Your Vehicle: 2001 Ford Escort ZX2 L4-2.0L DOHC VIN 3
Vehicle » Heating and Air Conditioning » Description and Operation » General Information » Basic Principles  
  Basic Principles  

Before attempting any diagnosis or repair procedures, read and become familiar with all WARNINGS and Cautions.Please refer to: Heating and Air Conditioning; Service Precautions.
See: Service Precautions

The manual climate control system heats or cools the vehicle depending on the function selector switch position and the temperature selected.

  • The function selector switch position determines heating or cooling and air distribution.
  • The temperature control setting determines the air temperature.
  • The heater blower motor switch varies the blower motor speed.

There are four main principles involved with the basic theory of operation:

  • heat transfer
  • latent heat of vaporization
  • relative humidity
  • effects of pressure

Heat Transfer
If two substances of different temperature are placed near each other, the heat in the warmer substance will transfer to the colder substance.

Latent Heat of Vaporization
When a liquid boils (converts to gas) it absorbs heat without raising the temperature of the resulting gas. When the gas condenses (converts back to a liquid), it gives off heat without lowering the temperature of the resulting liquid.

Relative Humidity
The amount of moisture (water vapor content) that the air can hold is directly related to the air temperature. The more heat there is in the air, the more moisture the air can hold. The lower the moisture content in the air, the more comfortable you feel. Removing the moisture from the air lowers its relative humidity and improves personal comfort.

Effects of Pressure on Boiling or Condensation
As the pressure is increased on a liquid, the temperature at which the liquid boils (converts to gas) also increases. Conversely, when the pressure on a liquid is reduced, its boiling point is also reduced. When in the gas state, an increase in pressure causes an increase in temperature, while a decrease in pressure will decrease the temperature of the gas.

Clutch Cycling Orifice Tube Type Refrigerant System, Part 1

Clutch Cycling Orifice Tube Type Refrigerant System, Part 2

During stabilized conditions (air conditioning system shutdown), the refrigerant is in a vaporized state and pressures are equal throughout the system. When the A/C compressor is in operation it increases pressure on the refrigerant vapor, raising its temperature. The high-pressure and high-temperature vapor is then released into the top of the A/C condenser core.

The A/C condenser core, being close to ambient temperature, causes the refrigerant vapor to condense into a liquid when heat is removed from the refrigerant by ambient air passing over the fins and tubing. The now liquid refrigerant, still at high pressure, exits from the bottom of the A/C condenser core and enters the inlet side of the A/C evaporator core orifice.

The A/C evaporator core orifice is the restriction in the refrigerant system that creates the high pressure buildup upstream of the A/C condenser core and separates the high and low pressure sides of the A/C system. As the liquid refrigerant leaves this restriction, its pressure and boiling point are reduced.

The liquid refrigerant is now at its lowest pressure and temperature. As it passes through the A/C evaporator core, its absorbs heat from the passenger compartment airflow passing over the plate/fin sections of the A/C evaporator core. This addition of heat causes the refrigerant to boil (convert to gas). The now cooler passenger compartment air can no longer support the same humidity level of the warmer air, and this excess moisture condenses on the exterior of the evaporator coils and fins and drains outside the vehicle.

The suction accumulator/drier is designed to remove moisture from the refrigerant and to prevent any liquid refrigerant that may not have been vaporized in the evaporator core from reaching the A/C compressor. The A/C compressor is designed to pump refrigerant vapor only, as liquid refrigerant will not compress and can damage the A/C compressor.

The refrigerant cycle is now repeated with the A/C compressor again increasing the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant.

The A/C cycling switch interrupts compressor operation before the external temperature of the A/C evaporator core gets low enough to cause the condensed water vapor (excess humidity) to turn to ice. It does this by monitoring low side line pressure. It is known that a refrigerant pressure of approximately 210 kPa (30 psi ) will yield an operating temperature of 0°C (32°F) . The A/C cycling switch controls system operation in an effort to maintain this temperature. The A/C high side line pressure is also monitored so that A/C compressor operation can be interrupted if system pressure becomes too high.

The A/C compressor relief valve will open and vent refrigerant to relieve unusually high system pressure.