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Black mold is made up of several species of mold, which belong to the fungus family. They appear as dark green, grey, or black mass. They are found almost everywhere in the environment, especially in dumps, humid and dark areas. They cause health problems to people when inhaled or ingested, especially people with allergic reactions.
The mold consumes organic substances and moisture. And it releases spores into the air which can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin into your body. It is commonly found in wood, cotton, and any other surface that is mostly moist. For instance on dump walls, ceilings, insulation surfaces, carpets, and furniture among others. It is interesting to note that the mold does not grow on glass, metal, or plastic surfaces as they cannot retain moisture.
In homes, black mold is a common phenomenon. It is commonly found in air vents where the spores are circulated. They are found in the air vents because there is a good breeding ground for them, which is oxygen and moisture.
When you inhale or ingest black mold, there are health risks associated. This can manifest in different ways from simple allergic reactions say coughing, and itchy eyes to severe or long-term diseases like lung damage, asthma, brain inflammation, and neurological deterioration, among others. The impact of black mold on your health varies in terms of exposure and the number of spores inhaled. The reaction also varies from one person to another.
The most common effects of black mold on your health include but are not limited to:
- Sour throat
- Difficulty in breathing
- Fatigue and headaches
- Coughing and sneezing
- Itchy or irritated eyes
This implies that you should be cautious of your environment and regularly have the air vents checked and cleaned by a professional in order for you to remain healthy.
Signs of Black Mold in Air Vents
You have to appreciate that spotting black mold in your air vents is not an easy thing as you are most unlikely to pay attention to your air vents. However, the following are some of the signs to look out for;
1. Black dust
If you notice any black colorings around your air vents, ceilings, or walls, it means that they are most likely collecting black dust on them. The black color is most likely to be difficult to get rid of.
2. Musty odors
This is an unpleasant musty or earthy smell that could be emanating from your air vents. This is a sign that the black mold could be piling up in your air vents.
3. Body reactions
Your body is very sensitive to the environment and it can easily detect a change if exposed to the black mold. This can take the form of an allergic reaction like itchy eyes or sneezing. You can easily associate these symptoms with inhaling the spore especially if they occur when you are mostly indoors.
Eradicating Black Mold
You notice that it is difficult to get rid of black mold but it is possible if the correct method is applied and an expert or professional is involved. The process involves cleaning your air vents with a vacuum cleaner and the required detergents thoroughly to prevent the black mold from growing back. It is prudent that you engage a professional because they would correctly identify the problem and further, prevent its recurrence.
You need to follow these steps;
- You need to contact a certified mold inspector who would inspect the mold and certify that indeed it is black mold or a totally different substance. This will help you avoid wasting resources on an otherwise different substance.
- You need to carefully examine the insulation around your air ducts. This will help you access the extent of the spread of the black mold. If it has spread over a significantly large area, you will be required to replace the insulation.
- You need to clean and disinfect the air vents using the approved cleaning agents and proper tools.
- You need to find out what really caused the growth of the black mold and prevent the recurrence of the same, otherwise, it shall grow back.
Preventing Black Mold
1. Change AC filters regularly
This is the most effective way of preventing the growth of black mold. By changing the AC filters, you shall be preventing the clogging of your air vents by the buildup of debris. The change of AC filters depends on the number of people that live under your roof, for a big number, consider carrying out the change between 30 to 60 days. If you own a pet, consider changing the filters more often.
2. Mold inhibitors
This is very ideal when you want to paint your house. Here, you need to add mold inhibitors to your paint before having your house painted. These are found in paint stores.
3. Clean ducts regularly
You are encouraged to employ a technician to clean and have your air ducts maintained in a good functioning condition at least twice a year.
4. Fix problems immediately
You need to be on the lookout for any malfunctioning of your air ducts and have any problems fixed immediately. This will save you costs of major repairs and any other associated costs.
5. Watch wet spots
You need to dry all wet surfaces as soon as you notice the spillage. This will keep the black mold away as it cannot thrive in dry surfaces.
6. Maintain gutters
When you leave your gutters to leak, it will encourage the growth of black mold. You need to have them repaired and be on the lookout for wet spots after rainfall so that you have them fixed immediately.
7. Improve ventilation
Good air circulation will prevent the air from retaining moisture and prevent the growth of black mold. You can achieve this by putting furniture away from walls, and opening windows. This is highly recommended in areas with high moisture content like the kitchen and bathroom.
8. Use the carpets strategically
You can achieve this by avoiding carpets in rooms that have a high moisture content and removing any damaged mats from your house.
9. Monitor humidity levels
You need to maintain the humidity level in your home at the desired standards which range between 30 to 60 percent. This is ideal because low levels of humidity cause undesired dryness. On the other hand, higher levels of humidity cause the growth of black mold.
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.