Why isn’t my Air-Conditioning cooling properly?
Phew, it’s been a hot one so far this year, well actually, the temperatures have been pretty constant in comparison with other years, but I think many would agree it’s been unbearably humid. We have seen clouds on most days throughout the summer in Paphos whereas we would normally see just blue skies. So what effect does this have on your air conditioning systems?
A customer of mine once commented to me that her air conditioning was not working properly, and ‘definitely not working as well as her units were in Saudi Arabia’. after the obvious check over to see that her units were indeed working OK I then proceeded to explain to her that humidity had a big part to play in the efficient cooling of a room.
So why does humidity have this effect? It’s all about a phenomenon called ‘latent heat’ or ‘hidden heat’ as it is sometimes called. This occurs when water evaporates, the energy taken to evaporate water is stored in the water vapour (Steam) produced.
As a very crude example, let's say you have filled your kettle for your morning cuppa and it took 1000watts of electricity and five minutes to bring the kettle to the boil that 1000 watts are temporarily stored in the ‘water’ until the kettle goes cold (or indeed your cuppa does). what would happen if you let the kettle boil on (not easily done) until it went dry, where would the energy go and how long would this take to happen? Well, it would take roughly ten times the energy and time to boil the kettle dry, and the energy taken to do this will have been transferred into the water producing steam ( humidity) and stored in the vapour until it re-condenses back into water.
Latent heat cannot be measured by a thermometer but the heat is there and your body feels it, usually causing constant perspiration, and relief usually comes in the form of an air-conditioned room.
So where does the heat within humidity come from?
Cyprus has the Mediterranean surrounding it, this huge body of water is being heated mostly in summer simply from the suns energy but in truth, there are many things producing humidity from man-made engines to plants and animals, and even volcanic events.
So why does this affect my air con I hear you say? Well, your ac unit has two jobs to do, the first is to remove the humidity, and only then can it cool the room as its second job. Remember it took roughly ten times the energy to produce the humidity so, in theory, it will take ten times the energy to remove the humidity turning it back into water.
We are often called out to attend to ac units that are pouring water out of the front of the unit, this is the result of a good working unit, but that water should be flowing down a drain and not your walls a professionally installed and serviced unit will drain this condensation away efficiently. Unfortunately most so-called ‘service engineers’ only brush the filters and spray some antibacterial spray all for €20 each and to be honest a bottle of antibacterial spray would only cost you a fiver at super home, you could, in theory, do that yourself and a lot cheaper ( sorry this a pet hate of mine) but a true engineer will test, and unblock the drain if needed as part of the annual service and if you find a really good one they will also add a drain treatment to keep the drain clean saving you a further call-out fee.
Sorry I have digressed from the main subject. So the effect of humidity on an air conditioning system is huge, high humidity causes poor cooling and higher power consumption also producing lots of water.
Put in a nutshell your ac units will work hard to remove the humidity first, and then, they will start to cool the room.
See you next time.
By Steve Holloway on behalf of Cyprus HomeCare for Cyprus living
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