The long, humid summers in Middle Tennessee are conducive to mold and mildew and its associated odors forming in your home. In this post, we’ll help you get to the bottom of any mold issues you may have and alleviate this smelly and potentially hazardous problem.
What is Mold?
Mold is a microscopic fungus that travels as spores in the air and dust all around us – inside and outside. It thrives in moisture and easily builds colonies. Mold can cause health problems for you and your family – such as sinus, allergy, and respiratory issues. Some molds produce deadly mycotoxins – the so-called “toxic molds” or “black mold” – which can cause neurological issues and even death. Contrary to popular belief, not all black-colored mold is the toxic type, and not all strains of toxic molds are black-colored. However, anytime you see mold, it bears investigation.
Causes & Prevention
To begin ridding your home of the foul odors and health hazards caused by mold and mildew – and to prevent them from re-occurring – here are some things you can do:
- Change air filters. If you have not been changing your air filter on a regular basis, change it! Your system’s filter pulls odor-causing contaminants out of the air and if the filter is overloaded, the captured contaminants could be recirculating back into your home when the air conditioner is in use.
- Clean-up the environment. Since mold spores are most prevalent in dust, be sure to vacuum and clean your surroundings regularly, including changing linens. Use exhaust fans while showering and cooking to dissipate humidity as needed.
- Fix leaks & replace seals. Make sure there are no active leaks around appliances and plumbing, in the basement, crawl space, and roof. Replace the seals around the tub, shower, or windows where moisture collects. If there was ever a flood where the carpet, flooring, or drywall got wet, don’t just “let it dry” – get it replaced! This can be a particular problem in Nashville, where so many houses were damaged in the 2010 floods, or experienced a burst pipe or ice damming in the winter which caused interior flooding.
- Fix drainage issues. Check for any standing water or drainage issues around the foundation of your home. This may be due to landscaping or erosion issues, or to faulty gutters. Get the basement waterproofed or install a sump pump, if necessary. See our video Excess Humidity: Causes & Solutions.
- Service the HVAC system. During a spring/summer HVAC maintenance visit, the evaporator coil and condensation lines are cleaned. This is crucial, since a condensate drip pan is the perfect environment for mold and algae growth and is the second leading cause of AC failure. See our video Clean Condensate Drain Lines to Prevent Mold.
- Check the ductwork. If you turn off your HVAC system and wait 20 minutes and the mildew smell or foul odor seems to dissipate, and returns when the system is back on, that could be a sign that the problem lies in your ductwork. Moisture and odors can enter the ductwork through a tear, gap, or hole in the duct, and then circulate through your home. In some cases, duct cleaning or replacing the ductwork may be necessary, but if caught early, just re-sealing the duct may do the trick.
- Test. Buy a home mold testing kit – easily obtainable at local hardware and home supply stores for under $10. Get at least one test kit per floor, and a separate one for the basement. After setting up the kit in the house for the required length of time (usually a few days), mail it off to a testing lab to find out what types of molds are present and whether there is cause for concern (note: a lab testing fee of about $40 may apply). If you’re buying a new or pre-owned home, get a professional mold inspection from a reputable company with appropriate certifications.
- Removal & remediation. Mold removal and remediation is a specialty of its own, and not something a homeowner should attempt themselves. It requires specialized training, equipment, chemicals, and wearing of personal protection devices. Use only companies that are specifically certified and licensed for this type of work.
If you care about the quality of the air you and your family breathes every day – and want to prolong your HVAC investment – call on Interstate AC Service at 615-832-8500. We’re here to help with all your heating and air-conditioning needs.