Throughout the air conditioning system there is a small but mighty component which plays a critical role in maintaining your comfort. This component is the expansion valve. Without the expansion valve, your home would never be able to cool down during the hot summer months. Today, Absolute P&M Services would like to look into the expansion valve’s role in the cooling process, how to identify signs of failure, and why timely repairs are important.
What is the Purpose of an AC Expansion Valve?
The expansion valve, also known as the thermostatic expansion valve, is a key component of any air conditioning system. Positioned between the condenser and evaporator coils, the expansion valve’s primary function is to control the amount of refrigerant that is entering through the evaporator coil. The refrigerant, when it is in its high-pressure liquid state, comes from the condenser and enters the expansion valve. It will then reduce the refrigerant pressure before it reaches the evaporator. This reduction in pressure allows the refrigerant to expand and evaporate quickly inside the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the surrounding air, effectively cooling it. By controlling the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator, the expansion valve ensures efficiency of the air conditioner. It maintains the perfect balance needed for proper cooling while preventing potential issues like a flooded or starved evaporator coil.
How Do I Know if My Expansion Valve is Bad?
Since the expansion valve plays such an important role, when it develops problems the entire cooling systems suffers. Here are some common signs that your expansion valve might be in need of repair:
• Poor Cooling: If the expansion valve is stuck open, too much refrigerant will flow into the evaporator, resulting in improper cooling. On the other hand, if the valve is stuck closed, lack of refrigerant will cause poor if no cooling at all.
• Ice Forming on the Evaporator Coil: An overfed evaporator coil caused by a faulty expansion valve can lead to the development of ice on the coil, and in turn prevent the heat exchange process and decrease system efficiency.
• Higher Energy Bills: If your expansion valve is not working correctly, your system will need to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and higher utility bills.
• Unsteady Temperatures: If the temperatures in your home are unsteady or the air conditioner cycles on and off frequently, it might be due to a malfunctioning expansion valve.
• Air Conditioning System Short Cycling: Short cycling is when your air conditioner turns on and off rapidly without cooling your home properly. This can be a sign of a faulty expansion valve that is not controlling the refrigerant flow correctly.
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Recognizing these signs and responding promptly is essential to prevent further damages to your air conditioning system. A faulty or failing expansion valve can cause the compressor to work harder, reducing its lifespan and increasing your energy bills. In extreme cases, it can lead to compressor failure, which is an expensive repair. If you notice that your air conditioner is not running properly or you have need of quality HVAC services, contact Absolute P&M Services today.