The Purpose And Functioning Of Air Conditioner Refrigerant Lines

When it comes to their home's air conditioner, many people fail to understand the variety of different HVAC components required for smooth and proper functioning. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding often leads to the development of costly problems down the line. If you would like to boost your understanding of AC systems, read on. This article will introduce you to the role played by the refrigerant lines.


Put at its simplest, the function of the refrigerant lines is to help the refrigerant get from one part of the system to another. This is no small feat, when considering the sometimes large distances that must be covered in getting from the outdoor condenser unit to the indoor evaporator coil. In order to traverse such spaces reliably, refrigerant lines are generally constructed out of copper. The diameter of a given stretch of refrigerant line depends on which direction it is shuttling the refrigerant; in both cases, the lines are quite narrow.

Refrigerant Movement

To understand why different refrigerant lines are different sizes, it helps to consider the state of refrigerant at any given position. The refrigerant flowing from condenser to evaporator is in a liquid state. These lines tend to be much narrower; this it to ensure an optimum velocity as the refrigerant flows into the evaporator. There it quickly expands, turning into a gas, while also absorbing heat from the air of your home.

The warmed gaseous refrigerant then must travel back to the compressor unit through yet more refrigerant lines. These lines tend to be somewhat wider. Not only are they responsible for transporting the gaseous refrigerant, but they also carry oil that is used to lubricate both the condenser and the compressor. These refrigerant lines tend to be angled downward in order to facilitate the speedy flow of refrigerant and oil.


As you can imagine, the single greatest threat to a refrigerant line are holes. If refrigerant is permitted to begin leaking from the system, its effectiveness will gradually grow less and less. Ultimately, a leaking refrigerant line will compromise the air conditioner's ability to cool your home at all.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to locate refrigerant line leaks. Not only are such holes generally quite small--no larger than a pin prick--but the refrigerant lines are often tucked away inside of walls and in other places with difficult access. On top of this, the refrigerant itself will quickly turn to gas on escaping. Therefore, it takes a highly experienced HVAC maintenance technician to locate and repair refrigerant leaks. This task is often accomplished using such diagnostic tools as halide torches, electronic detectors, and special fluorescent fluids.