Does the Air Handler Bring Air from the Outside?

February 11, 2020 11:30 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

While everyone basically understands what an air conditioner or heater does, not many people understand exactly how an HVAC system accomplishes its task. The operation of heating and cooling units is frequently a mystery to homeowners, which partially explains why so many people fail to keep up with proper maintenance of their systems—they don’t understand exactly what needs to be maintained and why.

So how exactly does an HVAC system in Fair Oaks, CA work? What does the air handler do? One common misconception is that an air conditioner brings cool air from outside into the home for distribution, but this isn’t actually how it works. Let’s take a closer look.

Air conditioner operation

While there are air conditioner designs that include components located outside the home, that does not mean the air conditioner is actually bringing in outside air. The purpose of an air conditioner is not actually to move cool air inside, but to push hot air outside.

The air conditioner removes heat from the home by transferring it outdoors via the heat pump, which is capable of operating in either direction. In the summer, you’ll primarily move thermal energy (heat) outdoors, but in the winter, you’ll want to bring it indoors. The air conditioner’s pump, called the compressor, is tasked with sucking up the warm hair in your home and pushing it outside with the help of liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant runs through a closed metal loop, and soaks up heat to transfer it.

The refrigeration cycle used in air conditioning has four basic steps:

  • The refrigerant absorbs the heat inside your home
  • Once the refrigerant has absorbed the heat, it gets hot itself
  • The refrigerant flows through the system, transferring the heat along with it outside, where it will be released into the outdoor air
  • The refrigerant gets cold after the heat is released, and gets distributed through the home through other components

When the refrigerant comes back into the home, it goes through a valve into the evaporator, which keeps the refrigerant at low pressure. When the refrigerant comes in, it expands, the process of which is what causes that refrigerant to become cold. A fan blows air onto the refrigerant, which results in cold air being blown throughout your home through your ductwork. As the cold air gets sent throughout the home, any air blown into the evaporator from your air return ducts transfers heat into the fluid, where it gets soaked into refrigerant and pumped back into the condenser, where the cycle begins all over again.

Depending on the layout of the ductwork in your home and your air conditioning needs, you may need to adjust your ductwork to ensure efficient and reliable cooling operation, but that gives you a general idea of how air conditioning is supposed to work.

So, does the air handler bring air from the outside into your home? No! For more information about what an air handler does, we encourage you to contact the trusted HVAC specialists at Cassel Air Conditioning and Heating Service in Fair Oaks, CA with any questions you have about heating and cooling.

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