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Mold in Your HVAC System: Causes, Signs and Prevention

When it comes to allergens that are prevalent in the indoor air, mold is one microorganism that has the capability to wreak havoc on not just the health of the household but also the efficiency and performance of heating and cooling systems. It multiplies in areas with a constant presence of moisture, including the HVAC unit itself. If not addressed, not only will it compromise the air we breathe but also poses a significant risk to the appliance’s longevity.

As a homeowner, it is important to understand the factors that promote mold growth and its impact on HVAC systems, as well as implement preventive measures to ensure a clean, healthy indoor environment. Cafco Services, one of the leading heating and air conditioner maintenance companies discusses further.

Mold and Its Impact on Your HVAC System

Mold is a type of fungus and a common indoor pollutant that thrives in warm, humid environments. Your heating and cooling unit provides the ideal conditions for its proliferation, as it circulates air throughout your living spaces while making sure temperature and humidity levels are in check. As soon as mold spores enter your HVAC system, it can spread around your home via ducts, vents and even the dirty air filters.

Apart from the fact that it affects your home’s indoor air quality, mold, together with other airborne pollutants, obstructs airflow. This, in turn, causes the HVAC to work harder than it’s supposed to, drawing more electricity that can impact the energy consumption of the household. Mold can also collect on the coils and other components, leading to corrosion, decreased performance, and even frequent breakdowns if not addressed promptly.

Factors That Allow Mold to Thrive in HVAC Systems

A variety of factors contribute to the growth of mold in air conditioners, heat pumps and other HVAC systems. Uncontrolled humidity levels are often a result of inadequate ventilation or presence of excess moisture coming from your home. Condensation also builds up in your ductwork or around the AC coils due to differences in temperature. Mold may spread further when there is dust and debris in the system. Taking too long before you give your HVAC system a thorough cleaning and maintenance also creates favorable conditions for mold growth.

Signs Your HVAC System Has Mold

It can be tough to detect mold within your HVAC unit, but there are a few signs to keep an eye out that may indicate its presence. These include:

  • Musty odor. That pervasive, unpleasant smell coming from the vents or anywhere around your home may signal mold growth.

  • Stains on walls or ceilings. Check the ceilings or walls near the vent openings. If you see dark stains, it means that there’s an ongoing mold infestation that requires immediate attention.

  • Respiratory problems. If you or some of your family members are continuously experiencing symptoms like coughing or sneezing, it’s possible that your home’s indoor air quality is not up to par. Mold spores could be circulating throughout your living spaces, contributing to allergy-like symptoms in your household.

  • History of water damage. The chances of mold growth within the HVAC system increased a great deal if you’ve recently experienced flooding or water damage in your home.

How to Prevent Mold Growth in HVAC Systems

Prevention remains the best way to combat mold growth in HVAC systems. The following are some of the tips to keep in mind to lower the chances of it happening and ensure a healthier indoors:

  • Regulate indoor humidity levels. Maintain a 30% to 50% humidity level in your home to minimize the growth of mold. Use a dehumidifier inside your basement or attic to get rid of the excess moisture in the air. Use exhaust fans when cooking food, taking a bath, or doing the laundry.

  • Clean or replace filters. Dirty filters usually have mold spores, hindering airflow through the HVAC unit. Make it a habit to check them according to manufacturer recommendations, though you may have to do it often depending on whether you have pets at home or have a loved one with respiratory conditions. Cleaning or replacing filters is key to maintaining optimal air quality and system efficiency and performance.

  • Inspect and clean ductwork. If the air ducts are visibly contaminated with substantial mold growth, get in touch with an HVAC repair technician to have them cleaned. Experts recommend scheduling this task every three to five years. Expect the pros to seal any existing gaps in the ductwork as well.

  • Keep the ductwork and pipes insulated. Doing this prevents condensation from forming and creates conditions for mold to thrive. Proper insulation helps maintain temperature differences consistent.

  • Deal with water leaks right away. Water leaking from your pipes, roof, or windows must be dealt with immediately. Delaying it further may expose areas of your home to mold growth, including the HVAC system. Dry affected areas thoroughly and ensure proper ventilation to discourage moisture buildup.

The Importance of Regular HVAC Maintenance

Regular HVAC maintenance is not just for preventing mold growth — it helps to optimize the system’s performance and extend its service life. Its components, including the coils, filters and ducts, must be thoroughly inspected and cleaned to ensure no dirt, debris or mold builds up further and promote cleaner and more efficient airflow.

In addition, investing in regular maintenance helps to detect issues early, including malfunctioning components and water leaks. With this, you won’t have to call your HVAC technician frequently and shell out more money than necessary just to have a recurring issue repaired. 

Trust Cafco Services!

Cafco Services is one of the top HVAC installation companies who also specializes in high-quality maintenance services. We are committed to ensuring the heating and cooling systems of our clients are in top shape year-round, which is why we offer comprehensive preventative maintenance programs. In our more than 70 years in business, it has been key to keeping homeowners and businesses in the local area comfortable. By keeping equipment breakdowns down and by promptly addressing problems before they become serious, we are able to ensure that you don’t have to deal with inconsistent comfort issues, business downtimes, and, more importantly, health issues caused by mold growth.

To get started, give us a call at (513) 242-3400, or fill out our contact form to request an appointment.