Learning About Furnaces

Change Your AC Filters Regularly To Protect Your Compressor From Damage

Air conditioner filters wear out after a given period. The tears that result from this deterioration usually reduce the ability of the filters to keep dirt, dust and mold particles away from the air conditioning system. This in turn affects the functioning of the air conditioning system and leads to complications such as liquid slugging. Here is what you should know about the relationship between your worn-out filters, reduced air conditioning performance and slugging-caused compressor damage.

Worn-out air filters and reduced heat-exchange rates

Since tears make an air conditioning system's filters ineffective, the amount of dust, dirt and mold particles that find their way into the air conditioning system will increase. When these unwanted particles reach the evaporator coil area, they will settle on the coils.

This continued accumulation then leads to the formation of a layer of dust and grime. And since this layer is a poor conductor of heat, its formation on the surface of the coil will reduce the heat-conducting ability of the coils' copper walls. As a result, the rate at which the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air passing over the coils will reduce.

Reduced heat exchange rates and liquid slugging

An air conditioning system cools air by taking advantage of the cooling effect produced by an evaporating refrigerant. And in order for the refrigerant to evaporate, it needs to absorb heat.

However, this is not possible in cases where the system's coils are insulated with a layer of dirt. As a result, the rate at which the liquid refrigerant evaporates will be lower. This is a problem since it increases the risks of some of the refrigerant entering the compressor area before changing into a gas.

Liquid slugging and compressor damage

The compressor in an air conditioning system is designed to compress air. This is necessary so as to facilitate the conversion of the refrigerant back into liquid form. It does this by using a system of pistons, rotary vane pumps, scroll spirals and cylinders.

Manufacturers usually rely on the heat-exchange process – that takes place in the evaporator coil area – to convert the liquid refrigerant to a gas. Therefore, when designing the compressor, they only use motors and parts that can handle air and not a liquid. So when some of the refrigerant fails to change into a gas because of the reduced heat exchange rates in the evaporator coil, these parts are forced to try to compress a liquid. And since they are not built for this, they end up getting damaged.

Changing your filters to avoid compressor damage

To protect your compressor from liquid-caused damage, you need to ensure that the heat-exchange process in the evaporator coil is as efficient as possible. An easy way of ensuring this, is by regularly changing your air conditioner's air filters. This is because doing this at least once after every three months will eliminate the risks of dirt-caused insulation. It will ensure that the refrigerant absorbs heat as efficiently as possible, something that will then ensure that all the refrigerant in the evaporator coil evaporates. It will therefore eliminate any risks of slugging-caused compressor damage, something that will increase the lifespan of your air conditioning system.

For more help, talk with your air conditioning repair technician today.


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