How Does My Air Conditioner Operate?

How Does My Air Conditioner Operate?

Your air conditioner (AC) is crucial to maintaining a cool, comfortable indoor environment. But have you ever wondered how it’s able to cool air? In this post, we’ll explain how your cooling system operates while covering some of its components such as the compressor, condenser, evaporator coils, and more.

What are the parts of an air conditioner?

Before we tackle how your air conditioner works, let’s go over some of the components involved:


One of the most crucial parts of your AC is the refrigerant or coolant—a compound that facilitates the transfer of heat in your AC. It starts out as a low-pressure liquid, but when it absorbs heat from the AC’s surroundings, it undergoes multiple chemical changes, converting it into cool air.

Evaporator coil

Located in your air conditioner’s indoor unit, you’ll find the evaporator coil. This is the part that holds the refrigerant and is responsible for absorbing hot air and moisture from inside your home.


The compressor raises the refrigerant’s pressure and moves the refrigerant through the evaporator coils and into the condenser coils.

Condenser coil

The condenser coil is located in your AC’s outdoor unit. It draws air from the outside, which allows the hot air to be absorbed, causing the refrigerant to cool down and turn back into a liquid.

Expansion valve

Commonly called the metering device, this is an air conditioner component that controls the refrigerant’s flow into the evaporator coil. This allows the refrigerant to experience a sudden drop in pressure, causing it to rapidly expand and cool down.

Blower motor

Your AC’s blower motor draws warm air into the unit, and moves conditioned or cool air into your home.

How does my air conditioner work?

Now that you’re familiar with your AC’s key components, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how it cools your home’s indoor air:

Step 1: Warm air enters your AC

The blower draws warm air from indoors into the unit. This air passes through the AC’s filters to get rid of dust, dirt, and other pollutants. (This is why it’s crucial to switch out your HVAC filters!).

Step 2: Warm air is absorbed by the evaporator coil

The warm air moves over the evaporator coils, causing the refrigerant (still a low-pressure, cold liquid) it contains to convert into gas.

Step 3: The gas goes through the compressor.

The gas goes through the compressor, where it’s converted into a high-pressure, hot gas.

Step 4. The heat is released into the outside air.

As the high-pressure gas flows through the condenser coils in the outdoor unit. An outdoor fan blows air across the condenser coils, leading to the dissipation of heat to the outdoor air. This causes the refrigerant to cool down and convert into a liquid again.

Step 5. The refrigerant travels to the evaporator coils again.

The liquid passes through the expansion valve, where it experiences a drop in pressure, expands, and cools down.

Step 6. The cooling cycle repeats.

The liquid goes back into the evaporator coils to repeat the cycle. At the same time, the blower blows the cooled air into the room.

Schedule an AC inspection to ensure optimal performance

To make sure that your air conditioner continues to perform optimally, it’s essential to have it inspected by a reputable company like Beeson Mechanical Service. By entrusting your AC with us, you can be confident your unit will always function at full capacity. To experience the benefits of a well-maintained air conditioner, call us at 317-535-9338 and schedule an inspection today.