Does Humidity Affect My Air Conditioner?

Your air conditioner is the much-needed reprieve from the summer heat and humidity around Belleville. However, that same heat and humidity have an adverse effect on your system, leading to breakdowns during the most intense days. Learn more about the significance of humidity, what it does to your system, and how to prepare for it to rise.

What Is Humidity?

Humidity is simply the measure of how much moisture is in the air. What you may not know is there are two ways to measure this moisture.

The relative humidity is what is commonly reported in the weather and used when discussing issues like indoor air quality. This is the measure of how much moisture is in the air compared to what it can hold.

As the air warms up, it can hold more moisture. Therefore, hotter days with 70% humidity feel muggier than do cooler days. This concept also causes that moisture to condense from the air when the temperature drops, leaving a dew on the ground.

The other measure is absolute humidity. This is the actual amount of moisture in the air, measured in grams of water per cubic meter of air.

So, when the temperature outside rises, it causes the absolute humidity in your home to also rise. Being your home has a more constant temperature, the relative humidity will rise. This means whatever method of dehumidification you use will have to work harder to achieve your desired level of comfort.

Methods to Control Indoor Humidity

Mechanical dehumidification is the best way to control the summer humidity levels. If you have a central air conditioner, that works to draw some moisture out of the air.

Your air conditioner may not be sufficient during the hottest and most humid parts of the summer. Adding additional dehumidifying options may be needed to maintain optimal indoor humidity. The EPA recommends aiming for 30% to 50% relative humidity inside your home.

If you are going to add dehumidifiers, you can do individual room units, or add a special unit to your HVAC system. Individual units are nice because they have a lot of versatility and are inexpensive to install. They are also independent of the HVAC system, so you have more control over when they run.

However, they have significant limits on the function. To service your house well, your home must have good air circulation. You should also be concerned about drawing too much humidity out of a single room. Plus, individual units require periodic attention to empty the collection container to avoid flooding or tripping the safety shutoff.

Whole-house units are a little more expensive to install. However, the HVAC system naturally has more airflow from around your house. It then pushes the drier air out into all the rooms, drawing down the relative humidity throughout your house.

Uncontrolled Humidity and Your Air Conditioner

When thinking about the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, a major part of the equation is the operational strain. Your system naturally experiences more strain as heat and humidity rise.

Your air conditioner works by absorbing heat from the air inside your home and venting it to the outside. As your system runs, the temperature of the air flowing over the evaporator coils drops rapidly, causing the humidity to condense. This is what provides the dehumidification effect inside your home.

When the relative humidity is higher, there is more moisture to pull from the air to make it comfortable. The system has a maximum amount of moisture it can pull at a time based on the air flow rate and temperature differential. This means the system must run longer to pull the same amount of moisture from the air.

Indoor Air Quality Considerations

More importantly for your HVAC system is humidity’s role on indoor air quality. Air quality is the number of contaminants in the air. These clog your air filters and settle on your system’s circulating fan and evaporator coil, reducing airflow and cooling efficiency.

Humidity greater than 50% creates an environment conducive to biological and spore development. Both translate into adding more particles to your air which eventually settle into your system. This increases not only circulating allergens but adds even more strain to your system during the most intense days.

However, humidity less than 30% also has a detrimental effect, which individual room units are prone to causing. When the humidity drops this low, it causes the particles in the air to become light, staying airborne longer. This leads to even more contaminants clogging up your HVAC system rather than settling as dust.

For more than 60 years people around Belleville have turned to BELOMAN for trusted indoor air quality solutions, including humidity control. Our team is also sought after for our expert heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance and repair services. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our indoor air quality experts today.