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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

Does My AC Help Control Humidity?

flushed-man-before-fanHumidity is obviously a big issue in Florida. It can make a moderately warm day seem stiflingly hot, and a hot day pretty miserable. The reason for this is that the higher levels of moisture make it harder for the body to release heat through perspiration. More heat is trapped in the body, and this makes the temperature feel hotter. On our occasional colder days during the winter, humidity is often welcome—but it’s still not something you want inside your home, since it promotes mold and mildew growth and can cause building damage.

But what about your home’s air conditioner? It helps with the heat, of course, which it does by removing heat from inside the house and exhausting it outside. Does it also help with humidity control? It’s a tricky “yes-but-more-like-no” answer which we’ll get into below.

Air conditioning systems do have dehumidifying properties

A refrigerant-based AC (as opposed to a swamp cooler, which uses water to cool the air) does subtract some moisture from the air in a house. The indoor coil of an air conditioner is the evaporator coil, where cold refrigerant is evaporated as the warmed air from the home is run over it. When the refrigerant evaporates, it draws heat from the air. But it also draws moisture as well. This why you’ll sometimes hear water dripping in the AC: that’s the moisture on the coil of the air conditioner dripping down into a pan, where it’s pumped out. So, yes, the air conditioner dehumidifies the air.

But … it doesn’t control the humidity. That’s another issue.

Air conditioning systems are not dehumidifiers

Unless an air conditioner was installed with special humidity controls, it is not an effective way to balance humidity in a home. In our Florida climate, the high humidity levels are far too much for a standard AC to handle. The best relative humidity level for comfort is around 45% (this is a measure of how saturated the air is with water; 100% means the air cannot hold any more water and it’s raining). Humidity in Florida is often above 80%, and a standard AC cannot put any kind of dent into that.

An air conditioner can sometimes make a house too dry, although this is rarely an issue in our climate. But you should get the basic idea: the AC isn’t able to control humidity to get it to the level you need. This is why we recommend installing air conditioners with dehumidifiers built in. The humidity controls allow a homeowner to adjust the relative humidity level as easy as adjusting the temperature.

The broken AC and humidity

If your home feels more humid than normal as your air conditioner is running, you may have need to schedule air conditioning repair in Newberry, FL. Higher humidity in the home could be due to the AC losing either its cooling or air circulation abilities, or it might be due to ventilation issues. No matter the source, you want trained HVAC technicians on the job to find out what’s wrong and have it fixed.

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