Cool but humid- what wrong with the AC?

I’m being a PITA for the building maintenance guys because it’s so humid on my floor. I have a digital thermometer & hygrometer on my desk just to prove my suspicions. The temperature is in the upper 70’s (usually between 78°-80°), which would be fine if it weren’t so damn humid (the hygrometer is saying 68% right now, but I’ve never seen it below 60%). The maintenance guy comes in and looks at the thermostat and wonders what is wrong with an office temperature of 78°.

According to the heat index chart, a temp of 78° combined with 68% humidity makes it feel like it’s in the low 80’s.

It is my understanding that a properly working AC system should be dehumidifying the air as well as cooling it, and I further assume that the AC is working because otherwise it would be an oven in here. So what could be wrong with the AC to make it cool the air but not dehumidify it?

A/C units do not explicitly dehumidify. They dehumidify as a consequence of cooling. When warm air is blown over the cooling unit, humidity condenses out as the warm air cools. This condensate is generally drained off (in window units it just drips off, outdoors). So your A/C unit is not cooling up to spec (it should be capable of temps much lower than 78F) and you may for some reason have really humid air coming in to start with. 68% humidity at 78F is not alarming, for outdoor conditions. Where do you live?

If you’re a renter, the landlord may not be legally obligated to make you any cooler, even if the A/C is not performing to its technical spec. Some jurisdictions specify the temperature that an A/C unit must cool to, 78 seems like it’s pushing it.

Possibly the drain for the unit is plugged, allowing the condensate to build up. If it’s a window unit, you may be able to make a quick visual check for water dripping (compare to properly working units to get an idea of a normal drip rate). If there’s moisture at the vents, I’d say it’s a pretty sure bet that the unit is not draining correctly.

The problem is most likely because you are on a lower level (or just in a really humid place. It can also be that the btu’s of the a/c are way too high (the a/c cools so fast it doesn’t get a chance to remove the humidity.

either way if your not flipping the electric bill the solution is very simple - get the a/c to run more - and a good way to do that is to heat the area with a space heater.

If this is a window unit, I would suggest popping off the front cover, and checking for ice. If the coils are iced over, it’s not gonna do much of anything. If that’s the case, let the fan run, with the compressor off until all the ice melts off. Also you have to remember that just becasue you don’t see ice anymore doesn’t mean it’s gone. If this is the case I’d say let the fan run overnight just to be safe (if your at a school, I’d imagine this wouldn’t be a problem). Then as long as you’ve got the cover off check and clean the foam filter with warm soapy water.

This is at work, not at home. I am on the top floor of a 6 floor office building that is so old it has danger signs all over warning that asbestos conatining materials may have been used in its construction. So it’s probably got cooling towers up on the roof, I guess. I’m in DC which is famous for its muggy weather, but I would still think that even a half-way decent AC system should also be dehumidifying the air.

I got my boss interested by mentioning that 68% humidity might not be the best place to keep millions of dollars in data switches & PCs.

Since my OP, one of my coworkers noticed that we are directly in front (within 20 feet) of the intake for the entire floor. I wonder if we’re just getting everybody else’s sweat vapors before it gets sucked into the intake.

That’s probably exactly what’s happening. Your getting the warmerst, muggiest, dirtiest(dusty) air. All your eqiupment would be a very good incentive to move to a different location. If that is the case I would say the building would have to be retro fitted with more intake vents through out the floor.

is the cooling system a forced air system?

if so it should be removing the humidity no matter what the temperature.

it all sounds like a gigantic maintenance problem to me and i would be looking out for legionnaires disease (not kidding)!