South Florida is famous for its extreme heat and humidity, and this can make it much more difficult for your air conditioner to properly cool your home. If your AC is working correctly, it should not only capture heat from inside the building but also work to remove excess moisture from the air.
Still, there are many times when an AC system can be overwhelmed or otherwise unable to effectively remove moisture from the air, which can lead to the house feeling damp, muggy, and humid. If you’re currently experiencing an issue with high indoor humidity when your AC is running, here are some of the potential causes and what you can do to fix them.
Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working Properly
Your air conditioner uses extremely cold refrigerant to absorb heat from the air inside the home and transfer it outside. As the hot air passes over the evaporator coil, heat is absorbed by the refrigerant. As part of this process, excess moisture in the air condenses on the evaporator coil, which also lowers the humidity level inside the home. However, there are numerous issues that can interfere with this process and lead to high indoor humidity.
For instance, it may be that the system has a refrigerant leak or otherwise doesn’t have enough refrigerant to work properly. Most of the time, this will cause the evaporator coil to freeze up, in which case the system won’t be able to function properly until it fully thaws out. The same thing can also occur if the evaporator coil is dirty. The easiest way to prevent these issues is to make sure you have your AC system professionally maintained at least once a year as this will include both checking the refrigerant level and cleaning the evaporator coil.
Similar issues can also arise if your air filter is excessively dirty or clogged. When this happens, it drastically restricts the airflow coming into the system. Without sufficient airflow, the system simply won’t be able to effectively capture heat and moisture from inside the home.
High indoor humidity can also occur because of an issue with the condensate drain system. As condensation collects on the evaporator coil, it forms water that drips down into the condensate drain pan. When everything is working properly, this water quickly drains through the condensate line and out of the home. However, if the system is clogged or otherwise not working correctly, all of that water has nowhere to go. This leads to water pooling up inside the drain pan where it will eventually evaporate and increase the humidity level inside the home. In this case, the solution is usually as simple as unclogging your condensate drain line.
If your AC unit is more than 10 or 15 years old, it may be that it simply no longer functions well enough to absorb the heat and humidity from your home. In this case, your only option is to replace the unit with a new model.
Your AC Is Too Small for Your Home
An undersized AC is another possible issue and one that is much more common than you probably think. When installing a new air conditioner, it is vital that the technician takes the time to fully evaluate the home to ensure that the new unit is appropriately sized.
If the unit is too large, it can lead to greatly increased energy costs. On the other hand, if the unit is too small, it simply won’t be able to keep up on hotter, more humid days. In this situation, you can try to supplement your cooling with portable or window air conditioners. Still, the much better option is to replace your AC unit with one that is the correct size for your home.
Your Home Isn’t Well-insulated Enough
Insufficient insulation, especially in the attic, is another common cause of high indoor humidity. If your attic isn’t well-insulated and well-sealed, it can allow all of the heat and humidity from outside to seep into the home. When this happens, the AC can struggle to deal with the high indoor humidity even if it runs constantly. In this situation, you will need to hire a contractor to inspect your insulation level and add additional insulation or reseal your attic.
Your Home Is Poorly Ventilated
Inadequate ventilation is a common problem in newer homes. Older homes typically have lots of air leaks, and this allows stale air and humidity to escape from inside the home. Modern building practices and improved materials ensure that newer homes are extremely well-sealed. This is great in terms of energy efficiency, but it also means that the humidity can become trapped inside the home. The problem can become especially bad when you have lots of people inside the home or if you don’t use your exhaust fans while cooking or bathing. To overcome this issue, many newer homes have mechanical ventilation systems that allow for a steady supply of fresh air from outside while also circulating the air so that much of the humidity is transferred outside.
You’re Not Using Your AC Often Enough
The fact that Florida is so hot and humid means that you should really leave your windows closed up tight and your AC turned on 24 hours a day throughout the entire summer. Nonetheless, many people attempt to save money on their cooling costs by shutting their AC off at night. The problem is that doing so can quickly raise the humidity level inside the home to a point where the AC unit can never catch back up.
In fact, studies have shown that the energy savings from turning your AC off at night are extremely minimal in hot, humid places like Florida. Your AC will have to work much harder and run for much longer once you turn it back on in the morning, which can basically negate any energy saving you got from turning it off at night. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you always leave your AC set to “ON” throughout the summer.
You Need to Upgrade Your HVAC System With a Dehumidifier
The fact that Florida can have such extreme humidity means that there are many times when your AC won’t be able to cope even if everything is working correctly. For this reason, more and more homeowners are opting to upgrade their HVAC systems with a whole-home dehumidifier. These units work in conjunction with your existing HVAC system to draw even more moisture out of the air.
Whole-home dehumidifiers are fairly easy to install and require very little maintenance, and they may actually be able to reduce your cooling costs by lessening the strain on your AC and allowing it to run less often. For this reason, a dehumidifier is definitely something every Florida homeowner should seriously consider.
If you’re experiencing problems with high indoor humidity or any other air conditioning issues, the experts at Billfish Air Conditioning, LLC in Stuart, Florida are ready to help. We specialize in air conditioning maintenance and repairs, and our technicians work on all makes and models of AC units. We can also help when it comes time to replace or upgrade your existing AC unit, and we offer a full range of heating services as well. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment.