What does an Air Conditioning Evaporator do?

Keeping your Tampa Bay area home cool and comfortable is no easy feat, especially during the summer months. Getting to know every aspect of your air conditioning system gives you an advantage when it comes to care and upkeep.

Take your AC system’s evaporator, for instance. It’s a small part of your AC system, but it plays a big role in how it functions. Read on and learn what this component does and how it works with the rest of your AC system.

How Your Air Conditioner Works

As it turns out, air conditioners don’t “make” cold air – instead, they use refrigerant to remove heat from the surrounding air and move it outdoors. That leaves behind cool air your AC system can use to keep your home comfortable.

To make this happen, your AC system uses a pair of coils made from a combination of copper, aluminum and steel. These coils are usually stacked in an “A” frame-like arrangement, which allows air to easily pass through and condensate to drip into

Refrigerant flows through these coils at different points of the air conditioning process, allowing the unit to absorb or release heat as needed. The refrigerant itself is in various phase states, from a hot, high-pressure liquid to a warm, low-pressure gas. This also aids with absorbing and releasing heat energy.

Your Air Conditioning Evaporator’s Role

The air conditioning evaporator coil is the part that resides inside your AC system’s indoor cabinet. It’s also the part where the refrigerant absorbs latent heat. Just before entering the evaporator, the refrigerant passes through an expansion valve. This quickly turns the refrigerant into a cold, low-pressure liquid capable of absorbing heat from the passing air.

As it grabs latent heat from the air above, the refrigerant inside the evaporator warms up and evaporates into a gaseous state. Condensate also forms as a result of removing heat from the surrounding air, resulting in a liquid that drips onto a condensate pan and drains away from the AC system.

In short, the evaporator is what makes the air you eventually enjoy cool and refreshing. The warmed refrigerant eventually passes through the compressor and condenser, where it’s compressed into a hot, high-pressure version and forced to release latent heat into the outdoors.

Issues to Look Out for

Given how cold the surface of your air conditioning evaporator is compared to the surrounding air, it’s not unusual to see some slight frost buildup. However, too much frost can block your evaporator coil from absorbing heat properly, resulting in serious performance issues. Severe dust and debris buildup can also cause the same issues.

Over time, evaporator coils can also develop pinhole leaks. While these aren’t noticeable at first, they can cause problems for other AC components, including the compressor.

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