When people think of air conditioning they usually think of the pleasant blasts of cool air that emerge from the vents in their homes and that’s it. Air conditioning in Austin is seen as a necessary weapon for the fight against the mighty heat that comes through this town. But what a lot of people might not realize is that air conditioning isn’t just a tool for ushering in the cool, it’s also a vital part of the fight against humidity as well.
Humidity is something we in Austin are also familiar with and sometimes tend to loathe, as it makes walking around in the heat somehow more uncomfortable than it always is. There’s nothing like a record hot and humid summer to make people want to stay in most of the day. Humidity is, put simply, moisture in the air, and for many reasons, excess of it is something you want to avoid. Air conditioners help with this. In fact, one of the primary reasons modern air conditioners were invented was to control humidity. They used them to reduce the humidity levels in textile mills where too much humidity led to a worse product. But sometimes, a simply air conditioner isn’t enough. In hot and humid climates like ours here in Austin, many might find the benefits of device dedicated to the reduction of humidity very appealing. That’s what this tip is about, dehumidifiers, how they work and why you might consider one.
The Downsides of Humidity
There are two main areas where there are problems that are caused by excess humidity in the home, comfort and health. Discomfort is the most immediately noticeable effect. A humid household is going to feel hotter, stuffier, and just generally uncomfortable in comparison to a house with less humidity. It’s been shown before that once the air in a house surpasses about 40 % or 50 % humidity it will become noticeably less comfortable. Not to mention the fact that it makes the house feel warmer than it is means you’ll have to lower the thermostat to battle this force and that will cause your energy bills to go up.
The second and more pressing problem caused by too much humidity is the growth of mold and dust mites. Organic contaminants such as these thrive in humid environments and die off in less humid ones. So a humid house is going to be a breeding ground for things such as mold and dust mites. Such things are highly disadvantageous to have in your home. Mold and mildew commonly can be found on shower walls, windowsills and other areas in the home where there is high moisture. Mildew can cause musty odors and damage to your home. It can also cause a variety of health issues, including allergies, asthma, breathing difficulties and a cough and sore throat. Dust mites are a problem too. Dust mites are extremely common and are often an overlooked allergy trigger for many people. Even the cleanest homes harbor dust mites, which tend to grow in mattresses, upholstery and carpets. These tiny creatures are microscopic; they don’t bite, but they can cause allergy symptoms in certain people. They like humid environments too and a house with a high moisture problem is the perfect breeding ground for them.
Not to mention, high humidity can be a threat to some of your belongings as well. Things like books, certain clothes, and some kinds of perishable food items don’t do well in environments with high humidity and will last long with the effects of a dehumidifier. While wooden furniture that’s too dry will start to warp and crack, too much humidity is bad for them as well. That’s why it’s best to get your home to that sweet spot between too humid and too dry. In a humid place like Austin, this usually means bringing down the humidity with something like a dehumidifier.
What is a Dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier is kind of like a vacuum for your air. It’s this standing device that you place in your home. Once you turn it on it really does its thing all by itself. For that reason it’s a handy and convenient to use product that is generally small, quiet, and out of the way. The way it works is that it sucks the air from your home into it; it reduces the moisture, then it blows it back out. Think of it like drying your air out continuously to reduce the amount of moisture in your home.
There are two mechanisms through which dehumidifiers work, refrigeration and absorption. The refrigeration method works much like a refrigerator, hence the name. An electric fan in the dehumidifier sucks warm, moist air in through a grille on one side of the machine. The warm passes over freezing cold pipes. Doing so causes condensation to happen. Moisture comes out of the air due to the cold and collects and drains within the dehumidifier. Then the air, now cooler and lacking most of its moisture, is sent back out of the dehumidifier.
Not all dehumidifiers work by refrigeration. Some work by mopping the water out of the air with a water-collecting material and then squeezing the water away to remove it. The mopping action involves either absorption (where the water soaks right into something) or adsorption (where the water is picked up on the surface of something). This is done by a large rotating wheel made of the water collecting material. This type of dehumidifier typically uses heat rather than cold to remove the moisture which is why it’s better suited for those in colder environments.
Signs You Could Use a Dehumidifier
There are several signs you could look out for that might indicate that your house is more humid than it should be. These are things that one could use as signs that your house has a humidity problem. The sight of them should make you think about possibly getting a dehumidifier to reduce the negative effects of excess humidity.
One sign is condensation and water vapor appearing on the glass windows and sliding glass door in your home. If you ever see water beading on the windows and other glass in your home or what looks like fog, then you know pretty much without fail that there’s a lot of humidity around. If the condensation appears on the outside of glass, then it may just be humid day outside. If it’s on the interior though, that’s a sign that you could use a dehumidifier.
Smell is your next tool for detecting excess humidity. If you ever smell a particularly musty odor in your house in general or in one specific location in your house that could likely be a sign of mold and or mildew growth. Mold and mildew like to grow in humid places, so that’s why a musty odor is a sign of too much humidity. Of course, if you ever see mold with your own eyes, that’s an obvious sign of too much humidity too.
If spring ground water dampness has become a recurring problem or you have purchased a home that has white or grayish water level marks in the basement, you may have a humidity problem. Having a dehumidifier on hand to remove the extra moisture should these events occur is a smart move.
To summarize, the five main signs of excess humidity in the home, and thus signs that you could greatly benefit from a dehumidifier, are as follows: wet stains on wall and ceilings that clearly indicate moisture, a stuffy and uncomfortable feeling in the room, the sight of mold or rotting wood, condensation and a foggy look on the interior of the windows and other glass in your home, and a musty smell that might be indicative of mold somewhere in the home.
Humidity Control and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
The great thing about a dehumidifier is that most allow you to have precise control over the level of humidity in your home. Many have controls that are much like thermostats and allow you to dial in how humid you want your home to be. There’s a wide range of prices in the dehumidifier world. For those with localized and small humidity problems could purchase a small unit that can run you around $200. For those who are buying a new house and want to nip any humidity problem in the bud early can opt for a more sophisticated and built-in system.
If you’re curious if there’s an excess humidity problem in your home, an Austin AC repair company like AC Express can help you determine just how much humidity you’ve got in the various rooms in your home. And, if you’re ever in need of any kind of AC repair in Austin, you can count on AC Express to get your HVAC system back to perfect working order in no time whatsoever. Austin air conditioning experts AC Express have the tools and the experienced know how to solve any AC issue no matter how big or how small.