Whether you’re an experienced homeowner, brand new, or just renting, mold is a common problem in Alaska.
In the past few years, we’ve all experienced drastic temperature changes. We spent last summer wishing for air conditioning, while this summer couldn’t have been wetter. Suppose you feel like the temperature fluctuations have made negative changes to your home’s health. In that case, it’s time to consider your options before winter hits.
Today, we’ll help you identify just that. Is there mold hiding in your Alaska HVAC system?
What is Mold?
It’s natural to be disgusted at the first thought (or sight) or mold—no matter where you find it. To be effective in removing it, however, it’s essential to understand what mold is. Simply put, mold is a fungus. And just like any other fungus, it reproduces through releasing spores into the air.
Mold can be dangerous to your health. When the spores are released, we can breathe them in and can get sick. Mold allergies are real and harmful. For the health of your home—and your family—it’s imperative to get on top of the infestation.
If you know you have mold in your HVAC system, don’t hesitate to give us a call. If not, read on.
What Causes Mold Infestations in HVAC Systems?
Alaska HVAC systems go through a lot: Harsh winters, wet summers, and often, intense temperature changes. Unfortunately, this makes them highly susceptible to mold, which only needs two factors to thrive: moisture and warmth. When it comes to Alaska, the first thought isn’t exactly “warm”—but our homes are.
When it’s winter eight months out of the year, our homes are the perfect environments for mold to grow. Before the heating comes on, make sure to schedule your yearly HVAC maintenance check, so you can breathe easy into the colder months.
Where Does the Moisture Come From?
The moisture, however, comes from a variety of places. A home’s HVAC system isn’t just your air conditioning—it’s a complex system of vents, filters, and heaters. Your air has multiple places to come in and out of your home, which doesn’t always make it easy to find the source of moisture.
The most common places to find moisture build-up are:
- A roof leak
- An unfitted or oversized AC unit
- A plumbing leak
- Inadequate bathroom venting
Where Does the Mold Grow?
Similar to finding the source of moisture, finding the mold itself isn’t always easy! Luckily, once you’ve found the source of moisture, you’re usually not far from the mold itself.
However, if you’ve got an infestation on your hands, then the mold likely isn’t just in one place. It could be up in your vents or deep under your house—making it feel impossible to get rid.
Before giving up hope, try to locate these common HVAC parts:
- Your air ducts
- The intake vents (outside of your home)
- Cooling coils (inside the air handler or attached to the furnace)
- Drain pans (underneath your indoor evaporator coils)
If you still can’t locate the mold visually, that’s okay; there’s another sense you can use other than sight alone: Your smell.
What Are the Signs of Mold?
Finding mold in your HVAC system is the same as finding mold on your week-old leftovers: your senses will likely tell you before you see it for yourself.
#1: A strong, musty odor
The most common way to diagnose mold in your home is its smell. Mold smells like sweaty socks left at the bottom of the hamper: musty, mildewy, and mostly gross. Diagnosing mold in your HVAC system means that you’ll smell this odor throughout adjacent rooms. If you’re unlucky, it’ll be throughout the entire house. If you’re not sure if that’s “just the way your house smells”, see if you can visit a friend’s place for comparison. Don’t forget to wear a mask!
#2: Itchy, irritated eyes
With allergy season gone, are your eyes still irritated at home? It can be hard to distinguish the causes while we’re all home most of the time, so if you’re unsure, spend some time in nature. Walk your dog, visit a park, or even go for a drive. If you realize that your ear, nose, and throat symptoms clear up while you’re away, this is a sign of a sick home that needs treatment.
Another sign of irritation isn’t just your eyes—it can be your head as well. Often, these headaches can feel unexplainable. Therefore, they can feel like it’s just because of stress or lack of sleep. Don’t write it off. Take some time to see how you feel in different environments. If your headache suddenly goes away at the grocery store, your symptoms can most likely link to your HVAC system.
#4: Nausea, fatigue, and dizziness
At its worst, a mold infestation can escalate sicknesses your family may already be susceptible to. Your asthmatic child may be experiencing worsening symptoms, or your parent may be more fatigued than usual. It’s important to recognize symptoms across all your family members, not just yourself. Because even if you don’t have mold allergies—someone else may. If you notice any of these symptoms arising in your household, it’s no longer just an infestation—it’s an emergency. Take care of your family member first, then give us a call immediately after.
#5: You see the mold growing
Just like pests, mold is an infestation. If you see some, there’s usually a lot more lurking where you can’t.
When Is it Time to Call the Experts?
If you think you have a mold infestation, there’s not much you can do to prevent its spread. Because mold is a fungus, it isn’t easy to eradicate on your own. And when it’s in your HVAC system, it’s in places most of us can’t reach without the proper tools to give us a hand. The best thing you can do to stop the spread are:
- Turn off the heating/cooling vents.
- Lower the temperature in your home.
- Empty and clean your drip pans.
- Invest in and run a dehumidifier in your bathroom, kitchen, and other moist areas in your home.
After the initial infestation is taken care of, make sure to do yearly maintenance on your HVAC systems as a preventative measure. Remember to rely on your sense of smell to detect mold. It could mean the difference between a healthy home and a sick home.
Have questions? Talk to us today.