In most areas of a home and under most conditions it will do both of those things very well, assuming the system is properly sized and the outside conditions are not extreme.
But there are places in a house where an air conditioner can’t do both of its jobs. In particular, we’re talking about basements. Since most of a basement’s walls are underground, it will stay pretty cool down there all summer without needing much air conditioning. But it also means they’re surrounded by damp soil which can get even wetter by things like gutters that overflow, ground that does not slope away from the house, dripping outdoor faucets, etc. This moisture wicks in through the block walls and increases the humidity level in the basement. Since the temperature is still fine, the air conditioner never turns on and its second job never gets done: remove moisture.
To fix this problem, most people add a dehumidifier. Often this is a free-standing unit with a hose running to a drain or a bucket that has to be emptied regularly to keep the unit working. The trouble is that the dehumidifier only works for the room that it’s in. What if your basement is sectioned off into multiple rooms? A better solution for this problem is a whole-house dehumidifier. This piece of equipment connects directly to your ductwork and dehumidifies all of the air that comes in through the returns. What’s especially good is that it can operate independently of your heating and cooling system. If it’s not hot or cold enough for the system to turn on but the humidity level has risen, the dehumidifier will turn on long enough to get conditions back to comfortable again. During installation, air gets connected directly to a drain so you score an extra bonus: you don’t have to remember to empty the bucket.
If you’ve been thinking your house seems a little mustier than it should, or you know there are rooms that are just too wet, call us. We’d be happy to come out, evaluate the situation, and help you decide if a whole-home dehumidifier might be just the answer you’re looking for!