by Tom Casey, America's Most Awarded Contractor
Humidity is an invisible force, that’s easy to overlook. Yet, it’s essential to our comfort and health at home and at work. As humans, we’re designed to live within a certain range of environmental conditions. Too HOT, too COLD, too WET, too DRY… our bodies can’t handle it and don’t like it.
Too hot or too cold are easy to recognize, because you can literally feel extreme temperatures. Too hot or too cold are also relatively easy to resolve with a simple adjustment of your thermostat.
We Thrive Within a Certain Humidity Range
Too dry (not a Florida problem), and our bodies get dehydrated. Too wet/humid (definitely a Florida problem), and we encounter risks like bacteria growth and getting overheated. Too much humidity is UNCOMFORTABLE and our bodies are less efficient getting through our daily tasks.
Hot & Humid
Living in Florida, which is technically defined as a “hot, humid” climate zone from an engineering perspective, we face the daily challenge of battling the environment. Florida suffers from excess indoor humidity year-round. In fact, it may even spike in winter months when it’s too cool for our thermostat to call for AC.
Our central air conditioning technically is a dehumidifier of sorts… BUT, only when it’s actually running. Unfortunately, many systems are actually OVERSIZED (too big), so they end up running less, and as a result dehumidifying less too. Then, there’s mild days when the temperature is great, but the humidity is higher, like rainy days when the AC won’t turn on at all.
If the AC does not run, it cannot dehumidify!
Short term, high humidity is purely a DISCOMFORT issue. You can feel it in the form of “sweat” or “stickiness”. Like the title says, “It’s not so much the heat, as the humidity”. Too much humidity makes you “feel” warmer, with that sticky, clammy sensation. You know the one!
Long term, high humidity can lead to infections, disease, and compromise the integrity of your home or facility. It’s often harder for us to realize that humidity can be harmful too, not just uncomfortable. The impact of humidity – and the mold & mildew that thrives in a high humidity environment – will affect your health and wallet.
Dust mites love high humidity, and are widely known to aggravate our allergies and asthma. Even worse, humidity is a breeding ground for microbials like mold, mildew, and other nasty things. Microbials can be dangerous, making you sick and reducing your immune system, increasing your susceptibility to sicknesses. Certain nasties can be especially dangerous and even deadly if they enter our bodies.
More Extreme = More Problems
Mold and other microbial contaminants can penetrate porous surfaces and materials like dry wall, wood, HVAC insulation, duct board, etc. This level of contamination not only looks unsightly, it can also compromise the strength and integrity of our homes. Living in a hot, humid climate, many of us have mold or mildew growing; we don’t have to see it to have it. However, if we can see it, it’s most likely at a dangerous point, and needs to be addressed ASAP.
In most situations, we recommend Relative Humidity at 50% or lower. For a lot of us Floridians, that means investing in DEHUMIDIFICATION.
•Condensation on cool surfaces like ductwork, HVAC vents, air handler cabinets, water lines, etc.
•Microbial growth from “standing water” that collects from condensation, which helps the nasties thrive
•Water staining around “cool junctures” that penetrate ceilings, etc like around HVAC supply vents
•Allergy & asthma aggravation from system airflow circulating inside air handler and ductwork every time your AC turns on, that are contaminated with microbials
•Warping, rotting building assemblies that can be costly to repair
Lowering the thermostat to a lower setpoint so that the AC runs longer is known as “overcooling”. While this may seem like a potential solution, it is both costly and ineffective. In some cases, it can actually make the problem worse!
A whole-home DEHUMIDIFIER can be installed either by itself or attached to your HVAC system to resolve high humidity problems. A central system will protect your furnishings and belongings from warpage, rot, mold, mildew, etc. It will also reduce growth of allergens like mold, mildew, and dust mites. Additionally, a dehumidifier can help eliminate musty smells too.
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