What is a compressor and how does it cool my house?

Most homeowners who have a central air conditioning system have heard the term “compressor” being used when referring to their home cooling system. But what is a compressor, and why is it so important to keeping your home a comfortable temperature?

A compressor is at the heart of your central cooling system and is located in the outside part of your air conditioning system. The compressor pulls in cool, low-pressure refrigerant gas from the indoor part of your system (sometimes you’ll hear this called “Freon”, although the term Freon is actually a trademark for a particular brand of refrigerant gas). The compressor’s sole purpose is to “squeeze” the refrigerant to turn it into hot, high-pressure gas from the cool, low-pressure gas that it was before.

But wait… isn’t the whole point to make your house cool, not hot? Why would we want the refrigerant gas to be HOT?

This is the cool part (no pun intended)- the gas needs to be hot for it to remove the heat from your home over a few additional steps. Here’s how…

The compressor now pushes this hot gas into the finned condenser coils in the outside portion of your a/c system. Next, that big fan inside of your unit outside blows cool air over these coils and cools down hot refrigerant gas that the compressor just created. When that happens, the hot gas turns into a warm liquid. Hmm… so your refrigerant started as a cool, low-pressure gas, then was squeezed into a hot, high-pressure gas, then was cooled slightly into a warm, high-pressure liquid. What’s going on here? Let’s look further…

We’re getting closer to cooling your house now. Now, this warm, high-pressure liquid that was just created in the last step is pushed into a special valve called an expansion valve. When the refrigerant gets here, the expansion valve turns the high-pressure warm liquid in to a low-pressure, cool liquid. So, we started with a cool, low-pressure gas and we’ve ended up with a cool, low-pressure liquid. Getting interesting? We’re almost there now!

Now, this low-pressure cool liquid refrigerant is pushed to the inside of your house into your indoor unit, where there’s another finned coil called an evaporator coil. When the cool, low-pressure refrigerant liquid enters the evaporator coil, where the pressure is much lower, the liquid chemically changes back into a gas, but this process requires HEAT to turn the refrigerant liquid into a gas. Where does it get the heat from? Well, from your house! Your home’s warm air is blown over the evaporator coil by another fan inside the unit in your house. As this heat is transferred into the evaporator from your house, the air grows colder. It’s then blown out into your home as cold air and now your home grows cooler and the cycle continues all over again! Cool, right?

So hot gas becomes a cool home, all thanks to the power of your air conditioning system, the heart of which is the mighty compressor!

If your air conditioner isn’t cooling your home properly, whether that’s a major breakdown or a minor annoyance, don’t delay – give Air-Kare a call! We can diagnose and adjust your system so that your home is always optimally comfortable. Your comfort is our goal!

Call us at (504) 467-8119 or email us at scheduling@air-kare.com to schedule your appointment today!

Can switching between heat and cool ruin your air conditioner?

In Southeast Louisiana, the first few months of the new year can be difficult on your home comfort level. Daytime highs may hit near 70 degrees, humidity can rise, and the sun may shine directly on your home on a clear day, meaning you may need to turn on your air conditioner to keep your home cool and dry. At night, cool fronts can often come in unexpectedly or temperatures may drop by as much as 20 degrees, sometimes making your home too cool for comfortable sleep at night. As a result, many homeowners may begin switching back and forth, sometimes within the same day, between heating and cooling cycles on their central air conditioning system.

A question we often hear from concerned hoemowners is: will this switching back and forth damage my central air and heat system?

Though this might seem like a real possibility, we can confidently tell you to relax. In general, switching back and fourth between heating and cooling modes won’t cause any issues with your central air and heat. To be fair, it may put extra strain on your electricity and/or natural gas bill because you’ll be running your system more often, but it won’t really harm the system itself.

It is worth noting, though, that sometimes switching your system on and off too quickly can cause your system to shut off. This is called “short-cycling”, and it can cause the fuse or circuit breaker in your system to trip for the outdoor condensing unit.

This is a mistake many people make, actually. If you switch off your system and then immediately switch it back on, whatever the reason, the compressor can, sometimes, lock up due to a high pressure start up condition. When this happens, your system will draw a very high amp rate, which, of course, can cause a breaker or fuse to blow.

Now, this “short-cycling” issue is becoming more and more rare as many systems today have built-in “Anti Short-Cycle” timers, and some digital and “smart” thermostats, like the popular Nest thermostat, have built-in time delays to prevent this from happening. As a good practice, though, smart thermostat or not, you should always get in the habit of letting your thermostat sit without running for a least 5 minutes after it shuts off before you start another cycle. This will ensure you don’t accidentally trip a breaker or blow a fuse.

If your system does shut off, though, first try checking the fuses or breakers at the main electrical panel in your house. You should also check the outdoor disconnect (usually a small electrical-panel-looking box near or on your outside unit); some systems have a separate breaker outside that may need to be checked. If, after you have checked the breakers and/or fuses and determined that isn’t the issue, you should probably give us a call, as the problem may be more complex and might require expert assistance.

The good news is, no matter what, our technicians are skilled professionals you can trust. Not only have we been in business for forty years, but our techs are also given continuing education to guarantee they have the knowledge and training to provide our customers the best service available.

If your system is making you less than 100% comfortable and happy, give us a call – our goal is to make sure you are!

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Humidity can kill… your A/C

After the bone-chilling cold in January of 2018, it looks like January of 2019 may be shaping up to be warmer and wetter than usual here in Southeast Louisiana. With that, as anyone who lives here knows, comes increased moisture in the air, also known as HUMIDITY.

Humidity isn’t just something that makes us feel sticky and miserable when its warm out or popsicle-frozen when its cold, though. Humidity can actually make your heating and air conditioning system work less efficiently, especially if your system hasn’t had its annual checkup or is otherwise dirty and in need of a professional cleaning.

The truth is, your central air and heat system is designed to remove water from the air. That’s part of its job. However, when the humidity is terribly high (like it often is in these parts), many systems simply can’t cope, especially if they were never correctly adjusted for your home and usage patterns. And when humidity is too high inside, your home will feel warmer or cooler than it actually is. Not only that, but high moisture in the air can be a troublesome catalyst for the growth of nasty molds inside your ducts, where you can’t see them but they can definitely affect you and your family’s health.

So, how do you know when it may be time to call out a professional? Here are some general tips:

  • Does the air feel moist in your home? Your skin might even feel ‘clammy’ when you’re inside and papers or other documents might not feel ‘crisp’ when you handle them.
  • Do you have fogged up windows on inside-facing portion of the windows in your house? This could be a sign of excess humidity.
  • Is there a musty or moldy odor? You may already be facing a mold problem and it’s probably best to call us out right away.
  • Does it just not seem to get cold enough or warm enough in your home?

If any of these problems are plagueing you, humidity may be the culprit and that may mean your system is due for a check-up, adjustment, and or repair. Some of these issues are easy fixes and won’t break your budget, either…if you catch them early enough, that is.

So why wait? Let our helpful and friendly team schedule an appointment with you to come out to your home, diagnose the issue and get you and your family comfortable, and your home dry and healthy, once again!

Call us today at the numbers on this page, email us at scheduling@air-kare.com, or use our handy Contact Page to send an appointment request to us and we’ll be at your house sooner than you think!

PLUS, if you mention our special discount code BLOG1901 when you request or schedule your appointment, we’ll give you a special web-only discount on ANY services performed!

Don’t be uncomfortable or let a potential mold issue grow inside your home – call us today!