Mold in Air Ducts: Everything You Need To Know
It’s only in recent decades that the level of awareness regarding the danger of mold in air ducts and on walls in homes and businesses has risen to where it is now. So it’s pretty much common knowledge now that black mold, in particular, is toxic.
Its effects on people exposed to it vary from mild to severe symptoms. Also, its full effects on the human body are still being studied to gain a better understanding of them.
Signs Of Mold In Air Ducts
You can directly see molds
When the topic of mold comes up, for most people, the first thing that comes to mind is toxic black mold. But there are other types of mold, in colors that range from yellow to orange and even red, that can be equally as harmful.
So the first indicator that you have mold in your air ducts is that you can hopefully see it. Particularly if the air duct intake vent is close to a bathroom door.
You notice a musky smell
The steam from showering being sucked in can provide the moisture that mold in air ducts needs to thrive. But most of the time, you won’t be able to see mold in air ducts.
You will smell it. It’s that distinctive musty smell mold gives off that is the biggest red flag. It can be in carpets, mattresses, and even on the backside of sheetrock walls where it can’t be detected with the naked eye.
You suffer from allergies
But if you can smell mold, it’s there somewhere, and if it’s in your air ducts, that’s the worst place for it to be in your home. It’s being spread out through every nook and cranny of every room if it’s in your air ducts.
If this is the case, mold-related symptoms can develop if they haven’t already.
Mild to severe symptoms like plugged ears, ringing ears, cold and flu-like symptoms, and even vivid nightmares, to name a few of the more common indicators of mold in air ducts.
Once toxic mold in any form becomes established, it won’t go away on its own. It may increase or decrease depending on the climate and the season, but it will always be there, with the only solution being mold abatement.
Causes Of Mold In Air Ducts
You live in a warm and humid environment
Because you have air ducts does not mean that they have mold in them. Mold needs a combination of specific things to exist. The reason it’s so prevalent in air ducts is that they’re confined spaces.
Of course, when your system is on, and the air is blowing through, it’s not a suitable environment for mold growth. It’s when the system shuts off, and there is no airflow that your air ducts become ideal living quarters for toxic mold.
This is also why it’s often found on the backside of sheetrock, inside wall cavities with no visible sign inside a home. Then the dust and lint build-up in AC ducting provides an ideal food source for mold to thrive on.
Mold needs food, and you would be hard-pressed to find a source of food that it will pass up.
Open your refrigerator and see for yourself that anything in there left in a warm damp space will end up covered with mold. The same thing applies to the build-up in your air ducts.
There is one thing, though, that seems to promote the growth of toxic yellow, orange, and red mold, and that is mouse and rat excrement. Black mold does quite well on cloth and paper, and this is why it’s so commonly found on sheetrock.
It’s the paper on the sheetrock surface that the mold is growing on. But add in rat or mouse excrement, and it’s just like putting fertilizer on a struggling garden. It causes them to thrive with diversity.
You have leaking problems
The final ingredient that mold of any type needs to grow is water. It can be liquid water or ambient water suspended in the air in the form of humidity, but mold requires water to develop.
This is another reason air conditioning ducting makes such an ideal environment for mold growth. In a humid climate, the cold air in an air duct will cause water to condense on the outside surface.
Then in the winter, the reverse happens. The cold air on the outside of the duct will cause the warm air on the inside to condense on the inside surface of an air duct.
If a home sits on a raised foundation, then it’s likely that there is ductwork underneath the house, and that brings another level of risk. Rodents like raccoons and possums can tear at and pull down air conditioning ducts, causing them to be exposed to pooling water during storms. Then up in the attic, there is always the risk of roof leaks causing mold in air ducts.
Plumbing problems should also not be ignored. Call professional plumbers if you think you have leaks.
Why Leave Molds in Air Ducts to Pros
Amateurs can cause more harm than good
It can be tempting to have a go at applying your DIY handyman skills to the job of scraping and vacuuming your mold in air ducts. After all, there really can’t be much to it.
If you don’t have a shop-vac, they aren’t that expensive to buy down at your local hardware store. Plus, you might have some handy face masks floating around, leftover from the covid scare.
Before you put your thoughts into action, though, there are just a few things you may want to consider. The most important of them is you can end up making your problem worse, as you also damage your air conditioning system.
That handy shop-vac you may have laying around your garage just won’t do. This is because it doesn’t use a HEPA filter. This filter system is designed to trap microscopic particles, like mold spores.
So what you may end up doing if you go at it with a standard vacuum is actually covering the inside of your home and everything in it with toxic mold spores.
And that covid mask might help somewhat, but it’s nowhere near adequate. Mold abatement in an air conditioning system also involves working in your attic, and your attic is a difficult place to work.
All it takes is one misstep resulting in a foot through your ceiling, and any anticipated savings vanish into thin air.
Professionals have the expertise
You will have to learn AC installation on the fly while you’re doing your DIY mold removal project.
You certainly wouldn’t start in trying to rebuild the transmission in your vehicle for the same reason.
If you’ve gone through some training and worked in an automotive transmission shop, you’d have a good chance of achieving success. The same thing applies to HVAC.
No HVAC contractor in his right mind would turn a new hire lose to do a job on their first day at work.
Yet that’s what you’re proposing to do if you’re considering DIY mold abatement from your air conditioning ducts. Components need to be disassembled to access junction boxes and split connections, then put back together, so they stay intact.
It sounds easy on the surface, but there’s a lot to it. Like giving yourself a haircut. It might look easy as you face the mirror in the barber’s chair, but just try it on your own when you’re alone at home and see what happens.
It’s just not a good idea because leaks and faulty connections in air-conditioning systems are hard to find and difficult to fix, particularly while you’re crawling around in an attic.
Going DIY exposes you to molds
You will expose yourself to toxic mold. Not exposed mildly, either. You’re going to get fully dosed.
There is a positive side to this, though, and that is you will get to find out how your body reacts to massive exposure to toxic mold.
Keep in mind, too, that until you get into it, you don’t know what type of mold is in there.
Some of the orange and red varieties are more toxic than black mold. Exposure won’t end there, though, because don’t forget your vacuum will spread it throughout your house. That includes your bedding and carpets.
Take a look at a mold-covered sandwich, then ask yourself would you take a bite of it? Of course not. You would be out of your mind to do something as foolish as that.
Yet when you consider removing mold in air ducts, you’re considering doing just that; only worse. Toxic mold is nothing to play around with. So the best advice that you can get from a professional is if you have mold in air ducts, leave it there.
That presents a lower risk than climbing up in your attic with a standard vacuum hose and air mask and doing it yourself.
Some people have never fully recovered from heavy exposure to toxic mold. So if you want to gamble, go to a casino where you don’t have to gamble with your health.