A question came up, "Can mold grow in the ductwork?". To answer this question, I took a look at what mold spores need to survive. Logic says, if you know what something needs to survive, it is likely that it has taken up residency where those needs are satisfied. When the conditions are in abundance, would it not be logical to say that a species that thrives in those conditions would also be abundant? Here is what I found within communities that study mold, fungus, and bacteria.

Mold spores need a stable temperature, water to hydrate and reproduce, and like all living things, a food source. From there, I looked into the food source of this fungus. What does mold love to eat? The answer is carpet fibers, paper, cardboard, drywall, and items containing cellulose. Spores don't care for dry foods either, much like my dog, they want the wet stuff! Some molds like black mold are also mainly toxic. They produce mycotoxins as they eat, grow, and form colonies with their neighbors.

Symptoms Of Mold

child sneezing from mold - Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Now mycotoxicosis, also known as mold poisoning, can affect your upper respiratory system, leaving you with symptoms like cold or flu. Luckily it's not hard to determine if you have a mold infestation. There is usually a musty smell associated with severe infestations. Also, you'll find you get more headaches, sneezing, allergy type symptoms, and you're often sick. If an infection is developed, more problems, especially for young children and those who have asthma, allergies, or anyone with a decreased lung capacity from smoking, etc., is in danger. If you have had long term exposure, you can be sure to experience any of the following:

  • Asthma
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Weakened Immune Systems
  • Allergies
  • Pulmonary Issues
  • Immunodeficiency Disorders

In many cases, you can find the source and remove the mold by cutting it out, bleaching non-porous surfaces, or using a fungicidal agent. But what do you do when you can't see it because it's inside the ductwork in your attic? You block it with HEPA filters, the ones that you check regularly, and replace when needed. The ones that fully cover the vents, leaving no gaps for small spores to get through. In many cases, the ones you have forgotten about and or have no desire pulling the ladder out to deal with them. Now, there are kits available to check your air quality and to determine if the mold is toxic. The truth is, if you have fungus growing in your home, you have a problem that needs removal. But how do you fix the problem when your home is using central air systems, and you have discovered mold in this perfect environment for spores to survive?

Removing Mold

Not all cleaning solutions are going to rid you of the problem. Some cleaning solutions will either stunt growth temporarily or cull the colony, which will eventually grow back. Doing the job yourself is risky as your exposure to the mold and chemicals used can be very damaging to your health. Think about it; you're on a mission to kill an organic lifeform. You are also an organic lifeform, killing one will most certainly hurt the other. Therefore, it is our recommendation to hire a professional. When the mold is in your HVAC system, no matter how many times you clean it, the mold will surely grow again. The fungus returns because of the conditions offered by the environment. Remember, mold thrives in moist, temperature-controlled environments with a food source. Many companies treat the infestation by thoroughly cleaning, encapsulating, and using a biocide application. After all that, they still recommend the entire system to be inspected and re-treated again in 6 months. Another alternative is to install an Ultra Violet Light System inside the ductwork. This system will kill mold, bacteria, and fungus in the air that passes through the unit. Also, if you consider this method, make sure the UV light doesn't shine on the air filters, as it will also damage them. Now you have a bulb to replace, along with the air filters. Some of you are even asking yourselves where the filters are?

hvac cleaning

Solutions

A mini-split system is an incredible option. These systems heat and cool the area you are in, saving you money. The unit dealing with the heat pump stays outside and there is no ductwork to worry about. Also, the air has to pass through three filtration systems that block everything down to viruses. Another advantage, mini-split systems do not require retrofitting; this can save you thousands. Finally, these ductless systems are quick to install and do not need complex wiring setups. The best part is, there is an Air Source Heat Pump Incentive Program designed to support this more efficient technology.

The Incentive

Central Hudson knows that building and water heating are critical areas to address to meet clean energy goals. Electric HVAC heating systems are more efficient than systems using onsite oil heating and propane fuels and can have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Knowing this, Central Hudson is offering incentives to replace or offset existing fuel oil and propane systems with efficient electric heat pumps, including ductless mini-split, and heat pump water heaters. Central Hudson has expanded this program to include more than $24 million in heat pump incentives available to residential and commercial customers. This incentive works out to you getting five systems for the price of two. There is no better time than now to save on your heating and cooling and eliminate threats to your comfort and health. Contact Rycor and learn about the solutions available for your home.

Sources

Healthline
https://www.healthline.com

Central Hudson
https://www.cenhud.com

NYSERDA
https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Clean-heating-and-cooling-solutions

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