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Do I Need a Dehumidifier When I Have an AC?

flushed-man-before-fanIf you’ve lived through a summer here in Louisiana, you understand that humidity is a serious problem for comfort. Even mild warm days can feel like a blistering 90°F when the relative humidity level is high enough. The reason for this is that the higher moisture levels in the air trap heat inside the body, making it harder for it to release the excess heat through perspiring. Humidity causes other troubles as well: encouraging mold and mildew growth and causing water damage to surfaces.

But you have an air conditioner in your home, so that should take care of the humidity problem, right?

Well, not really. You may have heard that air conditioners are natural dehumidifiers, but there’s more to it than that.

An Air Conditioner Does Dehumidify—But Not Enough

When an air conditioner is running, cold refrigerant passes through an indoor evaporator coil where the refrigerant evaporates and draws ambient heat out of the air. This process cools the air, but it also draws moisture from the air along with the heat. The moisture condenses along the coil and then drips down into a pan underneath, where the condensate is then pumped away through a drain. This is why you occasionally hear the sound of water dripping inside the air conditioner cabinet.

This process lowers the amount of moisture in the air, which technically dehumidifies it. But unless an air conditioner is built specifically with humidity controls, it isn’t effective as a dehumidifier. Especially in our humid climate, the moisture in the air easily overwhelms an air conditioner, and the extra moisture along the coil can lead to mold growing there and creating the icky “dirty sock syndrome” that makes the air conditioner give off a smell like … well, look at the name again.

What You Can Do About High Humidity

If your home is often stuffy and uncomfortable because of humidity, the best way to deal with it is to have HVAC professionals install a whole-house dehumidifier. This system is integrated into the HVAC system so it works in conjunction with the air conditioner to lower relative humidity into the comfortable range of around 40%. The dehumidifier works similar to the AC (evaporating refrigerant along a coil), but is more powerful at the job and also reheats the air it dehumidifies so it doesn’t end up interfering with the air conditioner’s operation. The controls for the dehumidifier, the humidistat, can be integrated into the climate controls for the house.

You can purchase portable dehumidifiers as well, but these units are only effective in single rooms and don’t have precision humidity control. They can also create a fire hazard, so we don’t recommend using them. A whole-house system will give you the humidity control you need through all the rooms and should last you for many years.

For installation of a dehumidifier in Bossier City, LA—or any air conditioning service you may need—call us. We have experience handling local climate conditions, having served the area since 2001.

Call the Doctor of Home Comfort: Hall’s Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration.

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