Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Excess humidity can cause various problems, like mold spores, musty smells, structural problems, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to control humidity if you plan to improve indoor air quality and home comfort.

The ideal relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is typically the most challenging time of year to stay inside this range. Fortunately, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, along with ideas to balance indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it takes out heat and humidity. The process necessitates refrigerant, which soaks up heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:

    • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and all over the evaporator coil filled with cold refrigerant.
    • The refrigerant absorbs heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
    • The condensation flows into the condensate pan beneath the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
    • Cool, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

Ways to Decrease Humidity

Using the air conditioner will sometimes be enough to bring the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, consider these tips.

Ventilate Effectively

Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. This form of ventilation lowers humidity at the source to keep these rooms comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s milder outside to draw in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and will sometimes stimulate mold spores. Wipe up standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Install a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with increased humidity in the summer, look into 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 function separately from the AC to remove humidity on more temperate days without using the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and avoids that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Adjust the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and drip away. If you run the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to adjust the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.

Replace the Air Filter Consistently

An old filter traps dust and debris and may harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC starts. Replace the air filter each month or as suggested by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Refining the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this may cause shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you choose the best fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your air conditioner is having trouble maintaining the preferred temperature, get in touch with our HVAC specialists to tune up your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying efficiency should improve as a result.

Confirm the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, severe issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure can develop. Only a skilled HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, offering you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting older, it may be time to look for a new one. Install a new AC unit with innovative features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the perfect 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 efficiency.

Control Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing

If you believe it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or replace your air conditioner, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC services are tailored to improve 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 call us today.

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