How Your Air Conditioner Works - Part 1

Do you have an AC? Then this blog post is for you.
Air Conditioning 101.
The helpful folks here at GAMA Air want to help our friends and neighbors in the Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino are get a better grasp of what is going on under the hood in their home’s central cooling system. The more you know, the better off you are.

But don’t worry. This won’t get complicated and we won’t use all that technical jargon and mumble-jumble. And better yet, there is no test at the end! This is going to be sort of like AC for Dummies. And if a dummy can understand it, then a smart and savvy homeowner like yourself will have no problem at all grasping the important details. First on the agenda is: “Why?”. Why does an AC cool? No, that’s not what we mean. The first question is: “Why should I bother learning how my AC works? There are several reasons. But we’ll name three:

1) If you understand it better, you are going to take better care of it Some people think that regular maintenance is an unnecessary luxury. Those people don’t know how an AC works.

2) If you understand it better you will know how to get the most out of every penny you spend in energy costs. If you want to shave a good chunk off of your summer utility bills, you need to know how your air conditioning cools so you can optimize its operation.

And 3) If you understand it better, you won’t fall prey to HVAC scammers that try to pass themselves off as experienced service technicians but really just know how to say the right thing to convince you to pay them big bucks for what may or may not be your problem. For example, if a heating and air technician told you “the relay on the reversing valve is burnt out”, is that really a thing or made up? How about if he said “the polarity on the defibrillator is seized up”? When you’re done with our simple lessons, you’ll know the difference between a condenser and an evaporator; and also, whether your cooling system has a reversing valve, or a defibrillator. Like we said, “The more you know…”

Ready to get started? Here is a key to understanding how an air conditioner works: an AC does not create, or make cold air, but rather it just moves heat from the inside of your home to the outside of your home.

Think of it like your refrigerator. Is a refrigerator cold? If you open the door and reach in, sure it’s cold. But close the door and feel the outside of the refrigerator. Is it cold? Nope. It is warm, and maybe even a little hot. Why? It is just moving the heat from the inside of the fridge to the outside. So back to your AC, we are going to explain the following two aspects of an air conditioner:

1) An AC has a way to know how much heat to move out of your house, and
2) An AC has a way to move the heat to the outside.

Think of your fridge again. It is probably a combination refrigerator / freezer, right? What’s the difference between those two? Obviously, the freezer is colder. And that is because more heat is being moved out of the freezer part than from out of the fridge part. You don’t want your house to be a freezer, and you also don’t want it to be a refrigerator. You want it to be comfortable for you and your family. And how does your AC know how much heat to remove from your home? That brings us to our first AC component: The Thermostat

There’s more coming up soon so, stay tuned!

Need help with a question you have? Visit our Ask an Expert page and get a quick answer from the resident expert here at GAMA Air.

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