Mold and mildew are common problems that can affect your air conditioning system and your indoor air quality. Mold and mildew are types of fungi that grow in moist and dark environments, such as your AC unit or ducts. They can produce spores that can become airborne and cause allergic reactions, respiratory infections, asthma attacks, or other health issues. They can also damage your AC system and reduce its efficiency and performance.
Therefore, it is important to prevent mold and mildew from growing in your AC system and to remove them as soon as you notice them. Here are some tips on how to do that.
How to Prevent Mold and Mildew in Your AC System
The best way to prevent mold and mildew from growing in your AC system is to control the moisture level and the cleanliness of your unit and ducts. Here are some steps you can take to do that:
- Clean or replace your air filter regularly. The air filter is the first line of defense against dust, dirt, pollen, and other contaminants that can feed mold and mildew. A dirty or clogged filter can also restrict the airflow and cause condensation in your unit or ducts. You should check your filter every month and clean or replace it every two to three months or according to the manufacturer’s instructions1.
- Keep the area around your AC unit clean. Make sure there is no debris, leaves, grass clippings, or other objects that can block the airflow or drainage of your outdoor unit. Also, keep the indoor vents clear of furniture, curtains, rugs, or other items that can obstruct the airflow or collect dust1.
- Check for water leaks and fix them promptly. Water leaks can occur in your AC unit or ducts due to cracks, holes, loose connections, or clogged drain lines. Water leaks can create a moist environment for mold and mildew to grow and spread. You should inspect your unit and ducts regularly for signs of water leaks, such as dripping water, wet spots, stains, rust, or corrosion. If you find any leaks, you should repair them as soon as possible or call a professional for help1.
- Keep the humidity level low. High humidity can also contribute to mold and mildew growth in your AC system and your home. You should keep the humidity level between 30% and 50% for optimal comfort and health. You can use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level in your home. You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air2.
- Have your AC system serviced regularly. A professional AC service can help you prevent mold and mildew growth by cleaning, inspecting, and tuning up your unit and ducts. A professional can also detect and fix any problems that may cause moisture buildup or poor performance in your system. You should have your AC system serviced at least once a year before the cooling season2.
What to Do If You Have Mold or Mildew in Your Air Conditioner
If you suspect that you have mold or mildew in your air conditioner, you should take action immediately to remove them and prevent them from spreading. Here are some steps you can take to do that:
- Turn off your AC system and disconnect it from the power source. This will prevent mold spores from circulating in the air and reduce the risk of electric shock3.
- Wear protective gear. Mold spores can be harmful to your health if you inhale them or touch them with your skin. You should wear a mask, gloves, goggles, and coveralls when dealing with mold or mildew3.
- Clean the affected parts of your AC system with bleach or vinegar. Bleach or vinegar can kill mold and mildew on non-porous surfaces, such as metal or plastic parts of your unit or ducts. You should mix one part bleach or vinegar with 16 parts water and spray it on the affected areas. Then scrub them with a brush or cloth until they are clean4 . Rinse them with water and dry them thoroughly.
- Use a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining mold spores from your AC system. A HEPA vacuum can capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger in size, including mold spores. You should vacuum all the parts of your unit and ducts that may have been exposed to mold spores3. Dispose of the vacuum bag or filter after use.
- Apply a mold inhibitor to prevent mold growth in your AC system. A mold inhibitor is a product that can prevent mold and mildew from growing on porous surfaces, such as wood or insulation parts of your unit or ducts. You should apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions after cleaning and drying your AC system4.
- Test your AC system for mold after cleaning it. You can use a mold test kit to check if there is any mold left in your AC system after cleaning it. If the test results are positive, you may need to repeat the cleaning process or call a professional for help.
When to Call a Professional
If you have a severe mold problem in your AC system that covers more than 10 square feet of surface area, you should call a professional mold remediation service instead of trying to clean it yourself. A professional service has the equipment, training, and experience to safely and effectively remove mold and mildew from your AC system and restore your indoor air quality.
You should also call a professional if you have any health issues that may be aggravated by exposure to mold spores, such as allergies, asthma, or immune disorders.
A professional service can also help you identify and fix the source of moisture that caused the mold problem in the first place, such as leaks, poor ventilation, or inadequate insulation.