Humidity, Air Conditioning, and Arizona’s Monsoon Season

Here in Phoenix, we love the temperate winters and seemingly always readily-available sun. And even though summer temperatures climb well into the 100’s, we rest easy knowing that we can crank up the A/C and relax comfortably in our homes. People from all over the world move to Arizona to trade the cold and ice for our “dry heat”. However, in addition to our sunny weather, Phoenix has another advantage over most climates in the United States. Here in the southwest, we have some of the lowest humidity levels in the entire country.

Lower humidity makes us feel more comfortable, even in higher temperatures, and is beneficial to the functionality of our air conditioners.

How Humidity Affects Your Air Conditioning

Air conditioners, by design, draw excess moisture out of your home while cooling. This dehumidification process is an added benefit of all central air conditioning systems. The removal of humidity makes the air within our homes to feel fresher and more comfortable.

On the other hand, what happens when there’s excess humidity present on your home? Here are some things you might notice:

  1. Your air conditioning unit may become overtaxed, as it tries to counter the humidity.
  2. Although your thermostat settings may be the same, you’ll feel warmer and less comfortable due to the excess moisture in the air. In an attempt to get comfortable, you have to lower your A/C temperature setting more than usual. This only further stresses to your system causing it to run longer and increasing your power bill.
  3. Left unchecked; excess humidity throughout your home can cause numerous problems, from mold growth to structural deterioration.

Arizona has low humidity the majority of the year, so excess moisture isn’t normally an issue. Of course, there’s one exception to the rule: Monsoon, aka the rainy season.

This time of year, and the high humidity it brings, is brutal on our air conditioners. The season we call Monsoon usually strikes the valley between June and August. Sudden storms erupt bringing heavy downpours that account for almost half of our annual rainfall in a short period of time. All of this rainfall means high humidity levels, which your air conditioner just isn’t designed to remove. Sometimes the rainfall cools everything down and gives our air conditioning units a much-needed break. Other times the clouds linger, causing damp heat that creates a bigger load than your air conditioning was built for.

Guarding Your Home from Humidity During Monsoon Season

Humidity can creep into your home in many different ways, some of which can be destructive. A leaky roof, for example, can bring in moisture on the ceiling and walls, causing paint, drywall & insulation damage. Water pooling at the base of your home indicates improper outdoor drainage and can bring moisture in through your home’s foundation. This moisture can wreak havoc on the entire structure, flooring, and even furnishings. This type of moisture infiltration is fairly common during those nasty monsoon floods. All of these issues require more than a simple fix, you’ll need the help of a certified and licensed professional.

Aside from these more obvious issues, it’s important to note that humidity can also creep into your home in more subtle ways. Everything in your house that produces moisture can be a source of internal humidity. This includes faucets, showers, the stove, and believe it or not, even house plants. The best way to regulate these smaller sources of humidity is to ventilate with mechanical ventilation. After you shower, you should run your bath fan, or run the fan over your stove during and after cooking. Don’t over-water your plants, especially if they’re large or you have a lot.

In today’s very well sealed homes aka “tight” homes, whole-home mechanical ventilation may be required. The most common type of equipment used in the Phoenix area is an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) or HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). This type of ventilation system acts like your home’s lungs – bringing in fresh air and expelling stale air. The air is filtered and treated to remove impurities before being introduced into your home, resulting in cleaner indoor air.

Another way to guard your home from the common risks of humidity is to ensure effective weather-sealing throughout. Not only does this keep the humidity out; it also improves the efficiency of your home & air conditioning. Magic Touch Mechanical conducts thorough energy audits and can inspect, detect, and correct common moisture problems. We also help homeowners determine the best ways to optimize their airflow and improve operation of HVAC systems.

Protecting Your Air Conditioning from Humidity Fluctuations

To assure the Valley’s humidity changes don’t shorten the life of your air conditioning system, we can evaluate its size and how it’s installed. Most people think that running the air conditioner cooler will fix the discomfort they feel from excess humidity. This is true to a certain extent. The air conditioner may even cool you off temporarily, but it may not be able to overcome excess humidity in your home. This is especially true if your air conditioner isn’t big enough to handle the added load. Believe it or not, too large an A/C can actually remove less humidity than too small a unit. In other words, much like the children’s story, your air conditioner’s size needs to be “just right”.

A pre-summer evaluation and tune-up of your air conditioner will help it, and you, get through the hotter weather. Also decreasing the chances of problems caused by high temperatures or humidity that you now know overtaxes your A/C system.

If you are struggling with high humidity in your home, Magic Touch Mechanical will help you find comfort. All you have to do is contact us today!