Air Conditioning Repair in Savannah GA
Let’s be real for a minute. Here in southern Georgia, your vehicle’s air conditioning system is a vital part of the task of driving- especially in the summer months. We all know how distracting and even deadly a hot car interior can be. At our shop we have had many customers come in with brake issues or a poorly running engine but because of budget restrictions they decided to spend their money on the A/C system instead of the more crucial mechanical repairs. Can’t say that I blame them.
The A/C system on most cars is a very simple design that has not changed much since its development in the late 1930’s. The entire systems is made up of three parts: the compressor, condenser and the evaporator, connected by conduits for the flow of a refrigerant fluid. The first two devices are located outside the cabin of your car while the evaporator creates the blast of cold air you feel when it’s working properly.
It’s a completely sealed loop filled with a fluid called Freon that undergoes zones of contraction and expansion that are able to “remove” heat from one space and deposit it in another.
The Freon is first pumped into the compressor, entering as a cool, low pressure gas that has been warmed by its trip through evaporator inside the car (more on that later). Inside the compressor, the gas is squeezed by a piston to raise its temperature and as such it is forced out of the compressor as a hot, high pressure gas.
A small metal pipe connects the compressor to the condenser with its large surface area that spreads out the hot Freon gas and allows it to radiate its energy (heat) to the outside. You can see from the diagram that the fan increases the flow of outside air moving over a set of coils so that as the Freon moves through, it has the time and space to dissipate its heat. Think blowing on hot soup before you eat it.
The Freon now flows into the Evaporator. The Freon is much cooler now, having lost much of its heat to the outside through the condenser. It has also changed from a gas to a liquid, though still under high pressure. As it enters the evaporator chamber, it does so through a very tiny hole, into an area of much lower pressure. As it experiences a sudden drop in pressure, the fluid evaporates, becoming a gas. This results in a dramatic drop in temperature. It’s the same principle your body uses to cool itself by sweating, and why you get cold when you step out of the pool or shower. The overall energy (temperature) of the fluid is reduced by a liquid turning into a gas.
The evaporator includes a fan, like the condenser, which blow air across the newly-cooled Freon in a low temperature, low pressure gas, which of course is pumped back the beginning of the loop- the condenser.
There can be snags in this system which can cause it to stop functioning properly. One of the most common is that is a low Freon level. Freon does not just go away, nor your car “burn” Freon in any way, so if it’s low, there is a leak in the system. Leaks can be hard to find so we usually refill a leaky system with Freon injected with an ultraviolet dye which is visible by blacklight. Sometimes the leaks are quickly evident, other times you need to drive the vehicle for a week or so to cycle the dye through the system so that any tiny leaks become evident.
The A/C system can also fail due to a malfunctioning compressor, a plugged orifice tube, a blockage in the piping, bad fans, and a long list of other problems. We don’t recommend you purchase the do-it-yourself Freon cans at the auto parts store because it will just leak back out again. If it’s a not a low Freon problem, you can cause more problems by adding too much freon. It is best to leave these repairs to the professionals who in the long run will save you money by pinpointing the exact problem for you.