Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?
Unwanted humidity can cause multiple problems, such as mold spores, musty smells, structural damage, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to manage 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 usually the toughest time of year to remain inside this range. Luckily, running 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, coupled with tips to control indoor humidity levels.
How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity
Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t increase cool, dry air in your home—it takes out heat and humidity. The process necessitates refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:
- Indoor air moves through the ductwork and passes over the evaporator coil filled with cold refrigerant.
- The refrigerant absorbs heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
- The condensation drips into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains away.
- Cool, dehumidified air blows back into your home.
Tips to Reduce Humidity
Turning on the air conditioner will sometimes be adequate to push the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity remains a problem in your home, try these tips.
Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Spot ventilation eliminates humidity at the source to keep these rooms a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s milder outside to draw in fresh air.
Clean Up Standing Water
Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and will sometimes encourage mold growth. Wipe up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.
Use a Dehumidifier
If you grapple with extreme humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house system can even operate independently of the AC to lower humidity on more temperate days without using the air conditioner. This strategy saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.
Flip the AC Fan to Auto
The condensation that collects on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you use the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s better to flip the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.
Change the Air Filter on a Regular Basis
A clogged filter traps dust and debris and could support mold spores if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC is running. Replace the air filter each month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and enhance air quality.
Tweak the Fan Speed
Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this can lead to shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you determine the best fan speed for your comfort needs.
Clean the Evaporator Coil
A grimy coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your AC is having trouble reaching the desired temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying capabilities should improve as a result.
Check the Refrigerant Charge
Low refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, severe issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could happen. Only a skilled HVAC technician can solve refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, offering you another reason to request an AC tune-up.
Exchange Your Air Conditioner
If your home has constant comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting older, it could be time to replace it. Install a new AC system with innovative features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the precise amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adapts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.
Manage Indoor Humidity with Coastal Service Experts
If you believe it’s time to get a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your air conditioner, Coastal Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are structured to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or request a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.