What does an Air Conditioning Evaporator Do?

AC Evaporator - An Inside Look

Think of your air conditioning system as a marathon runner. Every part not only has to work perfectly in sync, but also must be in peak condition to go the distance. Just as neglecting one aspect of your body could leave our runner just short of the finish line, overlooking one part of your AC system could rob your home of cooling comfort when you need it most.

It’s a good thing to know about the entire inner-workings of your AC system, but for now we’ll focus on the AC evaporator.

What Is An AC Evaporator?

Air conditioners don’t make cold air, per se. Instead, they absorb latent heat in the surrounding air, bringing the temperature down enough to make your home more comfortable on those sweltering summer days.

Think of the evaporator, housed within the indoor portion of your split air conditioning system, as a radiator of sorts. But instead of releasing heat, the evaporator absorbs it. This lowers the temperature of the air that ultimately ends up in your indoor spaces.

It’s the direct opposite of the condenser, which you’ll find in your AC system’s outdoor cabinet. Just like the condenser, the evaporator is also lined with thin fins to further aid heat transfer.

How Does An AC Evaporator Function?

Here’s a more in-depth explanation of how the AC evaporator works under normal operation:

  • Before it enters the AC evaporator, refrigerant passes through an expansion valve. This step helps turn the refrigerant into a low-pressure fluid while, at the same time, dropping its temperature.
  • Refrigerant enters the AC evaporator as a cold, low-pressure liquid. At the same time, the blower motor is pushing indoor air through the evaporator.
  • As it travels through the evaporator, the refrigerant slowly transforms into a low-pressure gas. This phase change forces the refrigerant to soak up latent heat from the air stream, effectively making it “colder.” This process also removes excess moisture from the air, which makes it feel drier to our skin.
  • Eventually, the refrigerant exits the AC evaporator as a low-pressure vapor, carrying off the latent heat it previously captured. Next stop: compressor.

With a heat pump, this process works in reverse – instead of soaking up heat, the evaporator releases heat into your home.

What Should I Expect?

If everything runs smoothly, you should expect nothing but cold air from your AC. However, the following ac repair issues can impact just how effectively your AC evaporator functions:

  • Corrosion. The lines inside the AC evaporator can corrode over time, leading to pinhole leaks that rob your system of refrigerant and cooling performance.
  • Dirt and grime. Dirt and grime buildup can block airflow and prevent the evaporator from working efficiently.
  • Frost. Poor airflow caused by a clogged air filter or malfunctioning blower fan can encourage ice buildup on the coils. If left unchecked, your AC evaporator could find itself covered in heavy frost or ice.
  • Physical damage. It doesn’t take much force to damage the delicate evaporator fins. Any physical contact could cause damage to entire rows of fins. Bent fins reduce the amount of surface area your AC evaporator can use to absorb heat, impacting its performance.

The seasoned experts at Cool It HVAC have the experience and speed to fix your AC evaporator problem before you lose your cool. They also specialize in other types of HVAC repair, so give them a call whenever you’re having AC trouble.