Science has shown that prolonged exposure to elevated levels of mold and bacteria is not healthy, especially for children and elderly ones. Prolonged exposure can lead to allergies and asthma as well as fungal infections, some of which can be life-threatening. In homes, the problem is somewhat common. Anywhere that is moist for extended periods of time becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
Here’s an area that you may not have thought about though, that can be a potential hazard in your home, where you work, and where your kids go to school. That is your air conditioning system or HVAC. Coils inside of the air handler are an ideal environment for mold and bacteria. In humid environments, like that of the Southeast, the coils work to pull humidity out of the air. But where does that moisture go? When air passing through the coils reaches dew point it begins to condense on the surface of the coil, if there is enough moisture the water migrates down the coil and into the coils drip pan. This area if not drained will often times stay wet in humid environments. This becomes the breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Once the fungal growth has begun it will store moisture to provide nourishment for survival and growth, allowing it to spread.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
Once the mold or bacteria begin growing in the coils and pan they can begin adversely affecting the air quality inside your home. Once the mycotoxins and endotoxins have been released into the system they will filter virtually everywhere that air travels. These now airborne contaminants can threaten the health of everyone in the building.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF?
The best way to prevent your a/c system from becoming contaminated is regular maintenance. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends having a licensed HVAC contractor inspect and maintain your a/c unit at least once or twice a year in humid climates. Additionally, having your entire system cleaned routinely is a must. A full HVAC cleaning removes contaminants from your a/c components as well as the ductwork. Our process goes a step further by sealing the ductwork with a fungicidal coating to prevent contamination in the future. Click on our HVAC Cleaning page for more information.
Information compiled from Case Study-School District Tackles IAQ written by Jack Sine