How to Prevent Mold in Your HVAC System (and HVAC Mold Removal if it’s Found)
Finding mold growing in your HVAC system is a common complaint, especially if you live in humid environments. Mold can be a persistent problem, as mold in your HVAC system can reduce your indoor air quality and even make people in your home sick.
If you’re looking to take steps to prevent mold from growing in your HVAC or need to know how to remove it if you do find mold, the following information is a great place to start.
Is Mold in HVAC Systems Dangerous?
Mold in HVAC systems is dangerous since it compromises the quality of indoor air, which can result in various health issues. Mold in HVAC systems is especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or respiratory problems. Breathing in mold can cause inflamed airways, nasal congestion, and eye irritation. People who are allergic to mold can experience trouble breathing.
Certain types of mold like Stachybotrys chartarum (often referred to as black or toxic mold) can produce mycotoxins that are known to cause more serious health problems like eye infections and bleeding in the lungs. Prolonged exposure to these mycotoxins can have adverse effects on the nervous system, immune system, and other bodily functions.
Not all mold is black mold, and if the mold is fresh it may not yet be a major risk. But if you find mold, you definitely want to get it taken care of immediately.
How to Prevent Mold in Your HVAC System
1. Keep Your Home Well Ventilated
Mold grows best in humid environments. This means that one of the core ways to prevent mold in your HVAC system is to keep your home well-ventilated. Proper ventilation helps to remove moisture from the air, which can help to prevent mold growth. Make sure your home has adequate ventilation in all rooms, especially bathrooms and kitchens.
2. Use a Dehumidifier
If your home has high humidity levels, this can create an ideal environment for mold growth. Use a dehumidifier to help control the humidity levels in your home.
3. Use a High-Quality Air Filter
The other core component of preventing mold from entering your home through your HVAC system is undoubtedly using a high-quality air filter. A good air filter will trap mold spores and other pollutants before they can enter your HVAC system. Look for an air filter with a MERV rating of 11 or higher. Additionally, be sure to change the filter regularly. The more often you change your air filter, the less likely it is that mold will have a chance to grow. Most experts recommend changing your air filter every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter you use and the level of air pollution in your home.
4. Service and Maintenance
In addition to ensuring your home has good ventilation, keeping the air dry, and changing your air filters regularly, you can also reduce the chances of mold in your HVAC system through regular service and maintenance. Regular maintenance of your HVAC system can help to prevent mold growth, so have your system inspected and cleaned by a professional every year. This includes your ductwork as well — ducts can collect dust, dirt, and moisture, providing a breeding ground for mold. Have your ducts cleaned by a professional every 1-2 years, or more often if you have pets or allergies.
5. Inspect Your Condensate Drain Pan Regularly
Other issues to be aware of are how much moisture is directly within your HVAC system to ensure there isn’t too much. You or a professional should inspect your condensate drain pan regularly. This is routinely located at the bottom of your HVAC unit. It collects water that has condensed from the air as it passes through the unit. If the drain pan is not emptied regularly, the water can build up and create a breeding ground for mold. Check to ensure the drain pan is draining properly and isn’t accumulating moisture. Likewise, leaks elsewhere in your HVAC system can cause water damage and create a perfect environment for mold growth. Fix any leaks as soon as possible.
How to Check HVAC For Mold
The best way to check your HVAC system for mold is by visually inspecting your system, including the air ducts, vents, and filters. You can use a flashlight to look inside the ducts and check for any visible mold growth. You should also inspect your air filters, since it’s likely that mold spores have spread throughout your HVAC system if your air filters are moldy. Another way to checkyour HVAC for mold possibilities is by looking for any signs of leaks, pooling water, or excessive moisture around the unit. Signs of mold growth include black, green, or white patches and any musty or moldy odors.
For a comprehensive assessment, it’s best to enlist the services of a professional HVAC company. If you’re in the New Castle County Delaware, you can contact Burns & McBride to investigate your system. We’ve been helping Delaware residents for more than 70 years.
HVAC Mold Removal
Mold grows very quickly – it can take as little as 48 hours for it to start growing inside your HVAC system if it becomes contaminated. This means that even if your HVAC system has been cleaned and maintained properly, there’s always a chance you might end up with mold and require HVAC mold removal. In many cases, you can clean small portions of your HVAC system like a vent cover personally with the aid of warm, soapy water and a HEPA vacuum. Be sure to wear eye and ear protection and a facemask like an N95 respirator mask to prevent breathing in any mold spores.
If you have an extensive case, HVAC mold removal is best left to the professionals. There are several different options that HVAC contractors can use to remove mold from your system, such as mold removal foggers, treating ductwork with mold and mildew inhibitors, and cleaning the evaporator coils of your HVAC system using specialized equipment. The cost of these services isn’t necessarily going to be cheap, but with the health dangers posed by mold in your HVAC system being very real, it’s an absolute must to have your entire system cleaned properly in such a case.
Addressing Mold Removal and Prevention for Your HVAC System
In all but the driest and most arid environments, having mold growing in your HVAC system is a possibility that you should keep in mind. The biggest factor that contributes to the growth of mold is always going to be moisture, which means that one of the best ways to prevent mold in your HVAC system is to keep your home as free from excess moisture as possible. This does require some attention to detail on your part, as it means keeping your home well-ventilated and using a humidifier to keep the rooms in your home from being too damp.
The other component of keeping your HVAC system free from mold is good preventative care and maintenance. Be sure to change your air filter every 1-3 months and choose good, high-quality filters that will stop dust, allergens, and other particulates from entering your home. Have your ducts and condenser unit cleaned and serviced regularly by a professional and check for leaks and clogs in drain pans. The cost of this preventative maintenance pales in comparison to how much you’ll need to pay for full mold removal in your HVAC system, so in this case, an ounce of prevention is most certainly a pound of cure!