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AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
A/C - HEAT PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES
AIR CONDITIONER COMPONENT PARTS
AIR CONDITIONER TYPES, ENERGY SOURCES
AIR FILTER EFFICIENCY
AIR FILTERS, FIBERGLASS PARTICLES
AIR FLOW MEASUREMENT CFM
APPLIANCE DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BLOWER FAN CONTINUOUS OPERATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - Air Conditioning "How To" Books
CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
CLEANING & Legionella BACTERIA
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS
DEW POINT TABLE - CONDENSATION POINT GUIDE
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DUCTS - Asbestos
DUCT INSULATION, Asbestos Paper
DUCT INSULATION for SOUNDPROOFING
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
DUCT SYSTEM NOISES
DUCTS, Asbestos Transite Pipe
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
FAN LIMIT SWITCH
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) in buildings
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HEATING SMALL LOADS
INSPECTION CHECKLIST - OUTDOOR UNIT
INSPECTION LIMITATIONS, A/C SYSTEMS
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LOST COOLING CAPACITY
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
MOLD in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
OPERATING COST, AIR CONDITIONER
OPERATING DEFECTS, AIR CONDITIONING
REPAIR GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
REPAIR & DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for A/C
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
THERMOSTATIC EXPANSION VALVES
WATER COOLED AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL A/C SUPPORTS
This article discusses exactly how and where to measure input and output air temperatures at air conditioning equipment in order to determine whether or not it is operating properly, as part of checking basic air conditioning system operation and for detection of air conditioning operating defects. An introduction to air conditioner temperatures and some rules of thumb that are quick and easy to apply in diagnosing air conditioner problems are provided at the preceding article: AIR CONDITIONER TEMPERATURES.
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Air conditioner temperatures that are too high or too low can indicate specific operating problems on central and portable or window air conditioners. Simple measurements of air temperatures, if made at the right place, can assist in diagnosing what may be wrong and what repairs may be needed for the air conditioner. This document is a portion of our website which describes the inspection of residential air conditioning systems (A/C systems) to inform home buyers, owners, and home inspectors of common cooling system defects.
If your air conditioning or heat pump system has lost its cooling capacity or won't start see REPAIR GUIDE for AIR CONDITIONERS. See How to determine the cooling capacity of air conditioning equipment if the system seems to be working but is inadequate to cool your building. Contact us to suggest text changes and additions and, if you wish, to receive online listing and credit for that contribution.
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Theory: Refrigeration systems rely on two state changes of the refrigerant: gas to liquid, and liquid back to a gas to move sensible heat from the low side of the air conditioning system to the high side. At the evaporator coil heat (BTUs) is absorbed when the refrigerant evaporates (liquid to gas), and at the condenser coil heat is released during condensation (gas to liquid). R12 refrigerant has a boiling point of -21 degF (change of state from liquid to gas vapor) and R22 has a boiling point of -41 degF.
But if you are measuring air temperature close to the evaporator coil or condenser coil you won't record these two temperatures on your thermometer. Rather the temperature that you can record will be significantly affected by ambient conditions. For example, at the evaporator coil the temperature of indoor air entering the coil, the distance between the coil surface and the thermometer, the air velocity, and other factors will produce a temperature reading that is different from and certainly higher than the boiling point of the refrigerant entering the coil.
While we may form an opinion about just how cool the air should be right at an evaporator coil, or inside of an air handler supply plenum, most diagnostics look for temperature differences between air entering the air handler and air leaving the air handler to evaluate what's going on in the system.
NOTE: an air conditioning technician has more precise tools to evaluate the condition of a system such as gauges to measure the pressures on the high side and low side of the system and an ammeter to measure current draw of the compressor.
How to Examine Air Conditioner Temperatures
Temperature Measurements & Observations at the Room Thermostat
Air conditioner thermostat settings: observe the settings on the wall-mounted room thermostat (assuming you've already
established that the switches and controls have turned the system on and that it is in cooling mode and has
been operating for half an hour or longer.
Temperature Measurements at the Evaporator Coil in the Air Handler
How to Measure Air Conditioning Register outlet temperatures using a dial thermometer probe:
we simply wedge the probe of our dial thermometer between the
vanes of a ceiling supply register, or drop it probe-first through the slots of a cool-air supply floor register
where we leave it for at least five minutes. Sketch courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
We use tissue or toilet paper to confirm for skeptical owners that
the direction of air flow is "in" at a return register and "out" at a supply register since sometimes this
can be confusing to a novice.
Measuring Air Conditioning Duct temperatures using a dial thermometer probe: if there is not an existing duct opening such as a foil-covered hole or a removable plug, we drill a 1/4" diameter hole in the sheet metal of the duct. BE CAREFUL not to drill where you can damage a refrigerant line, coil, wire, etc. After inserting the probe into the hole for measurement, waiting, taking our measurement, we close the hole using a square of adhesive foil tape, duct tape, or snap-in plugs sold for that purpose.
Temperature Measurements at the Condensing Coil & Fan/Compressor Unit
Measuring temperatures at an Air Conditioning Compressor: By holding the thermometer's probe in any air path (and patience) it is trivial to measure ambient air temperature, air temperature flowing into the condenser unit at the condensing coils, and temperature flowing out of the condenser at its fan output (keep the probe out of the blades!)
Measuring Air Conditioning Temperatures Using an Infrared Thermometer: permits measurement of
surface temperatures such as the surface of a metal duct (is it insulated?), surfaces of
refrigerant suction and high pressure lines (do we know target temperatures?), or surfaces inside
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