Balancing the Air: The Role of HVAC in Indoor Humidity Control

As you know, maintaining comfortable indoor humidity levels is crucial for health, productivity, and protecting your home or building. But if you live in an area with large seasonal swings in temperature and precipitation, balancing indoor humidity can be a real challenge! That’s where your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system comes in. At Comfort Systems, we specialize in designing, installing and maintaining HVAC systems that provide comprehensive humidity control along with heating and cooling. Here’s some information about key aspects of managing indoor air moisture levels and how the right HVAC equipment makes all the difference.

The Ideal Humidity Range

First, what’s considered a comfortable indoor relative humidity range? Experts including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, also known as ASHRAE, recommend keeping levels between 30% to 60% year-round. Drier air, below 30%, tends to dry out nasal passages, skin and furniture, while humid air, above 60%, promotes mold growth and dust mites. Pay attention if your indoor humidity goes outside the 30% to 60% for extended periods. It likely means your HVAC system needs adjusting to properly handle moisture.

Humidity Sources in Your Home

To control indoor humidity, you must first understand what introduces moisture. Major sources include outdoor humid air infiltrating leaks, activities like cooking and showering, and from damp basements or crawlspaces. In most climates, a tightly sealed home still sees humidity rise and fall significantly between winter and summer. Managing moisture means handling both seasonal outdoor conditions and indoor activities.

Managing Moisture Year-Round

In cooler months, infrared heat from radiators and furnaces warms cold outdoor air brought inside. As this air heats up, its relative humidity drops, potentially falling below 30% indoors. To counter this winter dryness, standalone humidifiers can moisten specific rooms. But a centralized whole-home humidifier integrated with your HVAC offers the best comfort and efficiency. The right system adds needed moisture without over-humidifying as outdoor temperatures change.

Summer brings the opposite scenario – hot, humid outdoor air infiltrating your home raises indoor humidity beyond 60%. If moisture isn’t removed, mugginess, sticky furniture and mold growth can happen. Here your cooling system’s air conditioner plays a starring role. Air conditioning equipment is designed to actively dehumidify as it cools. The key is proper sizing, installation and regular maintenance to ensure moisture removal keeps pace with summer heat and humidity.

Integrated Humidity Sensors

Here’s where sophisticated, modern HVAC equipment separates itself from outdated systems. The newest furnaces, air handlers and AC condensing units integrate humidity sensors in their onboard circuitry. Plus, smart thermostats also monitor indoor humidity from a central location. This enables the system to track moisture levels room-by-room and adjust operation to hit the 30% to 60% target. Cooling cycles run longer to remove additional humidity and specialized dehumidification modes activate when needed.

Demand-Controlled Ventilation

One often overlooked HVAC feature that assists humidity control is demand-controlled ventilation, more commonly referred to as DCV. DCV uses carbon dioxide sensors to precisely measure indoor occupancy. The system increases fresh outdoor air flow rates when CO­2 rises with more people present. However, when spaces are unoccupied, DCV slows ventilation to conserve heating/cooling energy. This smart adjustment helps block unwanted outdoor humidity entering your home in summer yet allows enough fresh air for occupants. Upgrade to an DCV-capable HVAC system for easier humidity regulation.

In indoor environments, too much or too little moisture causes serious issues like mold, high energy bills and discomfort. Thankfully, advanced heating and air conditioning equipment like the systems Comfort Systems offers make controlling humidity simple and effective. With humidity sensors, dedicated dehumidification and demand-controlled ventilation, your HVAC can strike the right moisture balance year-round while maintaining perfect temperatures. Contact us to equip your home with technology tailored to your local climate and humidity demands. Breathing easy starts with proper indoor air quality control.