The ideal humidity level in a home falls into the 30% to 50% range, and it should not be higher than 59%. If it’s 60% or higher, several issues may arise. This is the EPA’s recommendation to prevent issues like mold, mildew, and even insect pests.
When your humidity level is too high, it poses issues like condensation building up on windows and surfaces, which increases the risk of mold and mildew growth. That heightens the risk of allergies and respiratory issues related to mold and mildew spores. Cockroaches also can become more of a problem in higher humidity as they thrive in warm, humid areas. It’s why you often find cockroach infestations around leaking pipes and drains.
What you may not realize is that high humidity also impacts the efficiency of your HVAC system. It’s important to get your humidity levels under control to avoid extra wear and tear on your AC system.
How does high humidity wear out your AC faster than normal? What can you do to lower the levels in your home?
The Effects of Humidity on an AC System
Air conditioners can remove some humidity, but they’re not always able to remove as much as is needed. In homes where the bathroom lacks windows or a ventilation fan that removes as much humidity as is needed, humid levels within the home may be higher.
The purpose of a central AC system is to condition the air within a home to keep it cool and comfortable. The air within the home is drawn into ducts and circulated by exposing it to air coolant that absorbs the heat and cools the air by converting that coolant from a gas to a liquid and back.
Cool air is pushed by fans around the home where it comes from the vents attached to the ducts. Thermostats within the home monitor the home’s temperatures, which turns the AC system on and off as needed.
To remove the moisture from the air as it cools, the AC system has to run correctly. If it’s too humid, the system is not going to be able to remove as much warm, humid air as is needed, so you’ll never feel comfortable. The AC has to run more, so the internal components wear out fast, leading to expensive repair bills or a system that needs replacing long before you’d expected to need one.
How Do You Lower Your Home’s Humidity Levels?
Humidity is water vapor that’s found in the air. That water vapor is measured as relative humidity, which is the percentage of moisture being held in the air. A 100% humidity level means it’s raining or very foggy.
The air’s relative humidity is calculated by taking the vapor pressure and dividing it by saturation vapor pressure and multiplying that by 100. Florida’s known for its humidity, so it’s rare to have days with low humidity.
- Check the Home’s Air Tightness
You should make sure your home is sealed well. Look for any gaps in seals at doors and windows. It may pay off to have an assessment completed by an expert to determine the air tightness of your home. If warm air is coming in or you’re losing air-conditioned air through gaps at windows or doors, insulating strips, new seals, or even new doors or windows are all upgrades to consider.
- Improve Insulation
Make sure your attic insulation meets the minimum requirements. In the Miami area, guidelines for ceiling insulation are for a minimum R-30. Wall and floor insulation should be R-13 or higher. If your home no longer meets those requirements, it’s time to have your attic insulation upgraded.
Exceeding the minimums may cost more money upfront, but you’ll have better protection from heat and humidity coming in or from losing cooled air through thin spots in the insulation. The savings you gain in the long run are worth it. Plus, there are federal tax incentives and rebates on insulation projects, so it may not cost as much as you fear.
- Install and Run Ceiling Fans
Increasing air circulation within your home helps distribute any pockets of humid air. The motion of air moving can help evaporate some of the excess moisture. In rooms that are large enough for ceiling fans, install them and use them every day. Energy-efficient ceiling fans keep costs low while ensuring the air is always moving around the home.
- Make Sure Your Ducts Are Properly Insulated and Not Leaking Air
Make sure that your AC ducts are properly insulated. If they’re not, condensation can form on the outside of the duct and release moisture back into the home. Ducts with holes or cracks could be pushing warmer, humid air into the walls, where the humidity returns to the rooms. You may notice that the air within your home is starting to smell musty. That’s a sign that there are problems within your ducts.
If ducts are missing insulation, have an AC professional inspect them and work on duct restoration and repair. While the ducts are restored, have a professional cleaning too. It’s important to have mold and mildew removed.
- Run Dehumidifiers
On days when the humidity is extra high, it may be worthwhile to run dehumidifiers in rooms that tend to be more humid than others. Bathrooms are one of the most humid areas in the home. Kitchens are another when you’re cooking something on the stove or washing dishes. Finally, bedrooms can get humid at night as you have one or more people in a smaller space exhaling moist air all night.
It may be a better idea to have a dehumidifier added to your HVAC system. The dehumidifier removes the humidity before it gets into the ducts where it can lead to mold and mildew growth.
- Add Houseplants
Get some houseplants to absorb some of the extra humidity in the air. Plants can absorb some moisture through their leaves and draw that moisture to the xylem and roots. The best plants for absorbing extra humidity are plants with many leaves or larger leaves like peace lilies, Boston ferns, palms, and ivy.
- Call a Southern Florida AC Professional
Make sure you’ve had your central air conditioning system installed and maintained by a Florida AC expert. As tempting as it is to save money on a DIY system, that’s when you’ll run into problems.
An oversized AC system will cool a home faster, which makes it hard for the system to effectively remove humidity. It turns on and off too often, wearing out components related to starting it up and shutting it down. An undersized system will run constantly to try to cool the room, and it struggles to get the room cool enough, so it never shuts down and will wear out faster.
All Year Cooling provides repairs, maintenance, and inspections of most HVAC brands. If you’re worried that the humidity in your home is too high, reach out to us. Our expert Florida AC technicians will troubleshoot your system, explain what you can do to improve it, and even help you find rebates and tax incentives that help you save money on improvements like a more efficient AC system, insulation upgrades, and mold-free ducts. Contact us through live chat, email, or phone.