Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can result in multiple problems, like mold growth, musty odors, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s necessary to control humidity if you hope to enhance indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the hardest time of year to stay within this range. Thankfully, turning on the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with ideas to manage 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 rushes through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant absorbs heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan under the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows into your home.

How to Decrease Humidity

Running the air conditioner may be sufficient to bring the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, try these tips.

Ventilate Properly

Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. This form of ventilation removes humidity at the source to keep these rooms a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to draw in fresh air.

Clean Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and can encourage mold growth. Dry any standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you struggle with extreme humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even operate independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on mild days without running the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Set the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to build up and trickle away. If you run the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s more effective to adjust the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor turns on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Swap Out the Air Filter Regularly

An old filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes encourage mold and mildew if it becomes wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC is running. Exchange the air filter every month or as advised by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Refining the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on the hottest days, but this may cause shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you choose the right fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your AC is having trouble sustaining the desired temperature, get in touch with our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left unchecked, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can solve refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as necessary, giving you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting older, it might be time to replace it. Install a new AC unit with modern features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the exact amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adapts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Control Indoor Humidity with McKinley Heating Service Experts

If you think it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your AC system, McKinley Heating Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are designed to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or arrange a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.

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