The primary byproduct of air conditioning is moisture. Both central air and portable units are susceptible to attracting mold spores because they provide oxygen rich and moist environments that molds thrive in. Molds are a type of fungi that produce microscopic cells called spores that are easily spread through the air, especially with the help of an air conditioner.
Air conditioners can become breeding grounds for mold when dust gets deposited on the cooling fins and becomes damp as the air conditioner condenses water out of the air. This damp dust provides the setting for mold growth. An air conditioning system that is properly designed, installed and maintained should not cause mold growth. However, systems that are improperly designed or oversize may cool the air, but not remove enough moisture. Mold growth can also appear in air conditioning systems have been improperly installed, are in need of maintenance or that have water drainage problems.
Unchecked mold growth can lead to health problems. Touching mold or inhaling mold spores can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. In addition to respiratory problems and fungal infections, mold exposure can also irritate the eyes, lungs, nose, skin and throat. Those at greatest risk of adverse health effects from mold exposure are individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies, infants, small children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
Ways To Prevent Mold Growth In Air Conditioners Include:
o Make sure the condensation pan is not overflowing, causing water to collect on the floor. Make sure the drain line is clear and unblocked.
o Regularly clean air conditioning filters and allow them to dry thoroughly before before reinstallation.
o Have semi-annual maintenance checks on your HVAC system and duct work conducted by professionals.
o Install an ultraviolet (UV) light in a duct near the condensation pan.
Moisture control is the key element to keeping an air conditioning system free of mold. Any signs of water damage around the air conditioning system need to be addressed within 24-48 to prevent mold growth. Visible moisture around the base on an air handler is often evidence that the condensation hose or drain pipe is blocked and should be flushed immediately.
If you discover mold on hard surfaces, wash it thoroughly with detergent, bleach and water and dry the area completely. Remember, there is no foolproof way to eliminate indoor mold growth; the best defense is to control moisture to inhibit a mold-friendly environment.