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Also visit: Heating-Cooling Mold Problems

Air Conditioning System and Mold Problems

          Q. I saw your website and can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone locally here as well as the fact that 2 HVAC companies and one environmental cleaning company have me totally confused!!! Here's the problem... we found mold in our air handler (12 year old system). I live in Fla and have noticed over the last year or so mold accumulating on the outside of our 14 vents within the home.  We have been experiencing many allergies and respiratory problems and so I contacted an environmental company to look at my system and tell me what I should do.  He recommended cleaning the existing system and putting in a UV light.  I went to an HVAC company for a second opinion and his recommendation was to remove all the flex ducts and put new ones in (to the cost of $3400) as well as upgrade our A/C system for a clean start.  Another HVAC system wanted to clean the ducts without replacing and then put in an air purification system with a PURON based air handler/condenser.  As you can see, I am totally in the dark as to what is the best way to go.  I hear Freon is on the way out and some companies are pushing Puron or 410 A, to be upgraded for the future. I would like your personal opinion.  In the meanwhile, I penciled in next Tuesday on my calendar to have someone come out to personally test for mold and the concentrations of it in our house. Do you feel that cleaning an existing mold problem (flex duct) and putting in a new system would do the trick, or do you believe in these 'air purification systems' and ultraviolet lights? [December 9, 2004]
       A. All of the proposed solutions overlook a more basic problem: your home is going to be very mold cross contaminated if your heating/cooling is mold contaminated. The hvac is very efficient in distributing airborne mold spores all over the house. You need to do all around mold testing of your home including mold testing all visible mold, the air of each room, crawl space, attic, garage, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling duct register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test.  Hire a Certified Mold Inspector, or use our do it yourself mold test kits [at our online mold products catalog]. You don't fix the hvac mold problem without simultaneously fixing all home mold problems. As to the hvac, flexible ducts are a throw away. Sheet metal ducts with NO interior insulation are very cleanable and can be thoroughly disinfected with EPA-registered fungicides. The heating/cooling system can be cleaned with repeated mold sprayings of Mold Home Remedy Recipe into the return air duct of your system while it is operating on fan ventilation. Of course, it would be best to replace the heating/cooling equipment with new ones as the last step in mold remediation. UV lights would have to be many in number and work as a well-engineered system to have enough killing power to kill mold [over 300,000 uwats of UV energy per second]. Learn the 25 steps required for safe and effective mold remediation.

Q. My HVAC technician says I have mold in my heat pump system. In the air handler which has the filter. He said that by replacing my unfiltered return air grill, which is the only return  in the house (it  measures 2'x2') with one that is designed to hold a filter of its own, I need not be concerned. Cost is less than $50.00. [Sept. 21, 2004]
A. The advice, so far as it goes, is good. Be sure to use as the filter on the return air duct the purple-colored packaging [best for catching tiny airborne mold spores] advanced version of the 3M Filtrete air filters commonly available [Home Depot, etc.]. Although a helpful step, filtering incoming air does not stop heating/cooling mold growth and spores already inside the heating/cooling equipment and ducts from being distributed efficiently out of all heating/cooling duct registers during the operation of the system.  You need to find out why your heating/cooling system is mold contaminated and whether your home in general is mold contaminated. Use do it yourself mold test kits available from a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store. to mold test the air of each room, basement, crawl space, attic, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling duct register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test. you can use a low-cost Mold Home Remedy Recipes available at Mold Mart.. Learn the 25 steps required for safe and effective mold remediation and mold abatement.

Q. I have a musty smell in the kitchen and one of the bath rooms.  When I leave a wet rag in the kitchen it gets a bad musty smell real quick.  Also the bath towels take on a wet musty smell. I don't see any evidence of mold, but I may not be looking at the right places.  The crawl space under my house didn't have any plastic on it, so I put a layer down.  Will mold collect on the air filters for the furnace?  If so what does it look like? [Nov. 22, 2004]

         A. The return air duct register's air filter will look black or even bluish-green [most likely to be Penicillium mold] if heavily mold laden. You can use the Scotch tape method of mold sampling to collect a sample of possible mold growth on the incoming side of an air filter. You can thin put the Scotch tape sample sticky side down into a mold test kit and watch for mold growth over a 7 day time period. You also need to use our test kits to mold test the air of each room, any attic/basement/crawl space/garage, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling duct register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test. The fact that the towels easily become mold-smelly is indicative a possible elevated levels of airborne mold spores. Your crawl space needs to be carefully inspected and tested because it is likely a real mold haven.  

      Q. I live in San Antonio, TX. At certain times of the year, our air conditioning system seems to generate black mold-like growth on some of the vents or diffusers. The system is old - was installed in 1968. We leave the central fan on continuously to keep the air filtering and to reduce particulates in the air. Sometimes we all feel tired and develop sinus problems. Do we need a new AC system? Or can we change the method of operation to reduce mold problems? [June 17, 2003]
A. Your health problem symptoms and the sighting of possible mold growth are two big reasons why you should have your home inspected and mold tested for toxic black mold problems by either a Certified Mold Inspector or by using do it yourself mold test kits available from a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store. Mold can grow in large amounts inside heating/cooling equipment and ducts if it has food to eat [airborne organic dust] and moisture [high indoor humidity or water leaks into heating/air conditioning equipment (hvac) and ducts]. If there is a mold infestation problem anywhere in your home, the air movement of heating/air conditioning systems [with air continually being returned into the hvac equipment and ducts through the return registers and ducts] will easily contaminate hvac equipment and ducts. Thus, effective mold remediation and mold abatement of mold problems in one area of your home will often require the replacement of your entire hvac system [if you can afford it], or at least professional cleaning and proper chemical treatment of the hvac system with one of the Mold Home Remedy Recipes.


Photograph of heavy mold growth on duct insulation in a home.
A different moldy location in the same house [as the picture on the right] for substantial mold growth on duct insulation.
Photograph of mold growth on the outside of heating/cooling ducts.
Heavy mold growth on insulation on the outside of
heating/cooling ducts.
Mold growth on bathroom heating/cooling duct register.
Heavy mold growth on the duct register of a bathroom heating/air conditioning
register in a bathroom..

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