Although this time of year is cooler even for Florida, there’s a good reason why Florida is designated a “humid subtropical climate”. Warm days go on into the dead of winter, and the humidity never seems to end. When the warm days continue and the humidity rises, people will turn on their air conditioners to get some relief from both. The level of interior humidity can affect mood as well as comfort. Our bodies cool themselves through evaporation of moisture, and humidity in the air impairs that process.
One of the functions of air conditioning is to remove moisture from the air. This process can inflict some degradation of performance on you AC over time. This will affect the overall efficiency of your HVAC systems in cold as well as hot weather. Here you’ll find some of the problems in maintaining humidity levels, along with solutions that can help you sustain a comfortable home year-round.
When AC systems are working properly, they will remove the right amount of moisture from your interior spaces along with heat. Modern AC units are designed to maintain a comfortable environment in both ways. However, if your system is not working as it should, it may struggle to keep a comfortable interior climate, no matter how far you turn down the thermostat.
AC systems that are older, improperly installed or maintained, or incorrectly sized for the volume of space they must cool, won’t perform well. When you feel hotter, you tend to turn up the AC even more. The system will work harder; that drives up your energy bills and puts more stress on the equipment without solving the problem.
However, upgrading to a larger and more powerful air conditioner won’t necessarily solve your humidity problems. It will consume more electricity. You should consult with an HVAC professional on the properly sized units for your home. If your AC system isn’t currently able to provide you the level of comfort you want, you may very well have a problem with it’s ability to remove moisture from the air flowing through it. The more obvious signs that this is case include:
You should then take action to ensure the system is working properly.
Now may be a good time to get the HVAC serviced before the problem is exacerbated by the hot Florida summer. In the peak of the Florida heat, it’s recommended that residents have AC systems that will keep moisture levels below 60 percent.
In some cases a professional HVAC tech can install a dehumidifier into your existing HVAC. This will assist your air conditioner in removing humidity so that it doesn’t find its way into duct systems or walls. Trained professionals will know the right unit for the best effect. Even if you’re having a new or upgraded system installed, ask about the advantages of installing a dehumidifier to run during the humid summer.
Another good option is to purchase a portable unit than can plug in and operate wherever you wish to remove moisture from the room. The dehumidifier you pick should have a humidity indicator which you have to check often, as well as periodically emptying the drip pan where the removed moisture collects. But it can be an easy way to make a room more comfortable on a hot day. It will definitely help out your AC and remove some of the other problems of excess moisture, like moldy smells or fogging windows.
The heat and humidity will also take a toll on outdoor units. Moist, heavy air, especially in Florida, is likely to contain dust, pollen, molds, or algae that can settle on outdoor equipment and accumulate there into an unpleasant film. It can also collect into AC coils, screens, and cooling fins. In the summer, many Florida residents will leave their AC units running 24 hours a day, for days on end. This also puts a strain on your AC system.
Regularly cleaning the unit with a garden hose can help to reduce this. There are also commercial products specially made for cleaning air conditioner coils. Cleaning helps to sustain more efficient operation so that your AC unit works better and saves electricity. An occasional misting of water on the unit itself will also help to cool it in hot weather so that it can absorb more heat from inside the home.
Your comfort in your own home is important, but keeping you AC at optimal levels is especially important on muggy Florida days when the system is working at its hardest.