WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF MOLD IN MY HVAC SYSTEM AND HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A PROBLEM?
Mold is everywhere. It grows just about anywhere there is excess moisture. In the case of your heating and cooling (HVAC) system, that means the ductwork, AC evaporator coils, and drip pans are the perfect environments for mold growth. This is especially dangerous because when left unchecked mold can spread through the ductwork system and contaminate your entire home or office.
WHAT IS MOLD?
Mold is a fungus that grows in microscopic filaments throughout our environment. Mold spores float through the air, both inside and outside, and grow when they land in moist environments. These spores make up a large amount of dust in your household and workplace, which can cause health problems for you and your family.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT MOLD GROWTH?
Mold growth outside is natural and good for the environment. However, indoor mold growth can be dangerous, especially when it is located in your HVAC system’s ductwork, coils, and drip pans. Since ductwork circulates air throughout your homes, mold growth located in the ducts or around the entrances to the ducts could mean your family will be breathing unhealthy air.
While most molds only produce dust and allergens that can cause minor respiratory problems, itchy eyes, coughs, sinus problems, etc., there are some molds, such as black mold, that can cause more serious problems.
Molds that produce mycotoxins, known as “toxic molds”, can be extremely harmful to your family’s health. Daily exposure to these kinds of molds can cause brain issues and even lead to death.
Being aware of the warning signs of mold in the ductwork, evaporator coils, and drip pans will ensure your family is not breathing unhealthy air. Here are three easy ways to look out for mold in your home:
THREE EASY WAYS TO SPOT MOLD GROWTH
Look at your vents.
Whether it is in your ductwork, evaporator coils, or drip pans, looking for mold is the easiest way to find it. Make a habit of walking through your home and looking for signs of mold. If your home is usually humid, add this task to your weekly cleaning routine. If it is drier, make it a part of your monthly furnace filter inspection.
Look at all registers, visible ductwork, evaporator coils, and AC/furnace drip pans. Do you see mold? If not, that is great. But you may still be at risk.
Remember, mold grows in moisture. Is there pooling water that may encourage mold growth? Are any drains blocked? Do you see condensation on the outside of your vents? What about on the inside of your registers?
Conversely, coils dehumidify the air and drip the resulting condensation into drip pans. If those coils are working too hard or drip pans are blocked, then the resulting moisture becomes a perfect habitat for mold growth. Have your HVAC Technician visually inspect the coils and ductwork during routine maintenance service
Use your Nose.
What about the ductwork you cannot see? What if you cannot see inside registers or down the drain in drip pans? Use your nose! When mold grows in your ductwork, it gives off a strong mildew smell that spreads throughout the house.
If you suddenly start smelling mildew, try turning your system off, waiting 10 to 20 minutes, and then turn it back on. If the smell goes away — or gets weaker — when your system is off and comes back when you turn it back on, you may have mold in your ductwork.
Call a Professional.
If you do not see mold or smell it, you do not have a mold problem. Want to be 100 percent sure? Call an HVAC professional or mold specialist. While mold testing can sometimes be expensive, it is a good way to be completely sure ductwork is free of harmful mold.
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