What Are Air Conditioning Coils?

Do you know how your air conditioner works? If the answer is no, don’t worry, you’re actually not that much different from the majority of homeowners. Most people simply know that air goes in to the system, gets cooled, and comes back out, but the process that actually cools the air is somewhat of a mystery to many people. The answer lies in two extremely important pieces of equipment: your coils. On this blog, we’ll explore what coils do, how they work, and why you need to carefully maintain them in order to make sure your air conditioner is as efficient as possible.

Two Types of Coils

There are two types of coils in a typical air conditioner: a condenser coil and evaporator coil. Both perform similar functions, but under very different conditions. In order to understand what they do, it’s important to know a little bit about how your air conditioner works.

Your A/C is essentially a giant machine that pumps a substance called “refrigerant” through a closed system. Refrigerant is a fluid that can easily be converted between a liquid and gaseous state and has tremendous heat-transfer properties, requiring very little energy to change temperatures. This makes it a remarkably effective vehicle for transporting heat from where you don’t want it (in your home) to where you do (outside). There are two primary sides to your air conditioner, and indoor and an outdoor unit, and they’re connected by a series of refrigerant lines that transport this fluid back and forth.

When most people think of the term coil, they think of metal bent into the spiral shape like the springs you’d find in your mattress. This isn’t the case with your air conditioner; it’s more of a flat panel with a copper tube that weaves back and forth. This is because you want to expose this long length of tube to as much air as possible, as it’s where the heat transfer happens.

Your evaporator coil is located in your indoor unit. It’s here that cold refrigerant flows through the coil and your blower fan pushes air from the intake vent across the coil and then back out to the rest of your home through your duct system. It’s in your evaporator coil that heat is removed from the warm air in your home, absorbed by the refrigerant, and then carried away to be expelled outside.

The condenser coil is where this expulsion of heat happens. Once the air becomes warmer after its journey through your evaporator coil, it then travels through a compressor, which condenses the refrigerant into a super-hot, high-pressure gas. The gas then travels through your outdoor condenser coil, where it is then cooled by the giant fan you see in your outdoor unit. This fan pulls air through cooling fins along the sides of your outdoor unit, runs the air over your coil, which removes heat from the refrigerant, and then blasts the heat out the top (which is why the air escaping your outdoor unit feels so hot).

Once the air leaves your condenser coil, it is significantly cooler than it was when the compressor forced it into its high-pressure state, but the pressure still remains. From there, it travels to an expansion chamber, which allows the pressure to dissipate. This process rapidly cools the refrigerant, expelling most of what heat is left, creating cold refrigerant that then flows back through your evaporator coil, starting the whole process over again.

Why Keep Your Coils Clean?

So now that you know how these coils work, you can see why it’s so incredibly important to keep your coils clean: even a thin layer of dirt or dust can function as a blanket, inhibiting the heat transfer process and reducing the efficiency needed for your air conditioner to work well. As a part of your annual maintenance service, a professional Kerrville air conditioning repair technician will get in and actually clean your coils, removing the dust from them and maximizing their ability to transfer heat. As a result, your system keeps your home at your target temperature while having to run less often, which uses less energy and saves you more money.

For more information or to receive a service quote, contact 72 Degrees Air Conditioning & Heating today! Dial (830) 302-3140.