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!