Mold, also known as mildew, is one of the most silently hazardous fungi in the world.
These can both cause a variety of health problems to animals and humans. Not only this, they spread at the speed of light and can even go unnoticed for months on end.
Unfortunately, these fungi can travel into your home through your front door or windows. They make themselves into all the nooks and crannies in your home and stay there until they get so problematic that you notice them.
But, by then it’s normally too late, they’ve already done their damage.
Because mold often becomes active in dark and damp areas of your home such as your attic or basement, you may not even know that you suffer from a mold problem.
In addition to this, mold can make its way into your air ducts, HVAC system, ductwork, and vents.
With this in mind, knowing how to identify and remove mold from air ducts is essential if you want to keep yourself and your family healthy.
Below are the answers to the most common questions regarding removing mold from air ducts.
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I’ve Got Mold In The Air Vents In My Home What Do I Do Now?
Removing mold in air vents can be very challenging. While many still opt for using ozone, research suggests that this method is detrimental to your respiratory system and can cause just as much damage as the mold itself.
Before you do anything at all, you need to make 100% sure that the substance you believe to be black mold is in fact that. This is because the process of removing mold from air vents is not only time-consuming but very costly.
If you do have mold in your air ducts, the best thing you can do is call in the professionals. A mold remediation expert will first inspect your home and take the appropriate steps to find out where all the mold is in your home and remove it.
Is Mold In My Air Vents A Health Hazard?
The short answer is yes, very much so. Exposure to a mold infestation can cause respiratory problems that can lead to chronic coughing, sneezing, as well as nose and throat mucus.
In addition to the above, you may find that your eyes get very irritable, and your skin may start to swell and rash.
Others suffer from chronic fatigue when exposed to too much mold and there are also people that develop chronic headaches and migraines.
While these symptoms may seem very mild, an overexposure to mold can cause allergic reactions. These reactions can be life-threatening.
They include internal bleeding from the lungs and nose bleeds. You may suffer from nausea or even severe vomiting.
What Causes Mold To Grow In My HVAC System?
Mold grows in dark and moist areas which is why you’ll often see first signs in places like your bathroom, especially if you do not have very good ventilation.
Other common areas for mold include attics, basements, and in cabinets with sinks.
Of course, one of the most common places where mold grows is in your HVAC system.
This is because there is a high level of moisture and condensation. These two factors come into play most commonly during the summer months of the year.
Learn more about mold remediation from our blog.
When you use the air conditioning during the summer months, water vapor can make its way inside the air ducts. If the area where you live is very humid, the water will stay stuck in your system instead of evaporating like it normally would.
As external particles continue to travel through your air ducts, dust gathers, thus becoming a feeding ground for mold. Mold feeds off organic materials, allowing it multiply at an exponential rate.
How Can I Tell If I Have Mold In My Air Ducts?
One of the most obvious ways to know if there is mold in your air ducts is to take a closer look at your vents and drip pans. If you see mold in or around either of these, you most likely have a mold problem.
Another way to find out if you have mold in your air ducts is by having a good sniff. If you smell mold in your home, you most definitely have a mold problem.
If you just want to be safe, you can go up to your air ducts and breathe in to see if you can smell anything unusual.
These signs are early signs of a mold or mildew infestation and should be examined by an expert immediately in order to quarantine the situation.
What Are Signs Of Black Mold In My Air Ducts?
While mold and mildew are very similar they do have some striking differences. Mildew is normally grey or slightly green and lies on the surface. This means that it can be wiped off with some cleaning detergent and a cloth.
Mold, if left untreated can turn black, making it particularly dangerous and toxic. Black mold can release spores as it feasts on materials that are organic, for example, carpet, drywall, and insulation.
Unfortunately, the easiest way to find out if you have black mold in your air ducts is by looking inside them.
You may also find that the problem has gotten so bad that it has spread to the wall your air duct is attached to. It is not unusual to be able to smell mold.
If the problem is deep inside your vents, you may not know it is there. Sometimes, it takes you or your family getting ill to find out that you have a black mold infestation in your home.
The more severe symptoms mentioned above are all associated with black mold.
How To Clean Mold Out Of Ductwork And Vents?
Now that you know everything you need to know about identifying mold and black mold in your air ducts, it’s important that you learn how to fix the problem.
If your mold problem is significant, you should call in the professionals to take a look before you start cleaning out your air ducts.
The professional should test for mold throughout the entirety of your home. This person will also tell you if there is a presence of black mold.
If your home is not infested with black mold, the test is still worth doing as it will tell you if the concentration of mold and mildew in your home is too high.
If you believe your mold problem is containable, here is a step by step guide that you can follow to clean the mold from your ductwork and vents yourself:
Find A Good Mold Removal Agent
There are a number of solutions you can use to clean mold. The easiest and most cost-effective is to use household detergent mixed with water.
If you want something a little stronger, combine a tablespoon of detergent with half a cup of baking soda and one cup of water to make your mixture.
Another option is to combine one part bleach or one part borax with one gallon of water. On the other hand, if you don’t mind splashing the cash a little, you could purchase a commercial mold removal product.
As you can see from the side effects mentioned above, mold is very toxic and cleaning away mold from such confined spaces should not be taken lightly.
Not only this, you’ll likely be using chemical-based solutions to address the problem and therefore should do everything in your power to reduce your exposure to all of these.
First and foremost, always wear a N95 mask to undertake any job that involves mold. Because mold can enter through cracks in the skin, you should also use rubber gloves. We suggest you also wear coverall and protective eyewear.
You should either dispose of or bleach all of these once the job is complete in order to reduce the chances of any further contamination in your home.
Turn Off Your System And Vacuum The Mold
Now that you have protected yourself and prepared your cleaning solution, you need to apply it to your vents. You can even let it sit for a couple of minutes to make the scrubbing away part of this job that little bit easier.
Make sure that you scrub off all the mold and use a towel that can be disposed of to wash away any leftover mold and solution.
Once you have cleaned the area, vacuum your vents as well. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until all the mold is gone.
Destroy The Evidence
Once you’ve cleaned everything, bag all your clothes, gloves, respirator, and anything else that was used to clean away the mold.
Dispose of these as quickly as possible. You should also dispose of your furnace filters if these were affected by mold.
Use a Commercial Mold Inhibitor
These inhibitors can stop mold from growing back in your vents and ducts.
Only purchase a product that is EPA-registered and apply it to the entirety of your air vents while following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Maintain Your Vents
Now that you have tackled the problem, it is essential that you keep a close eye on it in order to stop the mold from growing back.
While mold in these areas is not unusual, if you notice it coming back within 48 hours, the likelihood is, you have a damp problem.
Use a dehumidifier and make sure that your ductwork is properly insulated before calling in the professionals. If the problem persists, call an expert to identify why the mold keeps on growing back.
How To Clean Mold From Air Conditioner Vents And HVAC Systems?
While you can clean mold from your air conditioner vents and HVAC system using the method above, there are certain factors you need to consider when undertaking the job yourself, these are:
Reach All The Different Components
If you do not reach all the different components in your air conditioner vents or HVAC system, you will not eliminate all the spores, thus giving them the time and space to grow back within just a couple of days.
A Cloth Or Mop Won’t Do The Trick
While many just wipe away mildew and mold hoping that it does the trick, the mold will grow back.
In order for the problem to stay contained, you have to eliminate all the spores by using a killing agent. All the solutions mentioned above will get the job done if applied correctly.
Replace Your Insulation Vents
While the above do-it-yourself solutions are great at fighting mold, if you have insulated vents, the spores will likely not all be eradicated.
To ensure that all the mold is gone you may have to totally replace your insulated vents.
Inspect Your System Carefully
Once you have cleaned your HVAC system and replaced the parts that require replacing, you need to undertake a full inspection.
This means the inside of your heating system or furnace must be checked as well as the coils in order to ensure that all the mold has been remediated.
Call In The Professionals If You Suffer From Black Mold
If you have a black mold problem, DIY solutions will likely not do the trick. In this case, you should ask for professional help.
A mold remediation professional will have all the necessary products and cleaning tools to get rid of your mold problem.
Not only this, professionals know how to remove and replace the adequate parts to ensure your whole system is spotless.
This process will eliminate the chances of cross-contamination, meaning that black mold will not spread to other areas of your home.
In addition to all the above, an expert will be able to tell you how to avoid this problem from occurring in the future, thus saving you money while also allowing you to keep your family safe and healthy in the long run.
Resources CDC Wikipedia