Understanding Your Air Conditioner’s Filter Drier

Filter driers are a nearly ubiquitous component in air conditioners being manufactured today. In fact, they are so effective at prolonging the lifespan and air quality of an air conditioner that they are often retrofitted into older ACs as well. Yet many people still fail to understand the basic principles of a filter drier. If you would improve your understanding of this vital component, keep reading. This article will provide a handy introduction to the subject.

Controlling Excess Moisture

Water plays a far more negative role in air conditioning systems than most people realize--especially when it infiltrates the refrigerant inside the heart of the machine. There, it reacts with certain lubricants, forming a variety of organic acids that can hasten the wear of fragile internal components. Excess water is also bad because it provides a convenient home for dangerous bacteria, with legionella being perhaps the most scary--and potentially deadly--of them all.

The filter drier's chief task is to control excess moisture and safely remove it from your refrigerant. This task is accomplished by means of the desiccant that fills a filter drier. This desiccant may be made up of one of two materials: molecular sieve or activated alumina. Each of these substances has its own particular strengths. Molecular sieve is distinguished by its particularly high water capacity, whereas activated alumina does a better job at removing unwanted organic acids.

Removing Contaminants

Filter driers act to remove more than simply water. They are also capable of filter out a wide variety of physical contaminants, thus keeping things like dust and dirt from having a negative effect on your system's performance. There are two primary strategies for handling such contaminants: surface filtration and depth filtration.

Surface filtration is the simplest way to prevent debris from entering your system. In many cases, such systems consist of simple mesh screens installed inside key stretches of tubing. These screens work much like those used in plumbing fixtures: they present a physical barrier to contaminants, while still allowing refrigerant to flow through.

Depth filters are slightly more complex. They do not rely on a single two-dimensional filter, but rather one made up of a network of different layers. The basic idea is that a depth filter acts somewhat like a maze, with twists and turns and passageways of varying sizes. Eventually contaminants become trapped by dead ends and small openings. Unlike surface filtration, however, as more and more contaminants build up the flow of refrigerant remains unaffected, thanks to the numerous other pathways it may flow along.

For more information about these parts and AC repair, talk to a company like Pristine Air Conditioning Corp.