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Alexandria, VA Air Conditioning FAQ: What is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a catch-all term referring to various types of chemicals used in air conditioning systems: necessary to cool the air in your home and generally make life more comfortable. In Alexandria, VA, air conditioning is vital during the heat and humidity of summer. How, exactly, does an AC use refrigerant? Let’s take a look.

For starters, we need to understand the sorts of properties refrigerant that makes the air conditioning process possible. Refrigerants need to be able to stay liquid when very cold (much below the freezing temperature of water, for example) in order to cool the air in your home. They also need to  have a boiling point below room temperature, so it is easy to have the refrigerant return to its gaseous form. In order to understand why these characteristics are important, you need to understand the refrigerant cycle.

In basic terms, the process works like this:

  • Gaseous refrigerant enters the AC unit’s compressor, which increases the pressure and raises the gas’s temperature.
  •  The refrigerant passes through condenser coils, dissipating the heat and returning the refrigerant to a liquid state (though keeping it under high pressure).
  • The refrigerant enters an expansion valve and passes through a set of evaporator coils. It evaporates back into gaseous form and cools the air around the coils in the process.
  • A fan blows across the coils, and the refrigerant absorb the heat from the air blowing over it, creating cool air which then passes through the duct system and into your house.
  • The refrigerant gas returns to the compressor and the process repeats itself.

Theoretically, this all takes place in a closed system, which retains the refrigerant indefinitely as it cycles through the process. In reality, however, leaks are possible. A loss of refrigerant impacts your system’s efficiency and the leak will need to be located and sealed by a licensed professional. For air conditioning service in Alexandria, VA, the technicians at OASIS Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Inc. are here to help. We can recharge your refrigerant, identify and seal and leaks, and otherwise keep your system performing at its peak. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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