Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?
Excess humidity can cause many problems, like mold growth, musty smells, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to manage humidity if you hope to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.
The recommended relative humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the most challenging time of year to stay within this range. Fortunately, running the air conditioner can help.
After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s details of how this works, coupled with suggestions to adjust indoor humidity levels.
How Air Conditioning Eliminates Humidity
Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t put in cool, dry air in your home—it takes out heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which absorbs heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s how it works:
- Indoor air flows through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
- The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
- The condensation falls into the condensate pan under the evaporator coil and drains away.
- Cooler, dehumidified air flows into your home.
How to Lower Humidity
Running the air conditioner will sometimes be sufficient to push the relative humidity under 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 eliminates humidity at the source to keep these rooms more comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s mild outside to let in fresh air.
Wipe Up Standing Water
Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and could encourage mold growth. Clean up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.
Use a Dehumidifier
If you struggle with high humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even operate independently of the AC to remove humidity on more temperate days without turning on the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and prevents that “cool but clammy” feeling.
Flip the AC Fan to Auto
The condensation that gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and drip away. If you run the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture won’t be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to adjust the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.
Replace the Air Filter Regularly
An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC turns on. Change the air filter each month or as recommended by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and increase air quality.
Adjust the Fan Speed
Refining the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on the hottest days, but this can result in shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you determine the ideal fan speed for your comfort needs.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify effectively. If your cooling is having trouble maintaining the set temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to maintain your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.
Confirm the Refrigerant Charge
Low refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left ignored, serious issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure can occur. Only a skilled HVAC technician can solve refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as required, offering you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.
Replace Your Air Conditioner
If your home has continuous comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting old, it could be time to replace it. Install a new AC system with innovative features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the exact amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to suit demand. Both features reinforce cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.
Balance 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 designed to optimize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or request a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.
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