How A/C Can Prevent Mold Growth In Humid Climates
The temperature in your home can affect you and your family’s comfort level tremendously, especially if you live in states with hot, humid summers like Maryland. However, living in such climates could have other consequences for your home and family, as humidity can contribute to mold growth. Fortunately, your air conditioner can prevent the growth of this fungus, while also keeping you cool.
How Temperatures and Humidity Contribute to Mold Growth
Mold needs certain conditions to grow, and unfortunately for those who live in hot and humid places like Maryland in the summer, the heat plus the humidity create a moist environment where mold and dust mites thrive, notes RSI. While the various types of mold have different minimum, optimum, and maximum temperature ranges for growth, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services indicates that many kinds of mold will grow well when conditions are between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit—the same temperature range we’re often comfortable in. Combine these temperatures with excessive moisture and you could have a mold problem in your home.
Health Problems Associated with Mold
While some people may not experience any reaction to mold, others can be highly sensitive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that mold exposure can lead to itchy or irritated eyes, wheezing, coughing, skin irritation, stuffy nose, and sore throat for people with a mold allergy. Those who are immune-compromised or who have chronic lung illness may develop a serious lung infection from mold. Mold can also trigger asthma symptoms in individuals who suffer from the condition.
How Air Conditioning Can Prevent Mold Growth
Your air conditioner can control the temperature and humidity in your home, which can prevent mold growth. During the hot, humid summer months, set your air conditioner to between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity in your house should not exceed 50 percent. While most modern air conditioners dehumidify as they cool, they do not independently control both temperature and humidity, so you may want to purchase a stand-alone dehumidifier for when conditions are especially humid, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Other tips for using your A/C to prevent mold include setting your A/C’s fan mode to auto because setting it to “on” can cause moisture produced during the air conditioning process to be blown back into your home, reports the Florida Solar Energy Center. If possible, you’ll want to disable this feature completely to maximize dehumidification, which can be done by a skilled HVAC professional. The servicemen will be able to set it up so the blower and compressor turn off at the same time.
Additionally, when you purchase an air conditioner, you should get one that has enhanced moisture removal. These units have a SEER of 14 or more. Make sure you buy one that’s the size you need. One that’s too big will fail to effectively remove humidity because the unit doesn’t reach its full capacity in the first three minutes of operation. When the system is oversized, it has a shorter on-cycle and therefore a shorter amount of time when moisture is removed.
Maintenance Is Key to An Effective Air Conditioner
Neglecting to regularly maintenance your air conditioner can prevent it from working effectively, which can lead to mold growth. For instance, the system can become clogged if air filters are not changed regularly, causing airflow to be obstructed. Filters should be cleaned or replaced at least once a month during the summer. You’ll want to call an HVAC technician once a year. A service professional can handle more complex maintenance, such as cleaning coils and checking that the condensation drains properly and that drain pains are free of mold. Simple precautions like these can prevent the cost of mold removal, as well as major repairs to your air conditioner.