Mold And Your HVAC Unit: Everything You Need To Know
In most cases, when you need an AC repair, your HVAC system will show some signs of disrepair. For instance, it may not cycle on and off correctly, it may not turn on at all, or it may have other functional issues. However, there is one huge issue that may not affect the functioning of your AC at all—that's mold.
Wondering about the dangers of mold, how to diagnose mold and what to do if it appears? Here's what you need to know:
1. HVAC Systems and Mold
Your HVAC system is actually positioned to fight the presence of mold in your home. In addition to heating and cooling your home, your system is designed to handle ventilation, and when it's ventilating your home correctly, it helps keep humidity low. That in turn keeps moisture and mold at bay.
To ensure your system is venting correctly, you need to maintain those aspects of it. In particular, you should keep the outside unit clear of leaves and debris. You should also make sure that interior air vents are not blocked by clothing, furniture or other items. Finally, it's important to regularly clean or change the filter on your unit.
2. Signs of Mold
In some cases, the first signs of mold are visual. You may see mold on your ducts, around vents, or in the drip pans of your unit. In other cases, however, you may experience health issues long before you see the mold.
The symptoms start like cold and flu symptoms and may include runny noses, itchy eyes, aches and pains, and unexplained fatigue. However, unlike a regular cold, these symptoms keep reappearing. If your family is experiencing these symptoms, check the areas of your HVAC unit listed above, and see if they have mold. If you don't find mold on the HVAC unit, you may want to have a professional check the rest of your home for mold.
3. Getting Rid of Mold
If you can see the mold in your HVAC system, you can try to remove it yourself. Wear a ventilator or a dust mask to protect yourself through the process.
Start by making a disinfectant cleaner. For nonporous surfaces such as metal ducts, use one part bleach to 16 parts water. Alternatively, for carpet around vents or other porous areas, substitute borax for bleach.
Then, turn off the HVAC system and scrub the infected area until it's clean. Change out your rags often, and just throw them away when you're done. You don't want the mold infecting the rest of your rag supply.
The EPA recommends contacting a professional if you have more than 10 square feet of mold in your home. For instance, if your ducts are 12 inches high and they are covered with mold down one side of a 10 foot length of ductwork, that is the equivalent of 10 square feet, and you should call an HVAC specialist or a mold mitigation professional.
4. Preventing Mold
Once you've got rid of the mold, take some long term steps to keep it away for good. In particular, you need to reduce the presence of moisture around your unit. You may also want to talk with a repair professional about what techniques are best for your unit.
If your ducts are in a crawlspace or attic that tends to harbor condensation, consider putting a dehumidifier in these areas. Also, if a lot of condensation is occurring around the ducts, that generally happens because the ducts are colder than the air surrounding them. Insulating the ducts can help.
From a maintenance perspective, remember to change your filter as mentioned above, and also, keep the drip pans clean. Depending on the amount of moisture in your home, you may want to empty and clean the drip pans on a weekly or monthly basis. Check them regularly until you get a sense of how quickly the water builds up. For more information, contact companies like Always Ready Repair.