Relative Humidity is part of indoor air comfort

Your Turn:  How come I’m comfortable with the air conditioning temperature but my husband keeps complaining that he’s still hot?   Maria, Fayetteville, NC

My Turn: To a green builder, your family’s comfort is a critical part of indoor air quality. It’s said Americans spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors so the environment inside your home better work for the family.

Truthfully there could be a handful of different causes working alone or even in concert to prompt your husband’s comment.

Since you have a crawl space, look to see if there’s any water under there.

It’s only the first week of June and already we’ve had ten humid days in the mid- 90’s so it puts a lot of stress upon your home’s mechanical system. My neighbor even remarked his electric bill was $300 last month!

Water is a by-product of the cooling process and your indoor comfort inside depends upon condensate water draining outside.

Water under your house not only causes you discomfort, it will age your home prematurely and cause you great expense!

Always remove the cause of water under a house as soon as possible.

A couple of summers ago we had similar discomfort complaints with a new HVAC system. Here’s what I saw in the crawlspace.

The air handler drain pan was cracked. (This happens more often than you think.) That puddle caused our relative humidity inside to spike to 70%+

You want 40 to 60 percent relative humidity for best comfort.

Take action if you see the following:

  • Signs of water: a puddle, or the ground looks like low-tide at the beach
  • The duct insulation (shiny & soft) is soggy and drippy
  • Your metal air handler is speckled with moldy patches or funny splotches resembling a bad spray tan.
  • Be careful not to let water from your sprinkler seep under the house too.
  • High ground water can be a source but since we’re in a mild drought, it’s not likely.

I recommend regularly scheduled seasonal maintenance for your HVAC system. Get your favorite HVAC Company to check the system twice a year: once in late spring (May) before cooling season and once in last fall (October) for heating season. Odds of avoiding problems later are better.

It’s understood they’ll check for proper coolant charging. If you have a split-system under your house, require them to blow out your condensate drain and check the pan for cracks.

Better yet, have them install a drain line alarm. That’s what we did.

Having an improperly sized and designed air conditioning system relative to your home can be a real problem too.  The correct automatic sensors and controls to maintain proper temperatures prevent the system from unwanted frequent short cycling on and off.

Keep the peace with your family – Get in the habit of periodically checking under your house. Water in your crawlspace is hazardous to your comfort and property.  I’ve had to replace the roof in a house that had standing water under it.

Been there, done that!

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June 30, 2011 at 4:27 pm

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