In a hot country such as Africa, air conditioners are widely used to keep the interior of homes, offices, health and hospitality establishments cool during the summer months. By the same token, they are the appliances commonly used to warm the air on a large scale during colder weather, thereby keeping the environment at a comfortable and pleasant temperature. It is easy enough to use portable gas, fan, convection and other electrical heaters during colder weather, but cooling a room during our blistering summers is a much more complex undertaking, which is why air conditioners are so effective and popular. Like any other appliance or machinery, air conditioning units need to be serviced or maintained on a regular basis, and specialists are necessary when problems arise due to use and wear and tear.
What exactly is air conditioning?
Air conditioning itself is actually a process whereby heat (and often dust, pollens and other contaminants) is removed from the interiors of buildings and vehicles, during which the humidity of the area is reduced and a more comfortable interior environment is created. Air conditioners are wonderful appliances, being able to provide both cooled and heated air from one unit – obviously not at the same time! Their ability to automatically and continuously regulate themselves to hold a pre-determined temperature in the room or vehicle is what makes them one of our most useful conveniences. It is difficult to imagine working efficiently and productively in exceptionally hot temperatures whilst at your desk and still being able to present a professional appearance throughout the day. It is also thought by many health practitioners that air conditioners have a direct positive impact on the health of those working in a closed environment.
Where are air conditioners mounted?
Most air conditioners are permanently fixed in one place, usually high up on an interior wall where they are out of the way but controllable through remote control devices. There are also portable air conditioners for smaller areas, which, although effective, are not as efficient as the wall-mounted units. The smaller, portable air coolers have their uses but do need to be watched as most of them require fairly frequent topping up of their water tanks to ensure that they are able to cool the air effectively. The most elaborate interior climate control is run through a central system which pipes hot and cold air through ducts which are often situated in the roofs and under false ceilings in large buildings.
How complex is an air conditioning unit?
In real terms, an air conditioning unit is not a simple machine. It includes a network of piping which contains a volatile liquid coolant (a fluid which chills air passing over it), fans which draw in hot air within the area and expel it out to the exterior of the building, compressors and condensing pipes. This is a very simple way of explaining what lies hidden beneath the streamlined surface which we see in our homes, hospitals, restaurants and workplaces. It is not an appliance which we habitually give much thought to – except when it stops working efficiently and our lives are directly affected.
Let’s quickly look at how vehicle air conditioning works
Modern vehicles are nearly always equipped with air conditioners which also serve the same purpose as those in our homes and offices, but are obviously a lot smaller. The chiller (which includes an expansion valve and an evaporator) is mounted behind the dashboard of the vehicle, whilst the compressor unit and condenser (the heat dissipator elements of the unit) are positioned near the vehicle’s radiator grille. A circuit of pipes containing a high-pressure gas called a refrigerant connects all these elements together. This refrigerant is compressed into a fluid and flows through to the condenser, which removes the heat from the refrigerant and transfers it to the expansion valve, which then returns the refrigerant to its gaseous state and passes it to the receiver/drier which, in turn, removes the moisture and pushes the refrigerant to the evaporator. Finally, the evaporator pulls heat from the air passing through its core, transfers the heat into the refrigerant and results in the flow of cold air beyond the evaporator and into the body of the vehicle.
Can I fix my air conditioner myself?
The above is a very quick explanation of the intricacies of an air conditioning unit, from which it can be seen that an air conditioning unit is, on the whole, a complex and intricate device which requires regular maintenance and upkeep to keep it running smoothly. It does not matter what sort of air conditioning unit you have, and whether it is vehicular or wall mounted, it needs a specialist to keep it operating at peak performance. This is NOT a maintenance or repair task which you should attempt yourself if you are not qualified to do so. So much can go wrong – and usually does – when an amateur without specialist knowledge or sufficient experience tries to fix a complex appliance. An air conditioning repair specialist has the experience, know-how and tools to tackle any air conditioning problem. Air conditioners work in a manner rather similar to that of a refrigerator, and there is little chance of you repairing your own fridge when it goes on the fritz, so why attempt to fix problems with your air conditioner which are beyond your skill level? Call in the specialists and relax in the knowledge that the job will be done properly and safely.
To find out more about air conditioning repairs, see Uptasker’s articles and suppliers’ listings.