How Air Conditioners Recirculate Air to Keep You Cool

When the weather warms up and the air conditioner comes on, there is nothing quite like the relief of cool air on a hot summer day. While a window AC unit cools one room and leaves the others warm, a central air conditioner circulates the air through the entire house using your duct system. This process allows the entire house to be cooled rather than concentrated in one area.

Whether you’re looking for air conditioning installation or air conditioning repair services, it’s important to know that a quality central air conditioner is one that performs quietly and efficiently. When it comes to routine maintenance and servicing, it helps to understand how your AC system works. Below is a guide on how your central air conditioner recirculates air into your home to provide cool, comfortable, and clean air.

Does An Air Conditioner Recirculate Air?

Yes, most air conditioners recirculate air as part of their cooling process. Air conditioners are designed to remove heat and moisture from indoor air to create a comfortable and controlled environment. They achieve this by using a refrigeration cycle.

Here’s how it generally works:

  • Air intake – The air conditioner draws warm indoor air into the unit through a vent or grille.
  • Cooling process – Inside the air conditioner, the warm air passes over evaporator coils containing a cold refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the air, causing the air temperature to drop.
  • Dehumidification – As the warm air cools down, moisture in the air condenses on the evaporator coils, leading to dehumidification.
  • Air recirculation – After cooling and dehumidification, the now cooler and drier air is then blown back into the room through another vent or grille. This process helps maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature.
  • Exhaust – At the same time, the air conditioner releases the heat absorbed from the indoor air and some waste heat generated during the cooling process to the outside through its condenser coils.

While some air conditioners may have a fresh air intake option, most residential and commercial air conditioners primarily recirculate the indoor air for energy efficiency and to maintain the desired indoor temperature more effectively. However, it’s important to ensure proper ventilation and fresh air exchange, especially when indoor air quality becomes a concern.

What Happens When an Air Conditioner Stops Recirculating Air?

When air conditioners don’t recirculate air, several consequences can arise, affecting both comfort and energy efficiency. Let’s explore some of the potential issues that might call for a professional air conditioning repair service.

  • Reduced cooling efficiency – Air conditioners are designed to cool and dehumidify indoor air. If they don’t recirculate air, they won’t effectively extract heat and moisture from the room. As a result, the cooling efficiency will decrease, and the room may remain hot and humid.
  • Uneven temperature distribution – Without proper air recirculation, the cooling effect may be concentrated near the air conditioner’s output, leading to uneven temperature distribution within the room. Some areas might feel colder, while others remain warm and uncomfortable.
  • Increased energy consumption – Air conditioners work more efficiently when recirculating indoor air since they only need to cool down the air within the room. If they constantly draw in fresh air from the outside, they have to work harder to cool that incoming air, which increases energy consumption and raises electricity bills.
  • Inefficient dehumidification – Air conditioners play a crucial role in dehumidifying indoor spaces. Without proper air recirculation, they won’t effectively remove moisture from the air, leading to higher humidity levels and a sticky, uncomfortable environment.
  • Longer cooling time – When air conditioners don’t recirculate air, they have to cool down the incoming fresh air repeatedly. This prolongs the time it takes to achieve the desired indoor temperature, leading to less efficient cooling.
  • Strain on the AC unit – Constantly bringing in hot outdoor air puts extra strain on the air conditioner’s compressor and other components. This can lead to premature wear and tear, reducing the lifespan of the unit and potentially causing breakdowns.
  • Increased noise – Air conditioners may produce more noise when operating at higher capacities due to the increased demand when cooling fresh air instead of recirculating the indoor air.
  • Difficulty maintaining set temperatures – Without proper air recirculation, the air conditioner may struggle to maintain the set temperature on the thermostat consistently.

To ensure an air conditioner functions optimally, it’s important to strike a balance between air recirculation and introducing fresh air when needed. Some modern AC units have features that automatically adjust air recirculation based on indoor air quality and temperature, providing a more efficient and comfortable cooling experience.

Enjoy Consistent & Even Cooling With a Central Air Conditioner

One of the main benefits of having a central air conditioner installed is that your entire home is cooled and provided with better, more comfortable air quality. A reliable central air conditioner is one that you don’t have to think about and one that you can feel confident will last you for many more hot summers to come.

As our Alberta summers continue to break records, get in touch with Spring’s Servicing & Heating for some of the best in air conditioning repair services, installation, and maintenance. Whatever your needs are for improving your home air quality, we’ve got you covered!