Remember when we were kids and couldn’t wait to grow up? Today, you probably realize that things are a bit more complicated than what you imagined in grade school. As an adult, you likely enjoy many aspects of your life, but you also recognize that there’s a lot more involved than just being able to set your own bedtime!
As a homeowner (or tenant!), there are more things to manage than you might have realized when you signed on the dotted line, including overseeing whether your HVAC unit is running optimally. When things go wrong, it can have an impact on your family’s level of comfort, health, and finances.
For this reason, it’s best to establish a routine maintenance plan so that any potential problems can be identified and addressed as soon as possible. One unpleasant issue that regular maintenance might reveal is the appearance of black mold in your ventilation system. This is one problem you definitely don’t want to ignore!
What is Black Mold?
You’ve probably heard the term “black mold,” but many probably don’t fully understand what it is. Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is a greenish-black mold that grows on materials such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, lint, and dust “when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding.”
When dirt and dust build up in air vents, black mold can thrive, which is why it’s important to commit to a regular maintenance schedule. Have you found mold but aren’t sure what kind it is? Whether it’s black mold or something else, it’s worth giving your attention. As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise, “All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.”
How to Spot Black Mold
One of the first signs that black mold is growing in your air vents is a distinct musty, mildew-like smell in specific rooms or even throughout your entire home. You may also be able to see the presence of mold around drip pans, air ducts, and within intake vents.
While you may be able to clean away any visible, outward signs of mold growth, this probably won’t eliminate the problem. The vents that run through your entire home will likely need cleaning to get things under control, as getting rid of black mold isn’t as simple as just removing the mold itself.
Health Impact of Black Mold
Most people will have some reaction to prolonged exposure to black mold, but it’s much worse for vulnerable populations such as very young children, the elderly, and those with weakened or compromised immune function. Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as allergies or asthma, can further complicate things. Symptoms of potential black mold exposure include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Irritated eyes, nose and/or throat
- Recurring headaches
- Chronic cough and/or sneezing
- Trouble concentrating
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
These symptoms could be associated with any number of things, from the common cold to food poisoning. If they persist for more than a few days, however, it’s worth making an appointment with your healthcare professional — and then follow-up by having your HVAC unit inspected.
Focus on Prevention
Watch any episode of Property Brothers and you’ll know that cleaning up a mold infestation is a timely and costly endeavour. That’s why being proactive is crucial. As mentioned, mold forms when humidity levels are out of control and excess moisture is present.
Ensuring that seals around windows, sinks, baths, showers, and other areas where water is present are properly fastened and caulked can be a good first step. Additionally, investing in a whole house dehumidifier and addressing overflows, leaks, or floods as soon as they occur can go a long way toward protecting your home and your family.
Leave Removal to the Professionals!
You can definitely try to remove the growth of black mold from your home, but the Environmental Protection Agency recommends relying on the services of a professional. After more than 75 years of helping residents of the Greater Richmond Region, W.G. Speeks can provide assistance with:
- Replacing air filters
- Air duct insulation to reduce condensation
- Whole home solutions for humidity control
- Cleaning air ducts and drip pans
- Sealing leaks
- Identifying potential problems
- Creating a maintenance schedule that meets your family’s needs
We offer a free consultation, decades of experience, and service from NATE-certified technicians. Don’t wait for black mold in your HVAC system to become a dangerous problem. Call us today. We are here to help!