The summers in the Chicago area can be extremely hot and muggy, and this can make it extremely difficult to manage the humidity level inside your home. If everything is working correctly, your air conditioning system should be able to effectively control the humidity inside your home since the system removes both moisture and heat from the building. However, there are a number of potential issues that can cause your home to still feel damp and humid even when the AC is running all the time. If you're currently experiencing this issue, here are some of the possible causes and what you can do about them.
AC Isn't Working Properly
If your home feels overly humid when your air conditioning is running, there is a good chance that your AC system isn't working properly and either needs to be repaired or replaced. This is especially true if your air conditioner seems to be running constantly or has issues keeping your home at the desired temperature. It may be that your system is low on refrigerant due to a leak in the evaporator coil, condenser coil or refrigerant lines. In this situation, you will need to have an HVAC technician inspect your system to find and repair the leak and then top the system up with more refrigerant.
The problem could also be that you don't have sufficient airflow coming into the system. This could be because your air filter is clogged and needs to be replaced. Insufficient airflow can also occur if your supply or return air vents are clogged or obstructed or because of leaks or other issues with your ductwork. It may also be that the motor on the blower fan is beginning to wear out and can no longer circulate enough volume of air for the cooling system to work properly.
In most cases, these and other AC issues will lead to both higher indoor temperatures and increased indoor humidity. The easiest way to avoid these issues is to have your cooling system inspected and professionally maintained every spring. That being said, problems can still arise at any time and especially if your AC unit is more than 10 years old. If you suspect you're having any air conditioning issues, the NATE-certified HVAC technicians at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing are always on hand to diagnose and repair whatever issue you’re facing.
AC Isn't Running Often Enough
If your air conditioning system is running properly and you're still having issues with high indoor humidity, it might be that you're simply not running your air conditioner often enough. If you're like many people, you might shut your AC off when you go to bed at night in order to save energy. You might also be one of those people who sleeps with the window open every night. In either case, this could be a major part of the reason why your home is constantly humid.
If you turn off your air conditioning at night, even if the temperature inside your home doesn't rise, the humidity level still can. This can make it nearly impossible for your AC to keep up with the humidity during the day since it will still shut off when it reaches the set temperature no matter what the humidity level is.
The problem can become even worse if you keep your windows open at night since it will allow the humid outdoor air to penetrate into the home. When this happens, the moisture doesn't just stay in the air. Instead, it soaks into your floors, walls and furnishings, and this can result in the humidity level inside the house staying much higher no matter how long your air conditioner runs.
Studies have shown that in humid areas, keeping your AC off and windows open at night will usually negate any energy savings from the AC not running at night. This is because the system will need to work harder when it comes back on in the morning due to all of the moisture that got into the house at night. For this reason, it is always best to keep your AC turned on and your windows and doors closed throughout the summer except for on much milder, drier days.
Condensate Drain System Is Clogged
Your AC system is designed to trap moisture from the air, and this moisture then exits the building through the condensate drain system. However, if the condensate drain system is clogged or not draining properly, the moisture will be trapped inside the house and eventually evaporate back into the air. When this happens, your AC won't have an effect on the humidity level inside the home no matter how long it runs. Luckily, issues with the condensate drain system are usually fairly easy to spot and to fix. If the drain pan inside the air handler unit has standing water in it, this indicates that the drain system isn't working properly. In this case, you can either attempt to unclog the drain line yourself or enlist the help of an HVAC technician.
Insufficient Insulation in Your Attic
Your indoor humidity issues may also be a sign that your attic isn't properly insulated and sealed. If the attic has air leaks or insufficient insulation, it will allow the heat and humidity from outside to seep into the building. As with many of the other issues, this can make it impossible for your air conditioning system to ever properly manage the humidity level inside the building. In this situation, you will need to have your attic air sealed or add additional insulation to overcome the issue.
Ways to Better Control Your Home's Humidity Level
If you're dealing with high indoor humidity levels in your home, there are several things you can do to make it easier for your AC to keep up. The most obvious one is to always keep your house sealed up tightly whenever the humidity level outside is higher. You should also make sure to use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom every time you cook or bathe since both of these things can create a lot of steam and quickly increase the humidity level.
While these things can definitely help, by far the best way to better control your home's humidity level is to install a whole-home dehumidifier. These units work to remove much of the moisture from the air inside your HVAC system before it reaches the evaporator coils. This not only reduces the humidity level in the air but also lessens the strain on your air conditioner. The more humid the air is, the hotter it is as well. As a result, your air conditioner will have to work much harder to keep your home cool. This is why, in many cases, installing a whole-home dehumidifier leads to lower energy bills as it can allow your air conditioner to run less frequently and for shorter periods.
If you're experiencing any issues with high humidity or insufficient cooling, the technicians at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help to ensure your home stays cool and comfortable. We work on all makes, models and types of heating and cooling systems, and we also offer a full range of plumbing services. With locations in Plainfield and New Lenox, we serve customers throughout most of the Chicago metro area. Stop struggling with high heat and humidity and instead give us a call to see what we can do to improve your home comfort.