Should I Have My Building Tested for Mold?

Humans have been dealing with mold for a long, long time. 600 million years, give or take.

It even gets a mention in the Bible, with the book of Leviticus referring to “defiling mold.”

That’s a good way to put it. Mold can be both unsightly and toxic, which is why mold inspection and testing is so important for commercial building owners.

 

What makes mold so dangerous?

Your employees, customers, tenants and visitors who have asthma or weakened immune systems are more likely to have mold sensitivity, which leads to nasal congestion and difficulty breathing, skin irritation and itchy, watery eyes.

Black mold contamination can lead to more serious issues, such as upper respiratory problems, chest inflammation and even chronic lung disease.

Symptoms of these conditions may be mild at first but live or work with them long enough and more severe symptoms will begin to manifest.

How can I control mold in my building?

If you want to control mold, you’ll need to control moisture. You can do that by:

  • Fixing leaks as soon as possible
  • Paying attention to wet spots and condensation and cleaning and drying them within 48 hours
  • Increasing surface temperature in the building through insulation or increased air circulation
  • Reducing moisture by increasing ventilation or dehumidifying
  • Making sure your HVAC drip pans are flowing properly
  • Venting moisture-generating appliances to the outside
  • Performing routine HVAC inspections and maintenance

When should I consider mold inspection and testing?

Even if you haven’t spotted mold, there are some situations where you may want to consider having mold inspection and testing performed:

  • You can’t see mold, but you can smell it.
  • You’ve had water leaks or other plumbing issues and suspect that mold might be growing inside your walls.
  • You’ve had mold remediation performed and want to have testing performed to ensure the issue has been resolved.
  • You have tenants, employees or customers dealing with health issues that are tough to diagnose. Mold testing and inspection can help confirm a doctor’s suspicions that mold is causing people to get sick.

What if I’ve spotted mold?

Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to prevent mold from forming. From here, your job becomes fixing the problem. Here are some steps you can take.

  • Wear protective gear around mold. Do not touch it with your bare hands and always wear a respirator or mask when breathing around mold.
  • Check the area where you’ve found mold for damage to building materials or structural damage.
  • Shut down your HVAC system, as this will help spread mold spores through the building.
  • Hire a mold remediation team to help restore the building to safety.

Your mold remediation plan should include steps to fix the water or moisture problem, otherwise, you may have to deal with mold again in the future.

The health and safety of the building’s occupants and the remediators is paramount. You should also tell occupants when mold issues are discovered. According to the EPA, you may need to relocate occupants, especially in cases of widespread contamination.

Do you suspect there’s mold growing in your building? Don’t wait for it to become a major problem. The team at Air Care & Restoration can provide professional mold inspection and testing services.

From testing to mold remediation to containment and protection, we offer a full suite of services designed to help you breathe better. Contact us today to find out more about how we can keep your employees, customers and tenants healthy.

How Can I Tell if There’s Mold in My Ducts?

Air ducts play a critical role in your home’s HVAC system, and keeping them in optimal working conditions means proper ventilation and a consistent supply of air in and out of the living space. Mold in air vents is one of the main challenges facing homeowners, especially those in moist and warm areas. Humid and warm temperatures coupled with poor ventilation favor mold growth. Similarly, anything that traps moisture inside the ductwork and causes condensation can also expedite this mold growth. To prevent mold infestations, you need to understand the factors that favor its growth then find ways to eliminate them. Here are some of the possible causes of mold problems in your air conditioning unit and the subsequent air ducts.

 

Causes of Mold Infestation in Your HVAC System

Mold is a fungus, which occurs as tiny organisms, taking any color from orange, black, green, white to purple. Molds live anywhere where the conditions are favorable – either indoors or outdoors. They thrive on moisture and organic matter and reproduce via lightweight spores, which travel through the air.

When warm moist air passes a cold surface such as uninsulated duct work for instance in an attic or a crawl space, water droplets form within the ductwork; however, water droplets then build up instead of evaporating if there’s high water-vapor content outside. This creates a conducive environment for mold growth particularly if the duct work is contaminated with dust or dirt. To grow and reproduce, mold feeds on dust, dirt, pollen, dead skin cells, animal dander, and water, which collects inside the air duct.

Signs of Mold in Your Home

Before you can remove mold growth in your home, you need to spot the signs of mold infestation. Below are some of the signs to look out for in your HVAC system:

  • A strong, musty smell covering your entire house or a few adjacent rooms
  • There is mold growth around the air ducts and intake vents
  • You are experiencing some random headaches that set in when you are inside the house and go away when you are outside.

Some people are sensitive to mold, and the odor alone will make them sneeze or develop nasal congestion. Similarly, being in contact with the mold spores could trigger allergic reactions such as skin rash, watery eyes, running nose, asthma, chest tightness, etc.

Depending on the infestation level, you may not notice any of the above signs, but the mold is right inside the air ducts. The fungus can spread rapidly, and you need the proper treatment to get rid of the mold colonies entirely and effectively.

For minor mold problems, you can use some DIY solutions. A common option is to mix cleaning solutions such as household detergents with baking soda and water. If you are to buy a commercial mold removal remedy, you want to look for one that’s EPA registered to make sure you aren’t polluting your indoor space.

Throughout the cleaning process, you should turn off the heating or cooling vents so you can comfortably and safely clean mold off the infested HVAC parts. Rinse up these areas and dispose of the cleaning materials in an airtight trash bag. After a thorough cleaning, use a mold growth inhibitor to avoid mold resurgence inside the air ducts.

When to Seek Help

If the infestation level is severe, it’s best to consult a professional mold removal company, which will first conduct a thorough property inspection to ascertain that no other parts in your home suffer from mold infestation. Additionally, black mold infestation is easier to spot due to its distinct green to black appearance; however, the other mold species may escape your naked eyes, hence the need for specialized mold testing.

At times, the source of mold in your air ducts can be difficult to spot. The drains and drip pans are often damp and dark and may sometimes clog, creating the perfect conditions for mold to grow. With mold testing and remediation, you are leaving nothing to chance.

This is because the experts will quickly tell the level of infestation as well as suggest the best remediation strategy that will successfully remove mold from the heavily infested and hard-to-reach areas within your HVAC system.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to remove mold from air conditioner ducts using the DIY method and when to seek professional help, you stand a better chance of handling mold infestation than the average homeowner. Keeping your home tidy and spotless is easy, but ensuring optimal air quality can be challenging.

Warmth, high humidity levels, and water buildup make it easy for mold to grow and multiply throughout your home. The HVAC system, in particular, meets all these conditions, making it a potential breeding ground for fungus of all types.

Spotting mold infestation is easy in severe cases. All you need to do is check for strange musty odor, allergic reactions, and visible mold colonies around vents and registers. Your indoor air professional can take air samples under a specified set of conditions and have them analyzed for the number and types of mold species.  Typically, indoor air samples are compared with outdoor air samples and the numbers can generally tell the source of the mold problem.  Either way, working with experts in indoor air quality will make the entire mold testing, air duct cleaning, and mold remediation process easier and more convenient.