Preventing Mold from Growing in Your HVAC System
Most people can easily identify mold by its musty, dirty odor. It’s not a favorable smell, so you don’t want it coming from your air ducts. Unfortunately, mold can grow in HVAC systems that are not adequately maintained by a local technician. This article will review where and how mold can develop in your HVAC system and some steps to prevent it.
Where Does Mold Develop in HVAC Systems?
You can find mold developing in HVAC systems in three main locations:
- The indoor unit of the air conditioner
- The drain pan
- The ductwork
These areas are ideal for mold growth because they are moist, warm, and have an ample supply of food in the form of dust. Such conditions are why HVAC maintenance is crucial in protecting the system.
How Does Mold Develop in Springdale, AR, HVAC Systems?
Understanding how mold grows in your HVAC system requires a basic understanding of how the system works. The indoor unit of the air conditioner contains a component called the evaporator coil. This piece cools the temperature of the air while simultaneously removing ambient moisture.
High-efficiency furnaces remove moisture from the air too. The excess moisture drips down into a drain pan and leaves your home through the condensate drain line when everything is working correctly.
However, dust and dirt can block the flow of the condensate drain line, causing moisture to drain slowly — like when your bathtub drain is backed up. If there is enough debris and enough warmth, mold will begin growing in your drain pan and other indoor unit parts.
Mold can spread throughout leaky ducts, too. Leaks create a space for mold spores to enter the system, and when coupled with dust and heat, the perfect environment is created to grow mold.
Keeping Mold at Bay in Your HVAC System
There are several ways to help prevent mold from growing in your HVAC system:
Clear the Drain Tubes
Mold can form in your HVAC system if the drain tubes are blocked. This is one of the most common causes that lead to mold growth. If you have a condensate drain tube, it must be linked to a drainage or catch bucket to prevent moisture from building up and causing a problem. A local HVAC service tech can clear the drain line for you.
Check for Openings
Mold can also cause problems with your HVAC system because it can enter anywhere besides the drain tube. Unconditioned air may enter through a return air duct or grill on the exterior of your home. If this happens, mold can creep into your HVAC system and lead to a breakdown and an HVAC repair. A tech can seal any unwanted openings.
Insulate the Ductwork
When ductwork is placed in unconditioned spaces, it’s the perfect space for mold to grow. You need to insulate any ducts running through unconditioned spaces. Insulation helps prevent moisture accumulation and creates less-than-ideal conditions for mold growth.
A local technician can help you prepare to insulate your ductwork if it’s not already done. This insulation can provide efficiency benefits, as it keeps your conditioned air cool on its journey from the AC unit to the various vents located all around your home.
Change the Air Filters
Another common issue that leads to mold growth is clogged air filters. An air filter has one job: to keep dirt and other particles from entering your unit. If it is blocked or clogged, there will be a lack of airflow, and the moist environment will lead to mold growth.
Air filters are checked during routine HVAC maintenance appointments and will help prevent mold problems. Contact your local technician if you need help learning how to change them yourself, as you should be changing your filter every three months — or even more frequently in some situations.
All air conditioners and furnaces require proper venting systems to help circulate the air throughout your home. If the vent is incorrectly installed or blocked, moisture cannot escape and will contribute to mold growth.
Identifying Mold in Your HVAC System
A heating and cooling specialist will be able to quickly identify mold during an HVAC maintenance or HVAC repair appointment. But there are a few signs you can look for so you know when to call a technician to your Springdale, AR, home:
Know Where to Look
Realistically, mold can grow anywhere in the HVAC system. However, knowing where the drain pain is will help you identify one of the most common places for mold development.
Trust Your Nose
The smell of mold and mildew is highly recognizable. If you smell it, trust your instinct. It’s probably mold, and you need to call to have your system inspected.
Be Wary of Atypical Allergies
If you’re having issues with your allergies or your family is sick more than usual, it could be more than the common cold. When something seems out of the ordinary, it could be mold in your HVAC system causing your sickness.
Keeping Your HVAC System Healthy
Even with proper training and regular work, keeping mold out of your HVAC system can be challenging. However, when you schedule routine HVAC maintenance with a qualified technician, you can rest assured that your system will run properly.
During a regular maintenance appointment, the local technician will flush out the condensate drain line to remove clogs and prevent future blockages. This flushing will also get rid of any debris that could contribute to mold growth.
Your entire unit and all ductwork will be inspected during this appointment, so the technician can determine whether mildew has begun forming in any places. Routine maintenance is essential to prevent mold and any other problems that could lead to a costly HVAC repair.
Prevent Mold Growth with Stith Plumbing & HVAC Maintenance
Mold in your HVAC system can lead to significant health issues for you and your family. Protect the ones you love by keeping up with routine maintenance appointments. This approach will not only prevent mold, but it will extend the life of your HVAC system and improve the quality of your indoor air.
Call Stith Plumbing & HVAC today to schedule your HVAC maintenance appointment.