Indoor humidity control is a helpful byproduct of air conditioning. However, there are several reasons why air conditioners do not effectively or efficiently dehumidify the whole home. For example, leaky ductwork, negative pressure and dirty evaporator coils. Let’s take a closer look at an air conditioner’s inability to replace a dehumidifier solution.
Air Conditioners Don’t Really Reduce Humidity
While air conditioning systems help lower indoor humidity, dehumidification is simply a byproduct of the cooling process. Air conditioners aren’t designed to reduce humidity levels indoors. Plus, there are many system factors that affect how your home’s AC will or won’t help control moisture.
The AC Unit Has One Speed
What do we mean by one speed? If your air conditioner turns on and blasts cold air until the desired temperature is achieved, it has one speed. Due to the inconsistent nature of this process, it’s unlikely that the unit removes humidity. It is simply not running long enough to do so.
The AC Unit Is Too Large
No, an oversized air conditioner does not expel heat or moisture better than an appropriately sized unit. To be clear, we’re talking about an excessive cooling capacity, not the literal size of the unit. An oversized AC unit works too hard and too fast for the space, disrupting its ability to cool and dehumidify your home. Like a unit with one speed, a unit that’s too large short-cycles. It collects moisture from the air, but it doesn’t allow the moisture time to drain. Thus, reintroducing the humidity it just removed.
Poorly designed ventilation systems are prone to negative pressure. Negative pressure occurs when the air pressure inside is lower than the air pressure outside. In other words, outdoor air is pushing its way indoors. This makes it difficult for your air conditioner to remove heat and moisture from your home. This is particularly true when it’s humid outside.
Incorrect Thermostat Setting
If your home is struggling to regulate humidity indoors, it may be because the thermostat is set to “on,” not “auto.” There’s a good reason to choose “auto” instead. When your thermostat is set to “on,” the internal fan is constantly running, even when the air conditioner is not. The moisture that was removed is blown back into your home. However, when your thermostat is set to “auto” the fan and the AC only run when your home needs to be cooled. This tip only applies to homes without whole-home IAQ solutions!
The AC Unit Is Old
As your air-conditioning unit ages, it does not work as effectively as it once did. This process may be expedited if your unit is not properly maintained. When your unit starts to decline, you may notice that your home is more humid than usual. In fact, it’s hardly able to cool your home due to its deterioration.
Did you know that approximately 20-30% of conditioned air is lost due to leaky ductwork? When ducts leak, indoor humidity levels can increase. Your air conditioner cannot account for the extra water vapor.
Dirty evaporator coils are responsible for various HVAC issues, including poor dehumidification. An evaporator coil cools the refrigerant so that it can absorb heat from the air. The coil also removes moisture from the air. However, when the coil is covered in dirt and debris, it cannot absorb water vapor. This makes it difficult for your AC unit to cool and dehumidify your home.
Refrigerant is a chemical that absorbs heat and moisture from the air. When the pipes that transport the refrigerant spring a leak, your AC unit cannot cool and dehumidify the air.
Dehumidification Is a Byproduct
Remember, the main reason air conditioners don’t reduce humidity efficiently and effectively is because dehumidification is a byproduct of the primary function. And what is AC’s primary function? To cool your home!
Dehumidify Your Home
If you’re looking to dehumidify your whole home, invest in a whole-home dehumidifier. Unlike an air conditioner, a dehumidifier’s primary function is to remove moisture from the air in your home. The device installs directly into your existing HVAC system. And, it’s equipped with a humidistat that can be set to automatically maintain a certain level of humidity. Homeowners that live in tropical climates will benefit the most from a whole-home dehumidifier.
Don’t Give Up Your AC Unit Yet
To be clear, we’re not bashing air conditioners. They are an essential part of every central HVAC system. However, if you’re looking to dehumidify your home, air conditioners work best in tandem with a dedicated dehumidifier solution. One device focuses solely on dehumidification, while the other provides a helping dry hand. It’s the best of both worlds!