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Serving Northern California Since 1946

Serving Northern California Since 1946


DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. Blog

Where Does Cool Air Come From?

Sometimes, encountering an air conditioning problem can lead customers down a rabbit hole where they start to understand just how complex air conditioning is. For all the new AC enthusiasts who have decided to learn more about this process, welcome! It’s not as complicated as it might seem (although the extra long Wikipedia article might make it seem otherwise).

Air conditioning surrounds two concepts: heat and lack of heat. That’s it. And when your air conditioner runs, it moves heat from where you don’t want it (inside) to where it should be (outside), leaving a distinct lack of heat inside of your home.

So for the customers with broken air conditioners that think their box fans will do the trick during the next heatwave, this is simply not the case. Keep reading, but make sure you schedule air conditioning service in Tracy, CA.

There’s No Such Thing As “Cold”

We don’t mean to get all philosophical on you, but in order for us to be on the same page, we need to talk about one major part of air conditioning–there’s no such thing as “cold!”

When something is “cold,” we’re really talking about how the air feels to us. In reality, the air is just less heated, since heat is a type of energy. An air conditioner’s main job is to remove heat, which in turn makes the ambient air feel “cooler.”

This is a huge difference between a heating system and an air conditioner. Heaters create heat (unless you’ve got a heat pump) and air conditioners simply move the heat that’s already in the atmosphere.

The Main Difference Between a Fan and an AC

So how does an air conditioner differ from a fan? You probably know inherently that it does, but you might not know the specifics, right? Well, it has to do mainly with evaporation and condensation.

Air Currents

A fan simply moves air from one place to another. That’s not bad. In fact, a fan can make a room feel a few degrees cooler because that air current helps sweat evaporate from our skin, allowing us to relieve heat and feel cooler.

But this natural process is not going to reduce the temperature by 20 degrees unless it’s an especially large fan in a cold, dark room.

Evaporation and Condensation

An air conditioner works by using evaporation and condensation, with a refrigerant that cycles between the two stages. When refrigerant evaporates, it draws in heat around it, cooling the air inside your home. Then, the gaseous refrigerant is cycled to the outdoor part of your AC, where it condenses and releases that heat into the atmosphere, being able to continue the cycle until your home’s temperature meets the demand on the thermostat.

And voila! It’s that simple. Now you know that if something doesn’t seem right, or if your air conditioner is running like a large, expensive fan, then you might need professional help. Always monitor the temperature on your thermostat and the comfort of the air coming out of your vents. If it doesn’t feel like air conditioning, then it’s likely not.

Contact DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. for help with your struggling AC.

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