What happens if you run a central air conditioner when it's below freezing outside? Is this expected to work?
I know, it sounds crazy, but that's because you don't live in an overheated New York apartment building built in 1904 where the whole building is a single heat zone.
Our building has a big boiler in the basement that goes on for a certain number of minutes every hour, depending on the outside temperature, sending steam to every radiator in the building. In order to make sure that the coldest room in the whole building is adequately heated, that means lots of rooms are way overheated, and the temperature can reach the upper 80s (F of course).
The usual solution is to open and close windows manually. Apparently this is "by design", many of our windows actually have little panels in them you can open to get cool air. Then the temperature goes down to the lower 60s near the window, while it's still 80s elsewhere in the apartment, and it's drafty, too.
We're looking into installing thermostats on the radiators, but that is not the question.
The question is, what happens if we run the central air conditioner while it's freezing outside but over 80 inside?
The central air conditioner consists of an Aerosys THDC condenser (which is mounted through an "exterior wall" to an air shaft) connected through refrigerant lines to an indoors air-handling unit which has typical ductwork going to each room.
I don't think the people who made these condensers ever expected that they would be operating when it's well below freezing outside, so I am wondering if it should just work fine or if this is really a morbidly bad idea for some reason.
Empirically, it sort of worked for a couple of months, but when it got really cold, the condenser conked out, and now I have a repair call in to the AC company, but I don't know if that's because it was so cold outside or for some other reason.