Why aren’t air conditioners operated when it’s cold?

The stuff that is in an air conditioner that transfers heat either into or out of the home is called the refrigerant.  The refrigerant must transform from a gas to a liquid during the operation of the system in order to do it’s job.  The compressor is designed to compress the refrigerant gases.  The problem with operating an air conditioner in cold conditions is that there is not enough heat in the home to cause the refrigerant to turn into a gas before returning to the compressor.  If the refrigerant is in a liquid state when it enters the compressor, it will cause damage.   As a generally accepted inspection practice, it is not a good idea to operate an air conditioner if the outside air temperature has not  been above 65 degrees for the preceding 24 hours.

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  • Ken Corbitt

    A heat pump is basically an air conditioner that runs one direction to heat the home, and can be reversed to cool the home. For the same reasons described in the post above, and to prevent potential damage, during a home inspection, the heat pump will be operated in only one direction – heating mode during winter, and in cooling mode during summer.

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