Air Conditioner System Parts
The "Compressor" and Friends
There are a number of air conditioner parts whose functions are vital to the performance of the cooling system. Most air conditioner systems include a front cover, filter, thermostat, evaporator coils, selector switch, fan, fan motor, capacitor, compressor, condenser coils and the cabinet or shroud.
Most people will be familiar with the front cover as this is the most visible of all air conditioner parts. These are usually fastened on with a couple of screws and tend to be easy to remove when the air filter needs to be accessed for changing or cleaning.
The thermostat’s main function is the regulation of air temperature. The thermostat has a temperature sensor that reacts to the air temperature by either opening or closing the electrical circuit that controls the air conditioner. This causes the system to switch on or off according to the settings. There are two main types of thermostats: the electromechanical thermostat and the electronic thermostat. Electromechanical thermostats utilize a small glass vial of mercury and a bi-metal strip or coil that reacts to temperature changes by expanding or contracting.
The evaporator coil is the part of the air conditioner that cools the air. These coils do tend to get dirty on the inside after some years of use. You’ll know this has happened if the evaporator coil starts to freeze up and that usually means it needs to be serviced or replaced. The best thing to do in this case is to get a new one directly from the manufacturer. Unfortunately the evaporator and condenser coils are designed to work together and so if one needs replacing, so does the other.
The condenser coil is very similar to the evaporator coil; they are both made of copper or aluminum tubing with fins that lie vertically in relation to the coils. They both contain refrigerant but in the condenser coil this refrigerant is in the form of a hot gas rather than a cold vapor. If these two air conditioner parts are not cleaned regularly then accumulated dirt will affect their ability to dissipate or absorb heat.
The selector switch allows the user to choose the fan speed. While the compressor always runs at the same rate, thereby producing the same capacity of cool air, the fan speed determines how much of that cool air is circulated into the room. If this needs replacing, your best option (and in many cases the only option) is to get a replacement part from the manufacturer.
There are two fan blades in an air conditioner. The one situated in the condenser unit draws fresh air from outside and moves it over the condenser coils to collect heat from the hot refrigerant which is then released outside. The fan blade in the air handling unit draws air from inside the building and blows it over the evaporator coils so that the cold refrigerant can absorb heat from the air. This causes condensation to form on the coils which is collected in a pan at the bottom of the unit. In packaged or unit air conditioners these fan blades would simply be placed on either side of a single fan motor. Fan blades are normally fairly easy to replace but fan motors are so varied that the best place to get a replacement, as with most other air conditioner parts, is to contact the manufacturer of the cooling system in question. To keep fan motors in top condition they should be oiled at least twice every year.
Capacitors can be found in many different electronic devices and are used to store energy in the form of an electrostatic field. If the capacitor should need replacing, two important factors should be noted: the capacitance and the voltage. The air conditioner manual should contain this information, otherwise it can be found on the capacitor unit itself. The shape and size of the capacitor should also be considered for fitting purposes. It is always best to opt for the same or a very similar replacement model to ensure that it works at optimum efficiency. Every precaution should be followed when dealing with these as they can deliver a nasty shock if not fully discharged.