Mold the stubborn intruder

The smart homeowner’s checklist for a mold-free home

  • Always ask for mold testing first. Professional mold removal and prevention services offer laboratory analysis of samples taken from air ducts. At times, the collection of dust and cobwebs can look like mold. The only way to confirm an infestation is to run a conclusive test.
  • Get to know your HVAC system. Find out the primary material of your ductwork. It can be fiberglass, flex duct or metal sheet. The cleaning methods and the charges usually vary depending on the duct material type.
  • The air duct cleaning services should always follow the National Air Duct Cleaning Association’s standards for the procedure. They should use EPA registered/approved products and processes for the effective removal of mold.
  • Ask for references and client testimonials from service providers. A reputed HVAC mold removal service provider should be able to provide more than enough satisfactory and genuine client reviews and recommendations from their previous stints.
  • Request frequent and periodic inspection of ducts and vents to prevent mold buildup. Mold problems can be recurrent. Ask for professional HVAC tips that can help you keep your indoor air clean in the future. Services should include yearly inspection of the cooling and heating systems along with the placement of moisture prevention systems within the HVAC.

Keeping your home clean is easy, but keeping the air inside your house fresh is more than challenging. It is a huge responsibility to ensure that the air you and your loved ones are breathing is free of harmful particles, VOCs, and mold. With the persistent humidity, warmth and water buildup, it is easy for fungus to find a home within your abode. You must be vigilant to keep this uninvited guest out of your home to ensure the proper health of your family and pets.

For over a decade EE&G Air Conditioning Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing have been the leading service provider near you for HVAC services such as air duct cleaning, a/c, and heating system repair and installations.  For any other information on how to get rid of mold in air ducts please contact us for a free consultation.

Mold the stubborn intruder

Mold the stubborn intruder: What is the cause?

Mold the stubborn intruder: What is the cause?

In most cases, homeowners can most efficiently remove the mold form visible areas. However, molds spread through spores, and the presence of a small colony can lead to a re-infestation in no-time. Mold problems in HVAC systems and subsequent air ducts occur due to humidity and water accumulation in the system. Unless you find out precisely what is responsible for the growth in the first place, you might find yourself fighting a losing battle.

The DIY solutions are only suitable for minor mold problems. These are more effective for isolated cases that do not involve the entire ductwork. For example, if your master bathroom or your storage room smells musty, you can try to scrub the particular duct or vent that aerates these rooms. It is very common for some places to gather mold in the ductwork more than the others. Bathrooms are often more prone to mold infestations since there are higher humidity levels, and water almost never dries up completely. There is a high chance of recurring mold growth in the bathroom, and research shows that over 70% of toilets and showers in the urban areas have sneaky mold problems.

Steps to prevent mold problems in your HVAC system and air ducts:

There are times when home remedies are not enough, and you need to resort to more drastic methods. Mold infestations can be quite stubborn, and not tending to them can lead to more significant expenses. If you have had recurring mold problems in the past couple of years, you should consider the following prevention measures:

  1. Replace the HVAC system filters.
  2. Reduce condensation within the ducts by insulating the air ducts.
  3. Do not forget to clean the drip pans regularly. The collection of water in the drip pan can nurture mold colonies.
  4. Seal condensation and leaks. Keep the entire duct system dry. However, be careful while approving the use of sealants. The EPA does not recommend the use of sealants except under circumstances where other alternatives are unviable.
  5. Invest in a good dehumidifier and switch it on near the moldy areas. The resulting low water vapor content in the air will help in the faster evaporation of water from the ductwork and prevent further growth of mold.
  6. Check the ducts regularly. If necessary, get professionals to inspect your HVAC system at regular intervals for any sign of recurrence. Molds are persistent. They are likely to come back at a conducive spot even after rigorous cleanup regimes.

Why should you consider removing mold from your HVAC system and air ducts?

Having fungus in the corner of a damp room is entirely different from mold growing inside the HVAC system. When mold grows within the central heating, cooling, and ventilation system, there are high chances that every room connected to the vents receives generous amounts of mold spores. As soon as you switch your heater or air conditioner on, the microscopic particles start floating and blowing out with air into the room.

Mold is not just icky or gross. It elicits allergic reactions in most people. It can lead to unwarranted asthma attacks in children and the elderly. The effects are usually immediate. However, there are records of people suffering from rashes, inexplicable breathing troubles and irritation in the eyes. The adverse impacts on health are so expansive that experts are still carrying out studies to find out the various effects of mold on human health.

Aside from allergies, molds can cause several unexplainable reactions in humans and their pets. Almost all of them are the results of inhaling mold and spores. Additionally, duct cleaning reduces the amount of floating dust, skin cells and animal dander in the indoor air. It automatically results in fewer allergies. An HVAC company that can offer mold removal and duct cleaning services can give your home healthier air that is free from strange musty smells, harmful spores, and persistent allergens.

Choosing a Duct Cleaning Service Provider In Melbourne, FL

Choosing a Duct Cleaning Service Provider In Melbourne, FL

Suggestions for Choosing a Duct Cleaning Service Provider

To find companies that provide duct cleaning services, check your Yellow Pages under "duct cleaning" or contact the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) at the address and phone number in the information section located at the end of this guidance. Do not assume that all duct cleaning service providers are equally knowledgeable and responsible. Talk to at least three different service providers and get written estimates before deciding whether to have your ducts cleaned. When the service providers come to your home, ask them to show you the contamination that would justify having your ducts cleaned.

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Do not hire duct cleaners who make sweeping claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning — such claims are unsubstantiated. Do not hire duct cleaners who recommend duct cleaning as a routine part of your heating and cooling system maintenance. You should also be wary of duct cleaners who claim to be certified by EPA. Note: EPA neither establishes duct cleaning standards nor certifies, endorses, or approves duct cleaning companies.

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Do not allow the use of chemical biocides or chemical treatments unless you fully understand the pros and the cons

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Check references to be sure other customers were satisfied and did not experience any problems with their heating and cooling system after cleaning.

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Contact your county or city office of consumer affairs or local Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints have been lodged against any of the companies you are considering.

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Interview potential service providers to ensure:

  • they are experienced in duct cleaning and have worked on systems like yours;
  • they will use procedures to protect you, your pets and your home from contamination; and
  • they comply with NADCA's air duct cleaning standards and, if your ducts are constructed of fiberglass duct board or insulated internally with fiber glass duct liner, with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association's (NAIMA) recommendations.
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Ask the service provider whether they hold any relevant state licenses. As of 1996, the following states require air duct cleaners to hold special licenses: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas. Other states may require them as well.

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If the service provider charges by the hour, request an estimate of the number of hours or days the job will take, and find out whether there will be interruptions in the work. Make sure the duct cleaner you choose will provide a written agreement outlining the total cost and scope of the job before work begins.

Deciding Whether or Not to Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Deciding Whether or Not to Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.

If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.

On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.

You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.

On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

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There are substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

  • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
  • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
  • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
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Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)

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Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

Other Important Considerations

Air Ducts in Your Home

Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?

Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health.

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

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There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

  • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
  • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
  • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
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Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects).

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Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

If any of the conditions identified above exists, it usually suggests one or more underlying causes. Prior to any cleaning, retrofitting, or replacing of your ducts, the cause or causes must be corrected or else the problem will likely recur.

Some research suggests that cleaning heating and cooling system components (e.g., cooling coils, fans, and heat exchangers) may improve the efficiency of your system, resulting in longer operating life, as well as some energy and maintenance cost savings. However, little evidence exists that cleaning only the ducts will improve the efficiency of the system.

You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should be occasionally cleaned. Provided that the cleaning is done properly, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental. EPA does not recommend that the air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only as needed. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove or fireplace, they are inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you do decide to have your air ducts cleaned, take the same consumer precautions you normally would in assessing the service provider's competence and reliability.

Air duct cleaning service providers may tell you that they need to apply chemical biocide to the inside of your ducts as a means to kill bacteria (germs) and fungi (mold) and prevent future biological growth. They may also propose the application of a "sealant" to prevent dust and dirt particles from being released into the air or to seal air leaks. You should fully understand the pros and cons of permitting the application of chemical biocides or sealants. While the targeted use of chemical biocides and sealants may be appropriate under specific circumstances, research has not demonstrated their effectiveness in duct cleaning or their potential adverse health effects. No chemical biocides are currently registered by EPA for use in internally-insulated air duct systems (see Should chemical biocides be applied to the inside of air ducts?).

Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, preventing water and dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to prevent contamination (see How to Prevent Duct Contamination).