Most people don't consider their home's air ducts a potential source of air quality issues. Your HVAC system uses a heavy-duty filter to remove contaminants from your air, so a well-maintained system should ultimately positively affect your home's indoor air quality. Unfortunately, poor maintenance can lead to much less healthy situations.
Failing to keep your ductwork clean can turn them into an environment ripe for colonization by mold and other harmful microorganisms and a trap for contaminants such as pollen. But why does this happen, and how can you avoid this situation for your home? Keep reading to learn more!
How Mold Grows in Ductwork
The interior of your home's ductwork is a relatively sterile environment, whether your home uses rigid sheet metal ducts or more modern flexible ducts. The material used to construct these ducts does not provide a good organic food source for mold, so mold and bacteria typically can't take hold directly on the ductwork surface.
However, dust and other particles can become trapped on the surface of the ducts. These particles can slip past poorly-sized filters or get pulled in beyond the filter by leaky ductwork. As dust and dirt build up on the interior of your ducts, this grime layer provides a potential food source. Since mold spores are nearly everywhere, moisture is the only missing ingredient.
While a well-maintained air conditioner can help to dehumidify the air, a poorly maintained system can allow excess humidity to fester in your ductwork. Frozen evaporator coils can even result in excessively moist air passing through your ductwork. Once humidity levels are high enough, mold can grow, pushing spores throughout your home on air currents.
What You Can Do to Prevent Mold Problems
Dealing with mold problems in your ductwork requires a two-fold approach. First, you need to eliminate the source of moisture to prevent further growth. However, you must also remove their food source to prevent the mold from returning in the future. Repairing issues with your AC system that may be causing excess humidity should always be your first step, but it shouldn't be your last.
Instead, a thorough duct cleaning will help remove dust and debris from your ductwork. By cleaning out this layer of dirt, you'll remove the food that mold requires to grow. This cleaning will help you resolve any current mold issues, and it is an important step to prevent future mold growth. Even if you don't currently have mold in your ductwork, duct cleaning can work as effective preventative maintenance.
Call a residential air duct cleaning for more info.