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What Does an Expansion Valve Do in an AC System?

Is your air conditioner blowing warm air? If you’ve started researching potential causes, you probably wonder, “What does an expansion valve do in an AC system?”

As the most trusted AC repair company in Kingwood, Texas, Crew Heating & Cooling wants homeowners to stay educated about their HVAC systems. Keep reading to discover everything you should know about your air conditioner’s expansion valve.

How the Expansion Valve Works

The expansion valve is an integral component of the refrigerant cycle, which is the method your air conditioner uses to absorb heat and transport it outside. 

During the process, refrigerant transitions between its liquid and gaseous states. As a high-pressure liquid, the refrigerant passes through the indoor portion of your system and collects the hot air. Then, the refrigerant moves through the expansion valve, which removes pressure and allows a small amount of refrigerant to pass through as a gas.

Because it can remove pressure from the refrigerant, it also cools it down significantly. With a regulated amount of refrigerant entering the indoor evaporator coil, the expansion valve makes sure the evaporator coil has enough room to release the cold air into your home.

Signs Your Expansion Valve Has Problems

How can you tell your expansion valve isn’t working as intended? Look for these most common signs. 

Blowing Warm Air

What does an expansion valve do in an AC system? It helps transport the cool air, which means a faulty expansion valve can lead to warm air coming from your air conditioner. Many problems can cause your air conditioner to blow warm air, so it’s best to call an HVAC technician to correctly diagnose and fix the issue before it becomes too severe or expensive.

Accumulating Ice

One of the most obvious signs your expansion valve is allowing too much refrigerant through is ice building up your indoor evaporator coil. The ice prevents the refrigerant from effectively exchanging the heat and forces the device to work harder.

While other problems with your air conditioner can cause ice to form on the device, the expansion valve is one of the most common beyond a dirty air filter.

Increasing Energy Bills

Almost any problem with your air conditioner can cause an increase in energy bills. While an energy-efficient air conditioner can keep those bills lower than other air conditioner models, an issue with your expansion valve erases any energy advantage of a newer model.

If you notice an increase in energy bills, especially if you haven’t increased how often you use your air conditioner or your thermostat’s settings, call an HVAC technician to diagnose the problem properly.

Leaking Refrigerant

An aging or broken expansion valve can cause refrigerant to leak from your device. While refrigerant is naturally odorless, many manufacturers infuse it with a sweet smell so you can better detect when it’s leaking. You also might notice a colorless residue on your air conditioner’s exterior.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak, never fix it yourself. Refrigerant is harmful to your health and hazardous to the environment. Only a certified HVAC technician should handle, replace, and dispose of refrigerant.

Frequent Power Issues

When your air conditioner turns on and off quickly, regardless of your temperature settings, experts call it rapid cycling. A faulty expansion valve frequently leads to rapid cycling because your air conditioner can’t regulate the temperature. 

Poor Air Flow

In addition to warm air, if you have a broken expansion valve, you might notice airflow that varies in strength from powerful to weak. If your air conditioner still blows cold air, you might think the variable airflow is just an inconvenience. However, it signifies a greater problem, so have a specialist fix it before it becomes more severe and expensive.

Concerning Noises

In general, your air conditioner should run with a consistent sound. While various sounds indicate different problems, hissing, gurgling, and whistling point to a problem with your expansion valve.

Contact Crew Heating & Cooling for Reliable Air Conditioner Help

What does an expansion valve do in an AC system? It regulates the flow and pressure of the refrigerant, which is an essential part of the cooling process. Whether your AC is not turning off or you notice concerning sounds from your HVAC system, the team at Crew Heating & Cooling is ready to assist.

With extensive knowledge, competitive pricing, and prompt and friendly service, we’re passionate about finding a solution to every HVAC problem. To schedule an appointment, call 832-345-1696 today.

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