Humidity and heat during the summer can combine to make what might otherwise be a pleasantly warm North Carolina day into it a tough slog for almost anybody. The reason for this is that the increased moisture in the air is something like putting on an extra layer of clothing: it traps more heat inside the body, making temperatures feel warmer. So an 80°F day will feel like it’s actually 90°F. When relative humidity rises above 60%—a common event around here—the discomfort kicks in.
Your Air Conditioner Doesn’t Like Humidity Either
It’s not just people who suffer when humidity levels soar. Air conditioners have problems with damp, humid air. There’s a misconception that an AC is also a dehumidifier. While air conditioners do have some dehumidification properties, they’re only a side-effect of how they operate.
High humidity can create issues for air conditioners. Here are a few:
- Clogged condensate drain: You occasionally hear the sound of water dripping inside the AC. This is moisture collected along the evaporator coil—a product of the evaporation that draws heat from the air—falling down into a condensate pan. A drain removes the water from the pan. But high humidity can lead to this drain becoming clogged with algal growths. As a result, water will spill out of the pan and the AC will automatically shut down.
- Dirty sock syndrome: This doesn’t sound good, does it? It’s not: it’s a result of mold growing over the moist evaporator coil. The stench of mold then blows through the ducts to the entire house. Aside from the bad smell, this mold over the evaporator coil cuts down on AC efficiency, making the system more expensive to run.
- Corrosion: Water meets metal, and that means corrosion. Humidity can lead to metal parts inside an air conditioner corroding. It’s the biggest problem for electrical connections, which can fail because of corrosion and lead to failed motors and capacitors—and a generally failed air conditioner.
What Can Be Done about This?
You may think you can’t protect an air conditioner from humidity. Humidity happens, and the AC can’t be sealed off from outside air or it won’t work. But you can help to alleviate the effects of humidity and deal with mold growth. The most important step is to always arrange for annual spring maintenance for the cooling system. We offer our Comfort Club to make this easy for you. Each spring, one of our expert technicians inspects your AC, looking for places where corrosion and other damage might be setting in. The technician also checks and cleans the condensate drain and tightens electrical connections. You can expect a full service life from your AC thanks to keeping up with annual maintenance.
There are also services we can provide to address humidity specifically. The main one is installing a whole-house dehumidifier. This protects the AC, but even better, it makes your home more comfortable. To address mold growth in the system, we work with UV air purifiers that bathe the evaporator coils in ultraviolet light. This kills mold and prevents it from returning.
Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.—Serving the Triangle Area of North Carolina.