The gulf coast of Texas is no stranger to muggy, sticky weather from immense levels of humidity. Airborne water vapor makes the air heavy, stuffy, difficult to breathe, and makes it seem like there’s seemingly no relief anywhere to be found. However, if you’re dealing with this same battle in your own home, you could also be facing problems such as wood rot, ruined flooring, mold growth, and much more. An over-abundance of humidity in your home also leaves you feeling uncomfortable around the clock.
However, arguably the greatest weapon you have against in-home humidity is one you may be overlooking: your air conditioner. Air conditioners naturally remove humidity from the air, leaving your home cool, dry, and refreshing while providing you with the relief you need from the sticky outside air.
The Condensation Principle
Have you ever left a glass of cool ice water sitting on the counter for about five minutes or so? When you’ve come back, you may or may not have been surprised to see that the outer surface of the glass is almost as wet as the inside surface that’s holding the water in! This is a common example of the effect known as “condensation,” which is an important principle for how your air conditioner works.
Water is commonly found in three states: solid, liquid, and gas. Solid water, known as ice, melts when it gets to a certain temperature, becoming liquid water. When liquid water absorbs enough energy, it turns into gas form, known as water vapor, which is found in the air all around us. The amount of vapor in the air is known as the humidity level, and too much humidity is what makes the air feel sticky. Warmer air can hold more vapor, while cool air can’t hold nearly as much.
It’s when the temperature of the air containing vapor drops that condensation occurs. When air passes over a surface that’s significantly cooler, the vapor in the air passes by the cold side of the glass, causing it to suddenly decrease in temperature and return to liquid form. Eventually, the amount of vapor becomes substantial, leading to a thick layer of fog on the glass that eventually beads up and turns into water droplets that leave that ring of moisture at the base of the glass!
How Condensation Works in Air Conditioning
Your air conditioner cools the air in your home by forcing air over a coil filled with and extremely cold liquid, known as refrigerant. Essentially, this makes the coil become the glass of water in the previous example. As air packed with water vapor is forced over the coil, the vapor collides with the extremely cold surface of the coil, which both causes the air to transfer heat directly to the coil as well as returns the water vapor to liquid form. Because the liquid is no longer light enough to travel with the air, the air travels through your duct system with a much lower amount of humidity, making it feel dry and cool.
But what happens to the water that condenses on your coil? After a while it should start dripping, right? That’s absolutely correct. When the water vapor on the coil becomes significant enough, it beads up into droplets that fall off the coil and land in a drain pan, which is connected to a pipe that carries this condensed water safely away from your home.
As your air conditioner runs, this process runs continually, removing more and more vapor from the air while also cooling your home. This makes your air conditioner one of your greatest allies when trying to fight back in the war against the Texas Gulf Coast’s often-immense humidity levels. However, there is a risk. If the amount of air that flows over your coil isn’t large enough, the refrigerant in the coils won’t be able to absorb enough heat. This can cause the surface of your coil to become ice cold, and the water that has condensed will actually start to freeze. When your coil freezes, the effect usually only snowballs until your entire passageway is blocked, causing your entire system to shut down! And that could be a disaster in the middle of summer!Call the Kerrville HVAC services team at 72 Degrees Air Conditioning & Heating at (830) 302-3140 to request a repair estimate if you’re struggling with in-home humidity problems!