HVAC systems usually help you breathe easier. They maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, and they filter outdoor and indoor air pollutants and allergens. However, air conditioners can also cause respiratory issues and other health problems when mold grows in them. Here’s everything you need to know about mold in your air conditioner and how to prevent HVAC mold in Albuquerque.
Why HVAC Mold Grows — and How Quickly
Your HVAC system is prime real estate for mold spores. Even in well-maintained HVAC units, the conditions for mold are right: As the system works, it creates condensation, which never completely evaporates. In these conditions, moisture-loving mold spores floating in the air can begin growing. When the outdoor air is humid after heavy rainfall, such as during Albuquerque and Santa Fe’s monsoon seasons, can make your air conditioner even more attractive to mold. If your HVAC unit has poor ventilation, mold will take root more easily.
Mold can get established within 48 hours, and, once it does, it grows quickly. It may grow on your condenser coil or duct work. When mold is present in your HVAC system, any air that passes through your system can collect mold and distribute it through the rest of your home.
Detecting HVAC Mold
Because you’re probably not inspecting your HVAC unit daily, mold spores can go undetected for long periods of time. Here are three telltale signs you have mold in your system:
- Musty or mildew odors
- Black dust building up around air vents
- Visible mold in your HVAC system or around your residence. Mold may appear black, brown, green, white, pink, yellow, or orange.
Health Risks Behind HVAC Mold Inhalation
Even among healthy people, mold may cause respiratory symptoms such as a “stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who have respiratory conditions, allergies, asthma, or who are immune compromised may get lung infections from mold. Living with mold in your HVAC system “would increase your chances of having a respiratory infection,” Mark Mendell, Ph.D., an affiliate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told Consumer Reports. Small children and pets are particularly susceptible to these health threats.
How to Prevent HVAC Mold in Your Home
Here are a few ways you can maintain your HVAC system at home to prevent mold from growing:
1. Clean or replace your HVAC filters regularly.
HVAC filters will purify the air entering your system by removing dust, bacteria, viruses, and mold. With fewer spores floating in the air, mold is less likely to start growing. When HVAC filters are clogged — which can happen easily in our high desert environment — they can’t work efficiently to clean the air. Additionally, when filters are clogged, air can’t flow efficiently leading to stale air within your system, another condition attractive to mold.
2. Insulate air ducts to help reduce condensation.
Air ducts can be havens for mold. They may contain large amounts of moisture. By insulating ducts, you may be able to avoid condensation build up that promotes mold growth. Additionally, dirty ducts can also contribute to mold growth, so cleaning your ducts regularly can keep mold at bay.
3. Check and clean your condensate/drip pans.
All HVAC systems have drip pans that collect condensing water. If they are not cleaning regularly, the standing water can accumulate and promote mold growth. Cleaning and disinfecting these pans can stave off mold.
4. Prevent moisture build up from leaks.
Leaking HVAC systems and within duct work can introduce more mold spores to your environment. Detecting and fixing leaks is a key step in preventing HVAC mold in Albuquerque.
5. Check the air intakes.
If you have organic material — such as weeds or other plant material — accumulating around your system’s air intakes, you’re more likely to draw in microbes and other contaminants. Keep the area around your HVAC system clear so air can flow freely. Also remove dumpsters or trash cans, places where standing water can collect, and animal droppings whether from wild birds or your family pets.
If you discover mold, it’s best to contact a professional. They will need to remediate the mold while wearing personal protective equipment to avoid harmful health effects.
How Aztec Mechanical Can Help
Our expert technicians maintain a variety of home and commercial heating and cooling systems. We can remediate mold and help you prevent it from growing through regular maintenance services. Contact us today to get started.