Understanding the Dangers of Mold and Mildew in Your HVAC System

You may know how to deal with mold and mildew in your kitchen, bathroom, or other rooms in your home. However, mold and mildew can also be a problem lurking in your HVAC system. Every time your HVAC system turns on, thousands of microscopic mold spores travel through the air ducts of your home and circulate through the air, where they are easy to inhale and nearly impossible to spot. The presence of mold in your HVAC system can cause several health problems by compromising the cleanliness of the air in your home. Fortunately, by recognizing the steps necessary to spot and prevent mold, you can eliminate this hazard before it does any lasting damage.

As experts in the HVAC industry, we’ve prepared this easy guide to help you understand how mold and mildew develop, how you can spot them, and what you can do to prevent their growth.

Where do mold and mildew come from?

Mold and mildew develop in HVAC systems for two primary reasons: the presence of moisture, and the presence of nourishment that enables the mold to grow.

The moisture comes from the condensation present in air ducts. When your home is warm, water vapors can form and collect in air ducts as cold air makes its way through them. If high levels of humidity are present, the water will remain instead of evaporating—creating a breeding ground for mold.

With enough water present in the air ducts, outside particles such as dust can settle in the water. The combination of organic and inorganic materials provides mold and mildew the necessary nourishment it needs to grow, multiply, and travel throughout the duct system.

The environment created by an air conditioning system turning on and off also contributes to the spread of mold. When the air conditioning system turns on, the mold spores can travel from the ducts and into the air circulating throughout your home.

Side effects of mold

The real danger of mold does not come from the impact on your HVAC system, but the effect on your health. The presence of mold in your home can cause health problems for you and your family, particularly if someone in the household has asthma or allergies.

The side effects of mold exposure can vary depending on the number of spores inhaled, and can include:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Asthma attacks
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Although mild cases of mold in your HVAC system are not likely to cause health problems, it is still important to address the growth of mold before it becomes severe.

Signs of mold and mildew in your HVAC system

Mold and mildew may be difficult to identify, since the signs resemble many common issues. The signs are easily concealed until the problems become severe. Below are a few key signs of mold and mildew growth in your HVAC system:

  • Strong smell or musty odor
  • Visible mold around air ducts or intake vents
  • Noticeable leaks or puddles around HVAC system
  • Coughing, sneezing, or congestion

Because the signs of mold and mildew are not always clear, the only way to know for sure is to have your system inspected for signs of mold by a qualified professional.

How to prevent the growth of mold and mildew

It’s only natural that, as a homeowner, you would want to keep your home and your family safe by preventing the growth of mold and mildew. By taking an active role in the prevention of mold and mildew growth, you can keep the air in your home free from these potentially hazardous particles.

Upgrade filters

Filters are your first line of defense against mold and mildew. If you haven’t already, make sure you’re using only the latest high-efficiency particle absorber, or HEPA, air filters in your home. These filters are rigorously tested to ensure they can effectively filter out and dissipate harmful particles including dust, mold, and other allergens. They do so by forcing the air blown by your air conditioner through a thin mesh layer that traps particles while still allowing a maximum flow of clean air into your home.

Along with upgrading your filters, ensure that you clean or replace them at least every 60 days. If you’ve had problems with mold and mildew in the past, you may want to replace your filters every 30 days instead. With clean, efficient filters, you can breathe easy knowing that any mold and mildew in your HVAC system will be unable to pass from your air ducts into your home.

Regular maintenance

The key to keeping your HVAC system in good shape is a bi-annual maintenance call with a qualified technician. If your system is regularly maintained, any signs that point to mold and mildew, such as leaks and pools of condensation, can be addressed before the problem becomes bigger than it needs to be.

At Chas Roberts, our comprehensive 26-point maintenance plan provides homeowners with the peace of mind that their system has been inspected from top to bottom. While other companies only check for surface level problems, we go deeper into the system itself to keep everything in good working order. This enables your system to function properly and can inhibit the growth of mold and mildew by eliminating the conditions they need to survive.

Professional duct cleaning

To prevent the growth of mold and mildew, it’s important to target the environment where these substances often thrive—your air ducts. We recommend having your ducts cleaned by a professional every three years. A thorough duct cleaning may take several hours, but the benefits make it well worth it. Not only will this cleaning remove any dust, dirt, and debris that could impact how well your ducts circulate air in your home, it will also remove any visible traces of mold and mildew that are present. A duct cleaning will also make your ducts an environment where mold cannot easily grow in the first place, reducing the risk of spores developing and spreading.

How Chas Roberts can help

At Chas Roberts, we’re no strangers to the risks and dangers caused by mold and mildew in your HVAC system. We do our part to keep the air in your home clean and safe for your family by offering system maintenance and the industry knowledge that comes from more than 75 years of experience. Contact us today if you suspect you may have a problem caused by mold and mildew.