The condensed, pressurized, and still usually somewhat hot liquid refrigerant is next routed through an expansion valve (often nothing more than a pinhole in the system's copper tubing) where it undergoes an abrupt reduction in pressure. That pressure reduction results in flash evaporation of a part of the liquid refrigerant, greatly lowering its temperature. The cold refrigerant is then routed through the evaporator. A fan blows the interior warm air (which is to be cooled) across the evaporator, causing the liquid part of the cold refrigerant mixture to evaporate as well, further lowering the temperature. The warm air is therefore cooled and is pumped by an exhaust fan/ blower into the room. To complete the refrigeration cycle, the refrigerant vapor is routed back into the compressor. In order for the process to have any efficiency, the cooling/evaporative portion of the system must be separated by some kind of physical barrier from the heating/condensing portion, and each portion must have its own fan to circulate its own "kind" of air (either the hot air or the cool air).

The first air conditioners and refrigerators employed toxic or flammable gases, such as ammonia, methyl chloride, or propane, that could result in fatal accidents when they leaked. Thomas Midgley, Jr. created the first non-flammable, non-toxic chlorofluorocarbon gas, Freon, in 1928. The name is a trademark name owned by DuPont for any chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), or hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant. The refrigerant names include a number indicating the molecular composition (e.g., R-11, R-12, R-22, R-134A). The blend most used in direct-expansion home and building comfort cooling is an HCFC known as chlorodifluoromethane (R-22).
7) Schedule an annual tune-up with an HVAC professional. A trained HVAC technician can detect most problems before they become major ones. With a cost of around $100 for a routine maintenance call, the benefits will likely outweigh the costs by a considerable margin. A typical tune-up will include various tests to ensure your unit’s internal parts are functioning correctly, as well as a filter check, and a refrigerant charge if needed. Your technician will likely also clear the drain, and clean your unit thoroughly inside and out.