How air conditioning works

Air conditioning systems are complex and intricate, but a lot of people don’t truly understand how they work. Unless you have an interest in the inner workings of such technology, it’s unlikely you’ve ever given much thought to the process. The truth is, these machines can be difficult to understand. That being said, there are many things that you probably never really thought about once you were in front of your system, see more information at These are the kinds of things that air conditioning installers or repairmen will ask when they come to check on their units for maintenance or repair work.

Air conditioning works by moving heat from the inside of your house to the outside.

The basic concept of air conditioning is simple. Inside your house, it’s hot, outside your house it’s cooler. Heat naturally flows from a warmer place to a cooler place. So if you can find some way to move the heat from inside to outside (and not the other way around) then you have air conditioning!

Where does the air conditioner get heat from?

The AC unit pumps the hot air out of your house and pulls in cool air from outside. It then draws heat from the air inside your home, which is why it’s important to keep windows and doors closed. The heat it takes from your home’s air is then transferred to the refrigerant (the liquid pumped through condenser coils).

How does the air conditioner move heat from the inside of your house to the outside?

The refrigerant absorbs this heat and then flows outside. You can see the flow of refrigerant in the diagram below (the path of the refrigerant is shown by the green arrows). When it reaches the outside unit, a fan blows across it and helps dissipate this heat into free air. This whole process is repeated over and over again until your home reaches its desired temperature.

How does the air conditioner make cold air, and then move it through your house?

How does the air conditioner make cold air, and then move it through your house?

The answer is a refrigerant. The refrigerant is a fluid that absorbs heat as it’s pumped through the system, which makes it cool down. The refrigerant flows out of the indoor unit into a device called the compressor, which squeezes it until its pressure and temperature rise. Then, the hot refrigerant heads to an outdoor unit called the condenser. There, fans blow over pipes containing the warm refrigerant, making them give up their heat to your surroundings (and making you feel nice and cool). Now that this “cooled down” refrigerant has given up its heat, it’s got to go back indoors for another cycle of cooling air for your home.

How hot does it get in your attic?

If you live in a hot climate, your attic can reach a temperature as much as 20 degrees hotter than the air outside.

As you heat your home in winter, warm air rises and reaches the attic, where it stays unless you have adequate insulation to prevent its escape. Attics can become even hotter when a poorly insulated duct system, located there for efficiency reasons, leaks heated air into the space (it’s also possible for cold air to leak from poorly insulated ducts in an attic). In summer, an unventilated or poorly ventilated attic will create a greenhouse effect. The sun beats down on the roof and heats up shingles and roofing materials. Again, poor insulation allows this heat to enter the attic; since it has no place to go but down into living spaces, your house overheats like an old car with a bad radiator.

Understanding air conditioning is important when it comes to deciding whether you want to repair or replace an existing system.

Knowing how an air conditioner works will help you determine whether it’s best to repair or replace an existing one. It’s important to understand what happens when a cooling system is turned on because the air conditioner can become one of the most expensive appliances in your home—and one that you’ll use often.

According to Energy Star, most central air conditioning systems last 10-15 years, though some AC units might need to be replaced after just five years if they are not maintained properly.