Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can result in many problems, like mold growth, musty smells, structural problems, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to manage humidity if you plan to enhance 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 stay inside this range. Thankfully, 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, along with ideas to balance indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Lowers 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 requires refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s the process:

    • Indoor air flows through the ductwork and all 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 flows into your home.

Tips to Lower Humidity

Running the air conditioner may be enough to push the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity continues to be a problem in your home, try again with these tips.

Ventilate Correctly

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

Wipe Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and can stimulate mold growth. Wipe up standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you dislike extreme humidity in the summer, look into 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 function separately from the AC to eliminate humidity on milder days without running the air conditioner. This method saves you money and avoids that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Flip the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and drip away. If you use the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won’t be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s better to set the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.

Replace the Air Filter on a Regular Basis

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and could harbor mold and mildew if it becomes wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC starts. Replace the air filter every month or as recommended by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Tweak the Fan Speed

Refining the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this could cause shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you select the right fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your air conditioner is having trouble reaching the set temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying efficiency should improve as a result.

Confirm the Refrigerant Charge

Low refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left unchecked, major issues like a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may occur. Only a qualified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as required, lending you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort problems and your air conditioner is wearing down, it might be time to replace it. Select a new AC system with advanced features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the precise amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying effectiveness.

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

If you think it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your air conditioning, 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 raise questions or schedule a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please call us today.

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