When it’s hot outside and your air conditioner is working overtime, you may notice some condensation on your ductwork. This can pose a problem for your home since this damp, cool environment is a breeding ground for mold and other harmful bacteria.
Condensation occurs when air is cooled below its ‘dew point’ temperature. Essentially, air can only hold so much moisture depending upon its temperature. The cooler the air, the less moisture it can hold. Thus, when your air conditioner works to cool the air in your home (essentially by removing the humidity, or moisture), the air becomes completely saturated with moisture and cannot hold any more. Any extra moisture in the air comes out in the form of condensation, and your ductwork is a very common place to notice it.
Why Ducts ‘Sweat’
Now, it is important to understand how condensation forms on your actual ductwork. Think of it like this: cold air is being forced through the ducts in your home, whether they are located in your attic, basement or otherwise. The air that is inside the ducts is much cooler than the air outside the ducts, and as the outside surface of the ducts is cooled, the humidity that is in the air outside of the ducts will start to form condensation. This is essentially water that is being taken out of the air and collecting on the ducts; leaving this problem unsolved can cause some serious issues since the water can drip onto the floor of the basement or, worse, onto your ceilings if the ducts are located in the attic.
Handling Sweaty Ducts
There are two different solutions for handling ducts that are prone to condensation. First, the surface of the ducts themselves can be warmed in order to prevent the condensation from forming. Second, the air that surrounds the ducts can be ‘dried’, and this essentially removes the humidity that causes the condensation to form in the first place. To keep the ducts warm, homeowners can add insulation to them. However, it is important to enclose the insulation in a vapor barrier in order to prevent mold growth on the insulation itself. To dry the air, homeowners can install whole-home dehumidifiers.
When the Air Conditioner Unit is the Problem
The air conditioner unit itself is very rarely the cause of condensation on ducts, but there are a few situations in which this should be considered. Some of the newer air conditioners actually make the air that flows through the ducts colder in an effort to remove more humidity from the home in a more efficient manner, but this only adds to condensation issues. Another thing to consider if you are noticing condensation on your ducts is the filter in your AC unit. If the filter is dirty, it restricts the airflow and results in air that is much colder than it should be.
If you are experiencing condensation on your ducts, then professional help is only a phone call away! Here at A Superior Air Conditioning, we can quickly pinpoint the cause, provide you with a solution and potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run.