Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?
Excess humidity can cause many problems, including mold growth, musty odors, structural damage, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s necessary to balance humidity if you want to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.
The perfect relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is typically the most challenging time of year to stick within this range. Fortunately, turning on the air conditioner can help.
After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also reduces humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with ideas to control indoor humidity levels.
How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity
Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it removes heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which soaks up heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s how it works:
- Indoor air moves through the ductwork and all over the evaporator coil filled with cold refrigerant.
- The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
- The condensation flows into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains away.
- Cool, dehumidified air blows back into your home.
How to Decrease Humidity
Running the air conditioner may be sufficient to lower the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, try these tips.
Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Spot ventilation removes humidity at the source to keep these rooms a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to let in fresh air.
Wipe Up Standing Water
Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and can encourage mold spores. Wipe up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.
Install a Dehumidifier
If you struggle with increased humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even run independently of the AC to lower humidity on mild days without turning on the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.
Set the AC Fan to Auto
The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to build up and flow away. If you use the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow back into your home. That’s why it’s more effective to adjust the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor turns on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.
Swap Out the Air Filter Consistently
An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes support mold spores if it becomes wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC is running. Exchange the air filter once a month or as advised by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and enhance air quality.
Tweak the Fan Speed
Refining the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this might lead to shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you choose the ideal fan speed for your comfort requirements.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your air conditioner is having trouble maintaining the preferred temperature, call our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying capabilities should improve as a result.
Verify the Refrigerant Charge
A depleted supply of refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left ignored, serious issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may happen. Only a skilled HVAC technician can solve refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as needed, lending you another reason to request an AC tune-up.
Exchange Your Air Conditioner
If your home has consistent comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting older, it may be time to replace it. Pick a new AC unit with advanced features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the perfect amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to meet demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying effectiveness.
Manage Indoor Humidity with Fras-Air/General Service Experts
If you believe it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioning, Fras-Air/General Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are designed to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or request a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.