Cooling can fix any problems with your AC. During a service appointment, we will thoroughly examine your unit to find the cause of any issues. We are always transparent about our recommendations and are happy to explain the details of why your unit is not functioning properly. We know that air conditioning is a necessity during hot Tucson summers, so we are available 24/7 for emergency service when you need us most.

If you are experiencing problems with your AC compressor or any other part of your system, contact us today.
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