Your Air Conditioner Does More Than Cool Your Home!
All winter long, we’ve been counting down the days until warmer weather. Unfortunately, the humidity that comes with it is not something we’ve been missing or looking forward to.
In St. Louis, high humidity outside leads to high humidity and moisture levels in your home, which leaves you feeling sticky, gross, and altogether uncomfortable in a place that should bring you comfort! Prolonged humidity in your home causes damage to surfaces and negatively affects air quality, too. It creates a cascade of problems in your home if you don’t address the causes quickly.
According to Energy Star, a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, the ideal indoor humidity level is between 30 and 50%. The average person doesn’t have equipment to measure the exact indoor humidity level, but you can watch out for some warning signs that you’re exceeding Energy Star’s recommendations—and, as always, contact Meyer Heating and Air to make sure your central air conditioning is running optimally.
Signs of High Humidity
Even without humidity meters and specialized equipment, Ballwin and Chesterfield residents can easily spot signs that their home’s humidity levels are too high. Watch for early signs so you don’t end up needing costly repairs to your drywall, trim, flooring, and more.
- There’s visible condensation on surfaces like your windows, mirrors, toilet base, and pipes, as well as in your basement—any surface that may be cooler in temperature than the surrounding air. (If you find condensation on these surfaces throughout your home, you’ll need to check nearby areas to ensure the moisture isn’t spreading!)
- The ceiling has water stains and a crumbly surface. Moisture on the ceiling usually just looks like an area of discoloration. Your ceiling finish may have visible damage. Open the curtains and use your home lighting to examine all areas.
- The paint on the walls and ceilings of your home has begun to peel. This is especially prevalent in bathrooms without proper ventilation.
- Your home smells musty, moldy, or mildewy. Some people describe this as smelling smoky. If you’re used to the smells in your home, you might need to leave temporarily and come back inside to be able to detect odors.
- The surfaces in your home, including your furniture, feel moist or look discolored.
When High Humidity Gets Ugly
High humidity doesn’t just make you feel uncomfortable or damage the surfaces in your home. It also can lead to poor air quality. When you breathe “bad” air, it can adversely affect your health.
Mold loves humid environments, and it can grow on any type of organic matter, like wood, carpet, and insulation. Mold is essentially alive; it eats what it’s growing on, and can damage your home if left unchecked. And mold can hide; it thrives in dark areas and places you can’t see, like in your walls, behind your wallpaper, on top of ceiling tiles, and underneath your carpets.
Molds produce allergens and irritants, which can trigger allergic reactions. These responses can include upper-respiratory symptoms, like sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and itchy skin with rashes. Molds also can cause asthma attacks, and even irritate people who don’t have mold allergies. More severely, immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung disease may suffer from infections because of household mold growth.
Serious cases of household mold growth must be professionally remediated to ensure all mold spores were removed from surfaces. This is more than just cleaning with over-the-counter products! Mold remediation also can entail demolition and reinstallation of drywall and insulation, which can get expensive. That’s why it’s best to do everything you can to prevent mold issues before they begin.
There are small quantities of mold spores in every home—it’s a fact of life. But when the mold gets out-of-control and takes over a home full of moisture, that’s when its effects become hazardous.
How to Reduce Your Home’s Humidity
Energy Star and the Centers for Disease Control advise the following ways you can help reduce the sources of moisture in your home:
- Improve the drainage around your home’s foundation. Extend downspouts away from your home, and keep your gutter system clean. Make sure the soil around your house slopes away from the foundation to discourage puddling water.
- Vent your clothes dryer to the outdoors. If you hang your laundry to dry, do it outdoors as much as possible.
- Install vent fans in your bathrooms and kitchens. These should vent outside your home, not into your attic.
- Repair leaking faucets, both inside and outside. You’ll also see a cost savings reflected in your water bill.
- Quickly repair leaks in your roof or walls and thoroughly dry areas in your home that have flooded, within 24 to 48 hours.
- Have a professional perform maintenance and check-ups on your air conditioning system. Quickly address any air conditioning repair you need by calling for professional help.
- Install an A/C vent in the most humid spaces of your home to take advantage of the ways your central air conditioning system can act as a dehumidifier. It also will help to circulate cooled air throughout your home.
- Use a dehumidifier to pull the excess moisture from the air, which discourages mold growth and improves air quality.
- Install new windows, such as double- or triple-pane ones, and storm doors, to improve insulation in your home.
- Leave room doors open to help air circulate, and cover pots while you cook, when possible.
- Consider purchasing a home weather station that measures indoor humidity levels, so you can be proactive as they start to climb.
How Air Conditioner Maintenance and AC Repair Can Help You
Regular air conditioner maintenance can help keep your AC system not only cooling your home, but working to decrease humidity levels in it. At Meyer Heating and Air, we recommend, at the very least, performing annual maintenance before you turn your equipment on for the season, and then scheduling ongoing AC repair as needed to keep it running.
Don’t let humidity wreak havoc in your Sappington home this summer. Contact us today to learn how you can take proactive steps in ensuring your central air conditioning is ready to go when the temperatures heat up.