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How To Identify Mold Growth In Your Air Ducts

If you have recently had a flood issue in your home, then you may have also started to develop a mold problem. Using bleach to clean mold from all solid surfaces in your house is a great way to eliminate the vast majority of the mold spores. However, some spores may have moved into your ducts. When this happens, the spores can easily travel into your living space when the heat is turned on in the winter. To prevent this, learn about some ways you can find out if mold is looming in your HVAC ducts so a thorough cleaning can then be completed. 

Test The Air Filter

Most forced air, HVAC systems will consist of the heater, the plenum, the ductwork, and the vents. Since many basements are moist, a great deal of mold spores can enter into the HVAC system through the air intake system or the blower. Once air enters the blower, it will be forced through an air filter attached to the plenum. If you have a typical air filter, then it will remove 95% of particles that are between 3 and 10 microns in diameter. Since mold spores are between 3 and 40 microns wide, then the filter will catch most of the mold. You will need to see if there is a large accumulation of mold around the air filter though, since about 5% of the mold spores will make it through the filter. This can indicate a mold problem, and a good amount of spores can work their way through the filter and travel through the ducts.

You will need to test your air filter for mold. First, you should change the air filter and run your heater for about 24 hours. Afterwards, purchase a mail-in mold testing kit. Remove the adhesive tape from the kit and press the sticky end against the middle of the filter. Place the tape in the provided package and send it to the mold testing laboratory. You will need to wait for your results. A report will typically be sent to you that describes the density of the mold spores in the sample you sent. Density will typically be described as light, medium, or heavy. If the density is medium or heavy, then the blower and plenum should be thoroughly cleaned.

Inspect The Inside Of The Vents

You can and should have the dust in your home tested for mold spores. It is wise to send in samples that are near your air vents and just inside the metal grates as well. This can help you to figure out if there is an issue with mold in the ducts. You can also complete a visual inspection of the ducts to see if mold is actively growing in the channels. To inspect the ducts, rent a device called a video borescope from your local hardware store. Since the average sized home has at least several dozen feet of ductwork, make sure the borescope has a 50 to 100 foot optic line so you can inspect long sections of ducts. Ducts will be dark, so make sure the borescope comes equipped with a light. A flexible and digital optic borescope with an attached video screen will work the best for your needs.

Start by removing the vent grate from one of the vents in the most central room of your home. Turn on the borescope and gently fish the camera through the ductwork. Inspect the insides of the ducts as the camera moves. Most borescopes have color video outputs, so look for patches of black or green formations along the sides of the ducts. 

Complete visual inspections through several of your vents and also up through the plenum that is attached to your furnace. If you notice mold, then speak with a duct cleaning professional, such as those at Homeplace Furnace Duct & Fireplace Cleaning, as soon as possible. A cleaning and sterilization will need to be completed to get rid of the mold.