Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?
Excess humidity can create many problems, including mold spores, musty odors, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you hope to improve indoor air quality and home comfort.
The perfect relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the most challenging time of year to stick in this range. Luckily, running the air conditioner can help.
After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, along with suggestions to manage indoor humidity levels.
How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity
Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t put in cool, dry air in your home—it eliminates heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which soaks up heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:
- Indoor air flows through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
- The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
- The condensation flows into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
- Cool, dehumidified air flows back into your home.
Ways to Reduce Humidity
Using the air conditioner will sometimes be enough to push the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity continues to be a problem in your home, try again with these tips.
Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Detached ventilation lowers humidity at the source to keep these rooms a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s comfortable outside to allow in fresh air.
Wipe Up Standing Water
Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and can stimulate mold growth. Clean up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.
Run a Dehumidifier
If you grapple with increased humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that performs in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even run separately from the AC to lower humidity on mild days without running the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and avoids that “cool but clammy” feeling.
Flip the AC Fan to Auto
The condensation that gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you are running the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture won’t be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more effective to flip the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.
Swap Out the Air Filter Regularly
An old filter traps dust and debris and could support mold and mildew if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC is running. Replace the air filter once a month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and increase air quality.
Fine Tune the Fan Speed
Refining the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on the hottest days, but this could lead to shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you choose the ideal fan speed for your comfort needs.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your cooling is having trouble maintaining the desired temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to tune up your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying capabilities should improve as a result.
Confirm the Refrigerant Charge
Insufficient refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure might happen. Only a skilled HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as required, giving you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.
Upgrade Your Air Conditioner
If your home has consistent comfort problems and your air conditioner is getting old, it could be time to look for a new one. Select a new AC unit with modern features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the exact amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying performance.
Control Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing
If you think it’s time to get a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your air conditioning, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC services are structured to optimize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or schedule a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.
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