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Understanding Your Big Bear Air Conditioner’s Basic Cycle

Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating


Most of don’t give much thought to our air conditioners – until we encounter a problem. As the temperature continues to rise, it is useful to understand the basics regarding your AC’s cooling cycle.

The better you understand the mechanics of your cooling system, the sooner you’ll be able to identify any potential problems that may appear on the horizon. If your air conditioner isn’t performing as well as it should be or if it is giving you trouble, it’s time to call in the professional services of a heating and cooling specialist in Big Bear, California.


Your HVAC System

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is the unit the warms your home in the cooler months and cools your home when temperatures rise. HVAC systems work by performing convection through water, air, or a refrigerant, and they involve four key components:

The Evaporator

In the evaporator component of your HVAC system, warm air passes through the coils where the unit’s refrigerant is housed. The refrigerant absorbs the heat that passes through and, in the process, releases and distributes cool air throughout your home.

If the evaporator is not working correctly, the system will not be able to cool the warm air. You may notice warm air coming out of your ducts or the system running for longer than it should trying to cool the air. If this happens, call for help right away.

The Compressor

The compressor works like the heart of your HVAC system’s refrigeration cycle. As such, the compressor pumps the unit’s refrigerant throughout the system as it compresses cold vapor into hot vapor and increases vapor pressure.

The compressor is another component that needs to function properly for your system to work. If not, the refrigerant won’t be able to circulate through the system and cool the air, which could again lead to warm air coming out of the vents or even a total system failure.

The Condenser

The condenser is the coil in the outer portion of your air conditioning system that dissipates the heat that passes over it by expelling the hot air. This unit can get overworked if the system isn’t functioning properly, so keep an eye for condensation or any signs of freezing.

The Metering Device

Your system’s metering device regulates the flow of refrigerant to your HVAC’s evaporator. Some units limit system pressure to avoid compressor overload and others control the pressure in the evaporator.

Your HVAC Refrigeration Cycle

The cooling generated by your HVAC system begins with the unit’s compressor, which eliminates high-temperature and high-pressure vapors through the system’s discharge line. The condenser’s fan goes on to release heat over the unit’s coil, whereby the HVAC’s high-pressure vapor is converted to a high-pressure liquid. When this liquid reaches the metering device, it’s pressure and temperature are lowered. Finally, as the vapor moves through the suction line, it is transformed back into high-pressure liquid, and the cycle continues anew.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Understanding the basics, however, can help you know when it’s time to call in a heating and cooling specialist. Attending to any problems with your HVAC system earlier rather than later can help ensure that whatever issue you’re encountering doesn’t turn into an HVAC emergency that is more costly, time-consuming, and inconvenient to repair.

Maintenance Is Key

The best way to help ensure that your HVAC system stays in excellent working order is via regularly scheduled professional maintenance. Regular maintenance comes with myriad benefits:

  • Improves your HVAC system’s performance
  • Extends your unit’s lifespan and helps minimize future repairs
  • Helps to lower your energy bills
  • Helps to ensure that your home will remain comfortable throughout the changing seasons
  • Allows your experienced HVAC specialist to troubleshoot any potential problems that could arise down the road
  • Helps improve the quality of air in your home

In fact, it is difficult to overstate the benefits associated with scheduling regular professional maintenance for your heating and cooling system.

Changing the Air Filter

While professional maintenance is important, there are also things that you can do to help keep your HVAC system up and running smoothly, and the most important of these is regularly changing the unit’s air filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If this seems too complicated or you’re not sure how to proceed, have your Big Bear HVAC specialist walk you through the process next time he or she is in your home or office for regularly scheduled maintenance. While some people wait for professional maintenance to change their filters, your maintenance schedule is not likely to coincide with the frequency of the manufacturer’s suggested schedule. Most air filters should be changed every 30 to 90 days, so consult with your heating and cooling professional to ensure that you know how to get the job done correctly.

Air Conditioning FAQs

Is my air conditioning system supposed to be making noise?

A working AC unit should not make any noise or unseemly sounds. If you notice any of these, you should call for help right away. You should also shut off your system to make sure that you don’t cause more damage.

My condenser is frozen, what do I do?

If your AC is overworking or in need of repair, the condenser could freeze and cause issues with the operation of the system. If you notice ice, water, or other issues around the system, that’s also a sign that you should call for help.

Why is my AC fan running constantly?

If your central air system is not working properly, the fan may run as a way to try to help keep things moving. Try shutting off the system and restarting it and see if that gets any results. Otherwise, call for repair service to get your system back in working order.

Can I leave my AC on all the time?

Your air conditioner needs a break. You should turn it off when the weather is cool enough. Turn up the temperature at night and when you’re not home to help it out, too. If you leave it running all the time, you’re making it work harder than it has to.

How do I size a new AC unit?

If you are investing in a new AC unit, you’ll want to have a professional on your side. They can help you size your system and determine what your home needs. If your current system is too small, that is a good starting point to choose a new one. The size of your home will also determine the unit you choose.

As Temperatures Continue to Rise, Schedule Maintenance with an Experienced Big Bear, California, HVAC Specialist

Spring is an excellent time to schedule regular maintenance for your cooling system, and the dedicated HVAC professionals at Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating in Big Bear, California, are here to help ensure that your system is working at peak performance. Keeping your air conditioning unit in excellent working order can save you time, money, and inconvenience in the long run. Finally, if you’ve got an HVAC emergency on your hands, we’re available 24/7. For more information, please contact or call us at 909-675-0983 today.

Related Content: What Happens If You Don’t Service Your Air Conditioner 

If you are looking for a Big Bear plumbing, heating & air conditioning contractor, please call (909) 584-4376 or complete our online request form.