Few things in the home can pose as great a risk to the health and well-being of your family as mold growing in the air ducts – especially the notoriously harmful black mold. While mold in air ducts and vents is fairly uncommon, it does happen. If you suspect black or other molds might be growing in your HVAC systems, take the following steps to be certain before calling in a professional vent cleaner.
How to Tell if You Have Mold in Your Air Vents
- Follow your nose. The first sign you’ll probably notice if you have mold or fungus growing in your air vents is the telltale smell. Most people know what mold smells like without having to be told: think old gym clothes, bad food from the back of the fridge, or a particularly pungent European cheese. If that kind of smell pervades your entire house, or smells especially strong new vent openings or grates, it’s possible that you have a mold problem in your HVAC system.
- Check for visual signs. If you think there might be mold in your home’s vents, open up a grate and peer inside with a flashlight. If you see mold, often in the form of black or off-color spotting or irregular splotches, the mystery is solved and it’s time to call a pro. In severe cases, mold will be visible outside the vents and AC registers on the surrounding wall, floor, or ceiling. If this is the case, call a pro right away.
- Check for standing water or excessive moisture. Even if you can’t see mold, it thrives on excess humidity and moisture. If you see any, there’s a better than normal chance that mold isn’t far away.
- Get your vents tested by a professional. It’s the only way to be sure of the location and scope of the problem.
What Causes Mold in Duct Systems?
Mold in duct systems is caused when it finds the three things it needs to thrive: a stable temperature, a source of food, and a source of water. Since HVAC systems are designed to stabilize temperature and dust provides a workable source of food for mold, all that’s left for most systems is moisture. Once a steady supply of moisture is available, through a leak, condensation, or improper maintenance, mold growth is a distinct possibility.
What to Do about Mold in Your Home’s Vents
Again, your first step should be to call a professional mold inspector. They will perform a thorough inspection of vents, HVAC units, AC coils, and other places that can harbor mold. If the testing team does find mold, remediation is done by air duct cleaners. Once your ducts are clean and free of mold, prevent future growth by having your ducts and HVAC systems regularly cleaned and maintained.