3 Ways to Stop Mold Growth in Your Ducts and Other Areas of the Home
July 29th, 2016 by THS
The air ducts that snake unseen throughout your home can build up with dust and dirt over the years; while this is normal, you may want to have your ducts cleaned as needed, especially if you suspect mold growth. The need for cleaning will depend on your climate, level of contamination and the size of the system. Duct cleaning is basically the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, drip pans, fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing, according to the EPA.
Effects of Mold
If not properly installed, maintained and operated, contamination of dust, pollen, or other debris can occur. Add moisture to the equation and you could end up with microbiological growth such as mold — the spores of which can be released into the home’s living area. Mold can cause allergic reactions, coughing and wheezing, and other upper respiratory symptoms upon exposure. You may already know mold can proliferate in other damp areas of the home such as crawl spaces, bathrooms and basements. But mold can also grow in your air ducts. Most forms of mold are relatively harmless, but toxic black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is much more serious and can lead to chronic fatigue or headaches, chronic coughing, fever, sneezing, rashes, and irritation to the mucous membranes.
As a homeowner, you don’t have control over everything — least of all mold — but there are steps you can take to minimize its presence and likelihood of flourishing. Try these approaches:
- Nix the clutter.Go through your home and make sure you don’t have a lot of junk that could be blocking the air flow. This type of blockage could prevent your HVAC system from properly circulating air, and stagnant air combined with dark conditions can welcome mold growth. Look for drapes that be blocking supply grilles, which can bring about condensation. Keep furniture such as couches away from those vents.
- Keep an eye on humidity levels.When the days get humid, keep the AC and fans going, and use a dehumidifier to keep moisture at bay. An indoor humidity monitor is relatively inexpensive but will alert you to fluctuations in humidity that could prove detrimental to your ducts. You want to make sure your moisture levels are always between 35% and 50%, or up to 55% if you live in an extremely humid area at the height of the summer, says House Logic. If you hit more than 70% relative humidity, mold can start growing.
- Make sure your AC is working the way it should.When the relative humidity reading goes about 60%, it’s time to troubleshoot your AC system. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the system cycle on and off all day?
- Are you setting it to the right temperature (too high and moisture could develop; too low and water vapor can condense)?
- Have the coils been cleaned lately?
- Is the condensate drain pipe dripping regularly?
Contact Thornton Heating Services
If it’s been awhile since your AC systems has been inspected or you would like to schedule a duct cleaning, contact us today if you live in the communities of North Shore Suburbs, Northwest Suburbs or Chicago Gold Coast & Near North.