Humidity and Your HVAC System: FAQs

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If you’ve lived in the DFW area for any length of time, you know how humid this part of Texas can get. An average annual humidity of 66 percent all but guarantees muggy weather, not just outdoors, but also inside homes ill-equipped to fight the problem through their air conditioning systems.

If you can’t seem to get comfortable on humid days, or if your home shows such obvious signs of moisture control problems as mold infiltration, you need to understand how HVAC systems remove moisture, why they may fail to get the job done, and what you can do to lower residential humidity levels. Start with these frequently asked questions.

What Can High Humidity Do to Your Home and Its Occupants?

You should welcome a certain amount of airborne moisture, since extremely dry indoor air can also dry out your skin, not to mention its contributions to static electricity buildup and sinus issues. However, too much moisture in the air can interfere with your family’s health and comfort while also threatening your home itself.

A relative humidity level above 50 percent causes condensation to form on surfaces. These collections of water can foster mold, which in turn can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions. At the same time, the water can rot wood and other organic materials, which can weaken beams, damage furniture, and attract pests.

How Do HVAC Systems Extract Moisture From the Air?

An HVAC system dries the air in your home by cooling it. The evaporator coils in your air conditioner contain a refrigerant that can shed and absorb heat rapidly as it changes from a gas to a liquid and back again. The system pushes moist, warm air past cold evaporator coils to remove unwanted moisture.

The rapid cooling imparted by the chilled refrigerant turns evaporated water into liquid water, a process called condensation. This liquid water falls into a drain pan in the HVAC system, then exits your home through a drain line.

Why Does Your HVAC System Struggle to Reduce Your Home’s Humidity?

Your HVAC system might have trouble extracting moisture from the indoor air for a variety of reasons. The most obvious cause involves age-related wear and tear that reduces the system’s efficiency and eventually leads to a breakdown. You can forestall this deterioration by following your HVAC technician’s replacement schedule advice.

The builder of your home may have installed too small or too large an HVAC system for your home’s specific needs. An insufficient air conditioner may run night and day without successfully cooling your home and extracting excess moisture. A too-large system may shut on and off too rapidly to affect humidity levels.

Your own HVAC usage and maintenance habits can impact humidity control. For instance, if you never change your air filter or check the state of your air ducts, accumulated dust or leaks in the ductwork can impair HVAC efficiency.

Not all humid indoor air stems from a failure in the air conditioning system. If your home suffers from a hidden plumbing leak or gaps around windows and doors, for instance, you will feel constant mugginess in the air no matter how hard you run your AC.

How Can HVAC Professionals Help You Conquer Your Humidity Problem?

Skilled, experienced HVAC technicians can determine the cause of high indoor humidity. Periodic inspections can reveal any issues that need correcting. An HVAC company that also offers plumbing services can even detect and fix leaks that introduce extra water into the air.

If your home contains an air conditioner that is too small or too large to manage indoor humidity levels, or if your system has reached the end of its rated lifespan, your HVAC technician may recommend that you replace the unit. As an alternative, you can install a separate dehumidifier.

Dial One Johnson offers technicians skilled in air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance to help you gain greater control over your indoor humidity and air quality, as well as plumbing experts who can deal with other unwanted moisture issues in your home. Contact us today.

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