Understanding Your Air Conditioner: 17 Common Cooling Terms Defined

Summer is in full swing in Northeastern Ohio and that means air conditioners are running full time. As the temperatures increase, so do the amount of air conditioner service and repair calls we receive here at Blind and Sons.

If you’ve ever had to deal with a/c problems, you know that there are a lot of technical terms related to your air conditioner.

Talking to your air conditioner technician can be confusing.

So we’ve compiled a list of common air conditioning terms and their definitions so the next time you have a question about your air conditioner, you’ll have just the word to use.

Keep in mind that any reputable cooling company or technician will take the time to answer all of your questions before repairing or replacing your air conditioner.

Air Cleaner- a piece of machinery that removes unwanted particles and pollutants from your air. Some air cleaners can be added to your HVAC system and can improve the quality of air that you breathe by removing pollen, allergens, bacteria, dust, pet dander and other particles.

Air flow volume- is the amount of air your system circulates through your home. Correct air flow depends on the indoor unit, ductwork, outdoor unit and even if your air filter is clean. The average air conditioner is built to move approximately 400 cubic feet of air per minute.

Air Handler- the portion of your central air conditioning or heat pump system that moves air throughout your home’s ductwork.

Capacity- the ability of a heating or cooling system to cool or heat a given space, for cooling it is often measured in Tons.

CFM- the standard airflow measurement stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. 400 CFM is standard for most air conditioners.

Charge- adding refrigerant to a system.

Compressor- is the outdoor unit that pumps refrigerant from the indoor evaporator to the outdoor condenser and back again. Your system’s compressor must maintain adequate pressure to pump the right amount of refrigerant to properly cool your home.

Condenser Coil- a series or network of tubes filled with refrigerant, normally contained in your outdoor unit, the condenser coil removes the heat from the refrigerant.

Condenser Fan- a fan that distributes air over the aircooled condenser.

Cycling- is the process of your system turning off and on. The less your system must cycle off and on to cool your home the more efficient.

Damper- found in your ductwork, the damper is a moveable plate that opens and closes to control the airflow. Dampers can be used to balance the airflow in a duct system.

Defrost- the process of removing ice or frost buildup from your outdoor coil.

Dehumidifier- an air cooler that removes moisture from the air. The dehumidifier reduces water vapor in the air by cooling it below the dew point.

Ductwork- your ductwork consists of the pipes that move conditioned air throughout your home.

Evaporator Coil (Indoor Coil)- the other half of an air conditioning system located indoors. The evaporator coil takes heat and moisture out of the indoor air as liquid refrigerant evaporates.

Heat Pump- a heat pump is a piece of HVAC equipment that can warm your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Heat pumps are most useful in mild climates.

SEER- stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER of an air conditioner or heat pump is its cooling efficiency. The higher the SEER rating of an air conditioner or heat pump, the more efficient it is at cooling.

To learn more about common air conditioning terminology or your air conditioner, visit our online glossary of HVAC terms or visit our blog. If you live in our Northeastern Ohio service area and need air conditioner maintenance or repair please give Blind and Sons a call or schedule online here.

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