Air-conditioning systems in Visual Studio .NET

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Air-conditioning systems
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There are basically two types of central airconditioning systems used in residential structures the integral system and the split system. Integral system This system, sometimes referred to as a singlepackage unit, is self-contained. That is, all the
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Table 17-1. Air conditioner capacity. Manufacturer
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General Electric Bryant Carrier Tappan Company
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Model number Btu/hour Tons
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BTB390A 567CO36RCU 38CC042-1 CM48-42C 30,000 36,000 42,000 48,000 21 2 3 31 2 4
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232 Air conditioning
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contain the refrigerant that cycles between the two units. (See FIG. 17-2.) The diameters of the two pipes are different one pipe is the size of a pencil, the other the size of a broom handle. The small pipe (pencil size) is the liquid line; it carries the high-pressure liquid refrigerant from the condenser to the expansion valve. The larger pipe (broom-handle size) is the suction line; it carries low-pressure refrigerant gas from the evaporator coil to the compressor. The suction line should be insulated. Usually it is covered with black foam-rubber type of insulation. Inspection procedure Whether the airconditioning system can be checked operationally depends on the outside air temperature. Most manufacturers do not recommend turning on the system at temperatures below 60 F because of the possibility of damage to the compressor. If the outside temperature is below 60 F during your inspec-
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tion, do not start up the air conditioner. If the system cannot be checked prior to purchasing the house, the seller should provide you with a guarantee of its operational integrity. If the temperature is above 60 F during your inspection, walk over to the compressor and have someone turn down the thermostat that controls the air conditioner so that the system will begin to operate. Compressor The compressor is the most important part of any air-conditioning system and the most costly to replace. Its projected life is about eight to ten years, although units have been known to last over fifteen years. In areas of the sunbelt with long air-conditioning seasons, the projected life will be somewhat less. After the system has been turned on, listen for any unusual sounds. The compressor should start up smoothly. A straining, grunting, groaning, or squealing noise indicates a problem condition that should be checked and
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Expansion device Outside air Condenser coils Fan High-pressure refrigerant line Fan
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Evaporator coils
Cool air
Compressor Compressor/condenser
Low-pressure Condensate refrigerant collection pan line Cooling coil/air handler
Fig. 17-2. Schematic diagram of a split air-conditioning system. The compressor-condenser is located outside the house, and the cooling coil is inside the house (usually in the furnace plenum or attic). Air-conditioning systems 233
corrected by a competent service organization. Shut the unit off and note the condition on your worksheet. Once the compressor starts up smoothly, it should then operate continuously without any noise (except a low hum) or squeaks. The compressor should not operate in short cycles (on and off repeatedly). If this occurs, there is a problem condition and the unit should be shut down. When the air-conditioning system is turned on, the fan associated with the condenser should begin to operate at the same time as the compressor. Look inside the unit to see if the fan is turning. If the interior portion is not visible and you cannot see whether the fan is operating, place your hand over the unit. Air rushing over your hand is an indication that it is operating. After the system has been operational for about fifteen minutes, the air being discharged through the condensing coil should be warm. This air is removing the heat that has been generated during the compression of the refrigerant. Air that is not warm is usually an indication that the compressor is not operating properly, a condition that should also be checked by a competent service company. After the system has been operational for about fifteen minutes, look at the low-pressure refrigerant line (the pipe about the size of a broom handle). Usually the pipe is covered with insulation. If a section of the pipe is exposed, grab it with your hand. If the compressor is working properly and there is an adequate refrigerant charge, the pipe will be quite cool to the touch. On many occasions, the pipe and end fittings will be sweating as a result of condensation. This is a normal operating condition. However, a low-pressure line covered with frost usually indicates a deficiency in refrigerant. Even though cooling can be obtained with an air-conditioning system that is deficient in refrigerant, the efficiency of the system is greatly reduced. 234 Air conditioning
Occasionally you will find a sight glass on the small-diameter refrigerant line. The sight glass is a small device installed directly into the high-pressure liquid refrigerant line that allows the homeowner to see whether there is a problem with the flow of the liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant is colorless, and if the system is operating properly, nothing unusual will be noted when looking at the sight glass. However, when the system is low in refrigerant, bubbles will show up in the liquid as it passes under the glass. Record it on your worksheet. The location of the compressor-condenser is important for efficient operation. (See FIG. 17-3.) The compressor should be located where it will receive a minimum of direct sunlight, since the cooler the air flowing across the condenser, the more efficient the cycle. See if the compressor is positioned so that the condenser air intake is at least 12 inches away from any obstruction or dense shrubbery. If it isn t, there will not be an adequate airflow for condenser cooling. The compressor-condenser can be a noisy piece of equipment and should be vibrationmounted on a concrete slab or precast concrete
Fig. 17-3. Typical compressor-condenser for a split air-conditioning system. Airflow through unit must be unobstructed.
blocks that will not settle. The unit should be level. Excessive uneven settlement can cause fractures in refrigerant-line fittings and thereby allow the refrigerant to escape. Look for an electrical disconnect switch on the exterior wall near the compressor. The purpose of this switch is to allow the maintenance man to disconnect the unit so that if someone in the house unknowingly turns the thermostat down, the unit will not be activated while he is making repairs. The absence of a disconnect switch should be recorded on your worksheet. The overall compressor-condenser unit should be checked to see whether it is in need of a cleaning. These units require periodic cleaning because leaves, seed pods, twigs, and dust tend to clog the condenser, thus restricting the airflow. The condenser has fins like an automobile radiator s, which can clog easily. The condenser discussed above is aircooled. On occasion, you might see a condenser that is water-cooled. A water-cooled unit can be located inside the structure since it does not require outside air. These condensers are generally not used for residential structures because they are quite wasteful and costly to operate. To cool the condenser adequately, cold water flows through a jacket around the coils absorbing heat and is then directed into a sink or floor drain. If the central air-conditioning system operates for twelve hours a day, this type of system can waste several thousand gallons of water a day. If you find this type of condenser in the air-conditioning system, you should consider its replacement. In large air-conditioning systems such as those found in apartment buildings, watercooled condensers are not wasteful or costly to operate because the cooling water is recirculated. After the water absorbs heat in the condenser, it is pumped up to a cooling tower, often located on the roof, where it loses its heat and is then recirculated to the condenser.
Evaporator After checking the compressor-condenser, you should inspect the evaporator unit, commonly called the cooling coil. The evaporator will usually be located in the attic or the basement. When the unit is located in the attic, you will often find the refrigerant lines from the compressor running up along the outside of the structure and entering the building at the attic level. When the evaporator coil is located in the basement, either as a separate unit or in the furnace plenum, the refrigerant lines from the compressor are short and run directly into the structure. If possible, the evaporator coil should be observed after the unit has been operational for about thirty minutes. The coil might not always be accessible because it may be covered with a sheet-metal casing that cannot be easily disassembled. If the evaporator is accessible, look at the coil and the associated refrigerant tubing. The evaporator is used to cool and dehumidify the circulating air. If you notice a frosting condition (a buildup of ice) on portions of the coil and refrigerant tubing rather than dripping water, the system is not operating properly. The frosting is usually the result of an insufficient airflow through the evaporator coil or an inadequate amount of refrigerant in the system. This condition should be indicated on your worksheet. Furnace-mounted evaporator When the house is heated by forced warm air, the most common location for the evaporator is in the furnace plenum. A furnace-mounted unit takes advantage of the ducts that have been installed for heating the house and also uses the heatingsystem blower to circulate the cool air. You can tell if the evaporator coil is located inside the furnace plenum by whether there are refrigerant lines entering the sheet-metal casing of the plenum. The refrigerant lines inside the casing are connected directly to the evaporator coil. The most common type of coil that is found in a furnace plenum is a twosection design, an A-coil (because of its shape). Air-conditioning systems 235
Sometimes an inclined or horizontal coil is used. (See FIG. 17-4.) Below the evaporator coil is a pan that collects the water condensing out of the circulating air. The water is then removed by means of a plastic drain line that will be visible when looking at the furnace plenum. Look for it. Depending on the location of the furnace, the condensate drain line will run to a nearby sink where the condensate drips down the drain or will run through the foundation wall, where the condensate drips on the outside. When the condensate drain line is extended through the foundation wall, there should be a splash plate below the end of the pipe so that the dripping water can be directed away from the foundation. Sometimes the condensate drain line runs from the furnace down to a small hole in the floor slab. The condensate trickling out of the drain line accumulates below the slab. This
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