Recently, during one of our sweltering, high humidity days in late August, a homeowner in Hopewell, NJ ventured down into his basement. What he found was not good. The air conditioning ducts had begun to ‘sweat” and water was dripping all over the floor. Condensation forming on the outside of air conditioning ductwork is a common problem here in New Jersey, especially with ducts in basements, crawl spaces, and attics since there areas are not cooled and have higher humidity levels. The air conditioned air pumped through the ducts cools the metal ductwork and when the warm humid air surrounding the ducts comes into contact with the colder surface, the ducts these spaces contacts the colder duct surface, it begins to “sweat” or form condensation. The cool metal ducts chills the surrounding air to a temperature below its dew point, and that causes the water vapor to condense into a liquid — just like water droplets that form on the outside of a glass of iced tea or soda on a hot humid day. Ductwork condensation can cause a number of secondary problems. It can lead to mold growth, damage insulation and drywall. Also, the condensation is an attractant for insects and rodents.
There are a few ways to stop ductwork condensation. Of course, you can simply raise the temperature on your thermostat, but there is a comfort issue — you may not be cooling your home as much as you’d like. It also helps to install insulating duct wrap to help insulate the ducts from the basement temperature. However, the best long-term way is to deal with the underlying problem that’s causing the duct condensation in the first place: basement humidity levels.
For this homeowner we installed a commercial-grade whole-house Sedona dehumidifier. These humidifiers are specifically designed to work in challenging environments like basements and crawl spaces. They are maintenance-free, turn on and off automatically with a built-in hygrometer, and there is no water tray to empty or overflow. For this unit, we installed a condensate pump that pumped the extracted moisture from the air directly outside. This dehumidifier will not only resolve the condensation problem with the air ducts. It will also improve the home’s indoor air quality with clean, dry air and get rid of the odors that often accompany humid indoor humid air.
This homeowner was pleased with our installation and happy that his basement water and moisture issues could be resolved all at once with an investment in a quality dehumidifier.