What Are the Major Parts of an Air Conditioner?

Air Conditioner

Unless you have had to work on an air conditioner, or you just love learning, you probably do not know much about your unit. However, it’s important to know at least the major parts and what they do. This allows you to troubleshoot basic problems and know what your repair technician is talking about when you need repairs.


A major component in your system that does wear out is the compressor. This can also be referred to as the compressor motor.

As your refrigerant cycles through your system, it absorbs heat from inside your home to transfer it to the air outside. When the refrigerant gets to the condensing unit, it is not hot enough to effectively transfer that heat.

The compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant by forcing more of it into a smaller space. This causes it to condense the heat, allowing it to be more effectively transferred out.

When your compressor motor starts having a problem, you may notice it making an unusual sound. This could be a growling, screeching, or even a clanking or clattering noise. You may also notice the system tripping its circuit breaker.

Condensing Coils and Fan

Once the refrigerant goes through the compressor, it goes to the condensing coils. This is where the heat is transferred out of the refrigerant and into the air. The way it does this is by the condensing fan drawing air through the coils, then venting it out. This is why the air venting from the top of your outdoor unit is usually quite warm.

There can be a number of problems with these two. More normally, you will find a problem with the fan or the fan motor. When the motor is going bad, you may notice a rattling sound. You may also hear a squealing, pulsating, or whirring sound.

In rare extreme cases, you may notice a screaming sound coming from your condensing unit. This indicates a refrigerant leak. Shut down your system immediately and call for a repair technician.

Evaporator Coil

The primary component inside your home is the evaporator coil. This will normally be located near your air handler or furnace. As the refrigerant circulates back into your home and is cooled, it comes to these coils. Your circulating fan draws air over these coils, transferring heat from the air to the refrigerant.

These coils are notorious for collecting air contaminants that are not caught by your air filter. Because of this, it needs to be cleaned annually to ensure air can flow over them freely. However, caution should be exercised when cleaning them.

If you use a harsh chemical cleaner or too much pressure, you can easily damage the coils. This damage means a possibly dangerous refrigerant leak and extra repairs. This is normally included in professional annual maintenance.

If you do experience a refrigerant leak, you will likely hear a screaming sound as your system engages. Like outside refrigerant leaks, you should shut down your system and call for a repair. Also, open your window to allow for fresh air circulation to reduce the risk to those in your home.

Circulating Fan

Along with the evaporator coil, there is also the circulating fan inside, also known as the blower motor. This important component has two similar jobs. First, it draws air into your system and through the evaporator coils. Then, it pushes that cooler air back out into your home.

Like your evaporator coil, these also collect a lot of debris and should be cleaned during maintenance. In addition, the balance of the wheel should be checked to ensure it’s not putting strain on the motor.

Just like the condensing unit, you may notice a screeching or rattling sound when it starts to have a problem. To keep your fan motor working well, the bearing should be lubricated during regular maintenance.

Other Parts

There are many other parts you may hear a repair technician mention if you are experiencing air conditioning problems. The most common is the contactor and capacitor. These are electrical components that help your condensing unit run properly.

Inside is also the expansion valve. This component restricts the flow of refrigerant to the evaporator coils. By restricting the flow, it drops the pressure, along with the temperature. While these do wear out, it is much less frequent than many other components.

The best way to keep your system running reliably and efficiently is by performing regular preventative maintenance. B.A.C. Systems, Inc has been providing air conditioning maintenance and repair services to Farmingdale since 2004. We also offer full cooling and heating services, along with roofing, siding, and windows. Call to schedule your maintenance or repair visit today.

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