Your home’s air conditioner is to move heat from inside your home to the outside, thereby cooling you, your home and your family. Air conditioners blow cool air into your home by pulling the heat out of that air. The air is cooled by blowing it over a set of cold pipes called an Evaporator Coil. This works just like the cooling that happens when water evaporates from your skin. The evaporator coil is filled with a special liquid called a refrigerant (Freon), which changes from a liquid to a gas as it absorbs heat from the air. The refrigerant (Freon) is pumped outside the house to another coil where it gives up its heat and changes back into a liquid. This outside coil is called the Condenser because the refrigerant (Freon) is condensing from a gas back to a fluid just like moisture on a cold window. A pump, called a compressor, is used to move the refrigerant (Freon) between the two coils and to change the pressure of the refrigerant so that the refrigerant (Freon) evaporates or condenses in the appropriate coils.
The energy to do all of this is used by the motor that runs the compressor. The entire system will normally give about three times the cooling energy that the compressor uses. This odd fact happens because the changing of refrigerant from a liquid to a gas and back again lets the system move much more energy than the compressor uses.
If the refrigerant charge on the system leaks out, it lowers the capacity of the system. You will simply get less cooling and system will not be able to keep up when the load gets high.
If you produce more heat indoors either from having more people or appliances or because of changes in the house, the air conditioning may not be able to keep up.
It’s a good idea to brush dirt and obstructions from the coils and the drains at the start of each cooling season. Depending on the system and the consumer, this may require a service call from a professional. If the system is not producing as much cold air as is normal, it could also be an indication of a refrigerant charge or airflow problems. These problems may require servicing.
– Routine maintenance such as changing filters can be handled by most consumers, but others require professional service.