Mold in Your HVAC System?
Mold can take its toll on your heating and cooling system. The only time that mold is a serious issue, however, is when there are clear visible signs of mold or strong odor while your HVAC system is operating. Areas to check for signs of mold include air ducts, cooling coils, drip pans, and intake vents. When there’s an obvious odor of mold without any visible signs of mold, a professional needs to inspect your system to determine the source of the mold.
Removing Mold from Your HVAC System
While major mold problems should be handled by a professional, small areas of mold can often be taken care of with a good cleaning. With a little prep work, you can usually take care of visible instances of mold yourself as long as there are no other signs of hidden mold, especially any lingering odors.
- Select a Cleaning Solution – The EPA recommends a simple blend of household detergent and water. Baking sold or a borax solution of a gallon of water for every cup of borax can also be effective.
- Take Safety Precautions – Depending on the cleaning solutions you select, you’ll want to take some safety precautions before getting started. This typically includes a respirator, air mask, safety goggles, and rubber gloves.
Apply and Scrub – Apply your selected cleaning solution to the places where you see the mold with a spray bottle or damp rag. Let the solution set for a few minutes before scrubbing in a circular motion. Wipe the area with a paper towel or dry rag. Repeat this process until all areas with visible mold have been cleaned. Check for signs of mold over the next few weeks after cleaning.
Preventing Mold Regrowth
Improving circulation around your HVAC system, either through open windows or a fan, can help reduce condensation that causes mold growth. Air filters should also be changed on a regular basis, usually every 2-3 months. Another option is to insulate your air ducts and cooling coils, if possible, to reduce condensation. Pleated media filters can also keep your coils clean and prevent additional mold growth.
Note: Check coils and drip pans occasionally to prevent moisture from collecting to create an optimal environment for mold.
How to Know If Your Ducts Need Cleaned
If you suspect mold in your air ducts, let your system run for about 10-15 minutes. After the system has been running, take a spore trap test at at least two vents in your home while the unit is operating. Inspect the insulation inside of your AC unit. If you see lots of black, tape test since this could indicate a certain type of mold. Additional testing spots include:
- The surface of AC coils
- Under vent covers (avoiding areas with a lot of debris or dust)
- Inside of an air duct (on the top surface)
Additional options for HVAC mold removal include whole house dehumidification and hiring a cleaning service. If there’s still mold within the AC or heating units of your HVAC system, however, duct cleaning isn’t going to be all that effective. According to EPA guidelines, you only need to do an extensive cleaning when you know for sure there is a mold contamination. Regular system maintenance, however, is still necessary to ensure that everything is operating efficiently.
Tim Smith writes for Modernize, a website helping homeowners to create and maintain the home of their dreams.