Mold in Air Ducts is Not That Uncommon

It is hard to not hear about all the harmful effects mold can have on people and pets. The news is full of stories of people becoming very sick from breathing in mold spores. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about mold related illnesses is that they are often difficult to diagnose, sometimes taking years for the symptoms to show up. This means numerous doctor visits and lab tests and of course costs. If the cause of the illness is mold and the source of the mold is the person’s own home it is no wonder their condition doesn’t improve.

When people discover that it was mold in their air ducts that made them sick they are often puzzled to figure out how the mold got there in the first place. Mold requires moisture and many people are at a loss to figure out where the moisture could have come from. They hire plumbers to check for pipe leaks. They hire a roofer to check for roof leaks. Only to come up empty. This is not only frustrating but expensive.

Causes of Mold in Air Ducts

Mold needs moisture for form. What people may not realize is that moisture is involved in a properly functioning air conditioner. Part of the normal operation of air conditioners involves removing moisture from the air. It is this evaporation that creates cool air. Air conditioners are designed to safely handle the moisture that is removed from the air but the moisture removal system fail. Train tubes can leak or become clogged and systems deteriorate over time.

Somewhere on the outside of your home there is a tube or pipe that drains the moisture removed from the air by your air conditioner. During humid weather more moisture is removed from the air so there will be more water coming out the drain tube. If you notice less water coming out the drain pipe than normal it could be a sign that your air conditioner is not functioning properly. Either it is not removing as much moisture from the air or the system that removes the water is not functioning properly. In either instance it is wise to consult with an air conditioning repair professional.

Condensation within your heating and cooling system (including the air ducts and vents) is also normal and is caused when the temperature of air within the system is cooler than the dew point temperature of the surrounding air. Improperly installed systems, improperly serviced systems and malfunctioning systems can cause more condensation which can lead to mold and mildew in your air ducts.

A little understanding of how air conditioning systems work can help you realize that moisture is always present in their HVAC system. And where there is moisture there is the possibility of mold and mildew growth. Mold in your air ducts can lead to serious health problems and by the time you realize you have mold in your air ducts it is often too late as your family will have already been exposed to dangerous levels of mold.

Checking for Mold in Air Ducts

Mold can make your family sick if it is in either the air ducts or the air conditioning system. Mold is often hard to detect but to you can inspect the parts of the air ducts you can see with a flashlight and if you feel comfortable doing it you can take panels off your air conditioner to inspect it. You are looking for white or black (indicative of black mold) spots or specks on the surface of the ducts or components of the air conditioning system. Another tell tale sign that mold is present is an overly musty smell.

If you or your air duct cleaner finds something you think is mold it is best to get a third party opinion. The best way to verify mold is to stick the suspected substance on a clear piece of household tape and sending it to microbiology lab for testing. This costs about $50.

Treating Mold in Air Ducts

If you suspect you have mold in your air ducts or air conditioning system you should consult a professional air duct cleaner. An air duct cleaning service provider can help verify that it is mold and determine if your air ducts need cleaning. Getting rid of mold in air ducts requires not only determining the cause of the mold and fixing the cause but also killing the mold and cleaning it up. Air duct cleaning services have the proper training and equipment to kill and remove the mold without causing further contamination of your home.

An air duct cleaner may recommend using chemical biocides to kill the mold and prevent future outbreaks but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that little research has been conducted as to their effectiveness. Chemical biocides are regulated under by the EPA under Federal pesticide law and a product must be registered by the EPA for a specific use which will appear on the label.