HVAC 101: Airflow's Effect On Compressor Longevity
An easily understood concept for most people is the car radiator. A water pump pushes water around the engine block to pick up excess heat. The water then travels to the radiator. Airflow through the radiator cools the water off and the process repeats itself.
An air conditioner does a similar
thing with refrigerant (Freon). The refrigerant picks up excess heat
from inside the house and transfers it outside. But unlike a car it
adds the additional step of boiling the liquid Freon into vapor as
it absorbs heat from the house. Then it condenses the vapor Freon
back into liquid as it rejects heat to the outdoors.
This video explains it rather nicely. The
refrigeration cycle is the
process that enables us to take heat from an 80 degree house and
transfer it to the outdoors where it's 100 degrees, something a
car's radiator could never do. In the next few
paragraphs we're going to
focus on how airflow affects this liquid to vapor process and how that
affects your compressor's longevity.
This type of damage happens more often than you might think. But few customers ever know it. The typical reaction a customer has to a prematurely failed compressor is to blame the air conditioner manufacturer. They assume that brand X makes lousy equipment. But the reality is that an extraordinarily small percentage of compressors fail because of manufacturing defects. Compressor failure is almost always due to improper installation and maintenance. In fact, there's a saying within the industry that speaks to the true cause of compressor failures: "Compressors don't die. They're murdered."
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