Does Humidity Affect My Air Conditioner?

Humidity and air conditioners don’t mix well. Just ask anyone who has had to service or replace their AC unit after too many Ohio summers with humid temperatures. Hot, muggy air can damage air conditioners over time and can contribute to other issues within a home as well.

That’s why homeowners need to ensure that humidity levels within their homes stay within an appropriate range. Too little humidity, as well as too much, can wreak havoc on AC units. Here are the many ways that humidity causes problems for your air conditioner and how that can also lead to problems for your home.

Humidity Strains Air Conditioners

Running air conditioners in humid temperatures every summer can result in more service repairs or broken units over time. When AC units cool air, they do so via a filtration process.

While warm air is entering the unit, the heat is cooled down by a refrigerant. The heat is then condensed and removed from the air within the condenser unit. The cool air that comes out of the air conditioner is the result of this process.

The problem with humid air is that it contains moisture, which must be removed from the air. The moisture is what makes humidity feel hot, so it’s as if the air conditioner is being given two jobs instead of one: cooling the air and cooling the moisture within the air.

Inefficient Cooling

While your AC unit is working harder to cool the air within its system, it is also tasked with having to evenly cool an entire room or home. This means that it is performing multiple tasks, and it is already struggling with the first one because of high humidity levels.

Both the input process (cooling air) and the output process (cooling rooms) can become compromised, leading to inefficient cooling. As cooler air is pushed out of the unit, it’s immediately meeting with humid air, which is causing some of it to warm up again.

Drain Pan Issues

Most AC units remove moisture that accumulates within the system by placing it into a drain pan. Think of a drain pan as something that is meant to protect the AC unit, not just something that is meant for discarding waste.

If your AC unit is working all the time to remove moisture from the air, the drain pan may eventually overflow. In some cases, this can result in wear and tear on a part known as a condensate pump. If the condensate pump breaks, it can damage the entire AC unit, leaving you with costly repairs.

More Energy Is Used

Because the AC unit is working much harder to cool the air in humid temperatures, this also means that it’s using more electrical energy. Over time, you may notice that your electrical bills are much higher than they used to be. This is often one of the first warning signs that many homeowners see when they first realize that they may have a humidity problem.

Feeling Muggy or Sweaty

If your air conditioner is so overloaded by humidity, it can become less effective at combatting it. You may then start to experience the effects of this.

As humidity in the ambient air within your home accumulates, it creates a muggy, hot feeling, regardless of whether your air conditioner is on or not. This can make you feel uncomfortable to the point where you may feel the need to take frequent showers. This uncomfortable feeling comes about from excess sweat on your skin.

When sweating in a windy or cooler environment, your sweat dries and evaporates where you might not notice it much. But when you sit in a room with high humidity, your body not only begins to sweat more than usual, but the sweat also has nowhere to go because the air is too dense with moisture.

Condensation on Windows

While your air conditioner struggles to keep up with indoor humidity, you’ll probably start noticing excess condensation as it’s gathering on the windows in your home. This is the same effect that you would notice inside a vehicle on a hot and humid day, only on a larger scale within your home.

While children may see this as an opportunity to draw shapes or animals on your windows with their fingers, adults should recognize this as a warning sign of high humidity levels. Although high humidity can’t damage your windows, it can damage your air conditioner and structures within your home over time. If your AC unit is normally on and you’re still seeing foggy windows, it’s usually an indicator that the humidity is already affecting the performance of your AC unit.

Microorganisms in Your Home

A few of the more serious dangers that high humidity can cause in a home include fungus and mold. Not only can these organisms create structural damage to your home, but they can also cause major problems for those who have allergies or breathing disorders.

In otherwise healthy people, these threats can even cause asthma or other breathing disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the case of COPD, a specific fungus known as Aspergillus fumigatus, which is commonly found in homes with high humidity, has been linked to the disorder.

Although air conditioners are not normally hospitable places for fungus and mold, they can play a role in distributing fungal spores throughout your home. The moisture in humid air helps these spores travel more easily into an air conditioning unit.

If your air conditioner is effectively removing most of the humidity in a home, you may not see any fungus or mold until its performance begins to fail. However, sometimes you have these microorganisms long before this happens, especially in damp and dark areas that may be less noticeable.

Foul Odors

Humidity can also cause odors in a home, and they can linger inside air conditioners even after extensive cleaning within rooms. These odors can come about in different ways, such as from mold.

The water molecules and moisture in humid air traps these odors and can cause them to disperse and spread throughout a home. Because these molecules can easily stick to fabrics, upholsteries, and carpeting, musty smells often become embedded within them.

When your AC unit ends up with these foul smells within it, it may require servicing so it can be cleaned properly. Some AC units are fitted with charcoal odor-fighting filters, but these may still need to be replaced regularly, and it doesn’t fully protect the unit from these smells.

Humidity Treatment

High indoor humidity is a problem that should be assessed and treated carefully. Servicing Worthington, Ohio, and the surrounding areas, we provide expert solutions that can protect both your air conditioner and your home from this type of threat. We also offer other services, including indoor air quality testing and heating and air maintenance, installation, and repairs. Feel free to contact us at Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for more information.

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