Can Air Duct Systems Become Contaminated With Mold?

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Can air duct systems become contaminated with mold?

Given the dozens of health issues that are associated with long-term mold exposure – including asthma and even depression – it’s imperative that you keep your home free from the mold as best you can with preventative and reactive mold removal strategies.

While it’s likely that you already pay close attention to visible mold in the bathroom and other rooms of the home, you might not have considered the threat of air duct mold infestations. In truth, it’s an issue that you cannot afford to ignore.

Mold Contamination Within Air Duct Systems

The short answer to the title question is: yes, air ducts can become contaminated.

Indoor mold growth occurs when moisture is allowed to settle in one place. Air ducts are a prime candidate that offers a great breeding ground for mold spores. This is also true of HVAC systems, which is why all homeowners must pay close attention. Otherwise, the property could join the 18%-50% of homes that are infested by mold.

A moisture source and organic debris are the two main items needed for mold growth The air duct system has them both and breeds mold at a steady rate. Meanwhile, particles are transported to other parts of the home each time you choose to blast some hot or cold air through the home. Once the mold is airborne, sometimes nuisance odors are encountered, or health problems do occur.

Mold inspection hvac

Moisture will naturally be present in the air vent due to the nature of circulating air. Still, some issues can increase the moisture levels (and, therefore, the likelihood of mold growth). They include:

  • Dust and dirt accumulation on the air conditioning filters and condensate coil
  • Panned supply or return ductwork
  • Gaps, openings, and holes near / in the HVAC return as they pull humidity and moisture into the duct system
  • Air is pulled from the attic walls and other dusty, unclean areas
  • The HVAC unit is too big and powerful for the property size

Mold contamination can occur at any time of the year. Whether you’re using the HVAC to heat the home in winter or cool the air during the summer months, air duct mold contamination is a real threat. As such, air duct cleaning could be needed at any time too.

Air duct contamination can be linked to mold spores and air pollution in other parts of the home or maybe an isolated issue. Either way, restoring cleanliness for a mold-free system is vital. When left untreated, serious problems can arise.

Why It’s So Dangerous

It is believed that over 4.6 million of the 21.8 million cases of asthma in America can be at least partially attributed to mold spores within the home. While this stat does cover all types of mold exposure, mold in the air duct is a major hidden problem.

Panned bay-dust

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Mold within the air ducts is often left unidentified and untreated for a far longer period
  • Mold from the air vents can be spread out throughout the home and is not localized to one room
  • Mold inside the air duct can attract insects and pests; their droppings will cause more damage
  • Mold spores quickly spread, leading to mold growth on walls in different rooms

It’s no exaggeration to state that long-term mold exposure can reduce your quality and quantity of life. The mold will also take its toll on the whole family too, which is why you need to act ASAP.

Prevention Is the Best Form of Protection

Professional mold remediation, air quality testing, and air duct cleaning can be completed in a fast and efficient manner to get your home back to its best. Still, preventing unwanted episodes is always preferred.

After all, black mold can kill. Even if the mold isn’t the toxigenic kind, health problems can occur quickly once the spores are airborne. When added to the aesthetic and financial damages, the following preventive tips are essential:

  • Clean the home regularly and keep other rooms free from the mold as the air vents will suck up those spores and spread them through the home
  • Wipe the inside and outside parts of the air ducts, and clean and change filters regularly. Support this with an annual professional clean
  • Seal the attic to stop the large volumes of dust from entering the air vents, and be sure that air duct joints are free from leaks or damages
  • Avoid using the A/C unit where possible and opt for low humidity levels throughout the property to make it a less thriving breeding ground.

Unfortunately, though, condensation caused as hot and cold air pass each other means that you’ll never truly stop it altogether. When spores do surface, early treatment is key. This starts with identifying that a problem exists.

Identifying Mold in the Air Duct System: The Symptoms

The harsh reality is that you are often unlikely to see the mold without investigating the air duct thoroughly, which is a job best left to mold remediation experts, although it’s always worth inspecting the surfaces for indications that mold is present.

Panned bay - mold

Therefore, it’s important to be vigilant to the common symptoms of mold exposure, including:

  • Soreness and irritation of the eyes, throat, and nose
  • Nausea, fatigue, and dizzy spells
  • Uncharacteristically dry skin
  • Decreased lung function / Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP) – AKA – Humidifier Fever
  • Headaches that seem to pass when you are outside

There are plenty of other mold exposure symptoms to consider. So if you’re experiencing these without seeing mold inside rooms, the air duct could be the source of your troubles. The most telling aspect, though, is when a musty smell is present throughout several rooms of the home. This shows that it isn’t isolated to one room and is probably linked to the air vents.

Do Your Air Ducts Require Treatment?

If you suspect that your air duct systems have become contaminated with mold, GreenWorks can conduct thorough air quality testing throughout the home or commercial building and of the HVAC ducts. They are experts at mold investigations and mold remediation.

Restore your air quality for a healthy home today by calling our friendly experts!

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Avatar for Victor Coppola

Victor Coppola

Victor Coppola is a Building Biologist with decades of diverse environmental experience spanning natural resource management and contaminated sites to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and building hygiene matters. He focuses on the three most prevalent issues degrading today's built environment: Moisture Odor & Mold (M.O.M.). Mr. Coppola and his Team are sought out by individuals and professionals concerned about IAQ to those actually suffering from Biotoxin Illness. His hybrid blend of environmental interests and services enable him to give a unique perspective into today's changing environment. Think your home is killing you, better call Victor and his Team at GreenWorks.
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