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HVAC mold question
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Riz
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HVAC mold question - March 21, 2017, 12:26 AM

So I have a hydronic heating system in the townhouse I rent, and I noticed when changing the filter in the air handler that it had black mold in that area. Admittedly, I had no idea there was a filter there so it has been accumulating for about 2 years now since I moved in.

My question is, what are the chances mold has spread through the vents? I am under the impression that mold cant spread like that unless there is moisture. I am not too familiar with hydronic forced systems but I am assuming that there would be greater moisture through the vents and therefore making it a more suitable environment for mold. I understand it can be airborne and we may have been inhaling it but I am wondering if after it is cleaned up in the handler, should it be good to go or should I get duct cleaning done (fyi, I am aware duct cleaning is considered a scam lol). I sitll havnt checked the hvac coils yet but will do so in the next few days or so.

If it matters, the TH was built in about 2000. Since we have been here, there have been no leaks, nor is there any moldy type smell. Thanks!
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March 21, 2017, 01:06 AM

Mold is present in just about every HVAC system. Very few will ever be mold free.
Most mold while unpleasant to look at or startling to see, is relatively harmless.
Toxic mold only forms under a specific set of conditions and in presence of the correct spores, and the symptoms are noticeable about 1 month of exposure.
A persistent cough or tickling in the chest.
Wheezing or difficulty breathing at night.
Headaches.
Eyes always feel dry.
Fevers.
General low immunity (someone in the house always seems to be sick).


If after 2 years none of those are present, I wouldn't be too worried. Vacuum the entire system and clean the coils and evaporator with a mixture of mild detergent and diluted bleach. Agitate with a soft bristle brush. Let dry. Vacuum again. Replace filter and move on.



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March 21, 2017, 01:10 AM

And yes, most mold tends to propagate in an environment that is frequently moist and has a consistent temperature above 70º.
Most household toxic mold issues rarely take root in the ductwork (unless you have a whole house humidifier).
The culprit is usually behind the walls - specifically drywall where it uses the cellulose and agents in the glue holding the paper to the substrate and paper like a petri dish and food.



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March 21, 2017, 07:10 AM

Its likely just limited to the AHU area. That's normal. Highly doubtful it is toxic mold, as not all black varieties are toxic. When you look at the coil, see if you can look down duct for any signs. If in doubt, call in an expert to test it. Won't hurt.
The environment there is good for growth. During the cooling cycle, the air is near 100% humidity from the coil to the registers. Keeping your fan on all the time helps prevent growth. Every time I change the filter I give the inside a spray of mold killer and leave it for an hour or so before running it. There is no noticable growth in mine after 10 years.


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March 21, 2017, 08:02 AM

Lots of good information here fellas, thanks!

Interestingly enough, i have had health issues starting a year ago with the development of an autoimmune disease. since than I have had constant minor things such as fatigue, joint pain, feelings of weakness, and massive shedding of hair which all have been attributed to that.

I agree, I highly doubt the mold is expansive enough for it to be toxic but given that I am also allergic to mold, I am starting to think perhaps I may be having an allergic reaction to it. I know this is probably all in my head but for the past few days I havnt been running the HVAC because I am waiting for parts to come in to replace the lines and my energy has been out off the charts, particularly noticeable at the gym as well as a noticeable decrease in shedding. But i highly doubt if there was anything related to mold exposure that I would see changes so quickly after being "out" of that environment.

For now I will just clean up the mold in the air handler as well as in the coils, spray those areas with mold inhibitor and call it a day. Thanks!
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March 21, 2017, 02:40 PM

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Originally Posted by Riz View Post
Lots of good information here fellas, thanks!

Interestingly enough, i have had health issues starting a year ago with the development of an autoimmune disease. since than I have had constant minor things such as fatigue, joint pain, feelings of weakness, and massive shedding of hair which all have been attributed to that.
Sorry to read about the illness.

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I agree, I highly doubt the mold is expansive enough for it to be toxic but given that I am also allergic to mold, I am starting to think perhaps I may be having an allergic reaction to it. I know this is probably all in my head but for the past few days...
Going to go out on a limb and say your allergies flaring up are probably more as a result of the unusually warm weather which sent everything that creates pollen and allergins into an early blossom cycle.



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March 21, 2017, 06:39 PM

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Sorry to read about the illness.



Going to go out on a limb and say your allergies flaring up are probably more as a result of the unusually warm weather which sent everything that creates pollen and allergins into an early blossom cycle.

Thanks, its nothing serious.

I actually always have had allergies since i moved , probably due to my cat. But the type of reactions im talking about are things like skin and joint inflammation in my knee which have kept my riding last season limited. but the knee is starting to feel better so hopefully ill be out there this season more
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March 24, 2017, 07:56 AM

odd question....

I noticed some small mold ONLY on pictures (plastic and glass surface) at my vacation house. It appeared years ago when it was left closed damn near a year. It was only opened/used about 6 days out of a year. I never took down the pictures and today I saw in noticed the spores on the picture and wonder if i should take the pictures down? and what kind of spores/mold could grow inside a house on glass.

IT first showed up about 2010. Since then ive used the house allot and it gets air flow n shit.

Any idea what kind of shit this is? I can take pictures.


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March 24, 2017, 10:26 AM

Do a mold test kit and send it off to a lab. It's $20.

One thing though... There's a form asking about the address of the home affected. I advise not putting your real address on there. It likely goes into a database and that's the last thing you want.

The tests will come back in about a week and will tell you the type of mold and if it's normal. Apparently it is normal to have some level of mold. All houses have it.

Mold is no joke and a $20 test is worth it to see if you have a problem.
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March 24, 2017, 10:46 AM

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Do a mold test kit and send it off to a lab. It's $20.

One thing though... There's a form asking about the address of the home affected. I advise not putting your real address on there. It likely goes into a database and that's the last thing you want.

The tests will come back in about a week and will tell you the type of mold and if it's normal. Apparently it is normal to have some level of mold. All houses have it.

Mold is no joke and a $20 test is worth it to see if you have a problem.
This, mostly. An air test would give you a better idea of what you're inhaling, which is probably what you're primarily concerned about. It's definitely more expensive since you need to hire a certified industrial hygienist but it's worth it if you have concerns. You'd be looking at somewhere between $250-350 depending on the number of samples you want taken. Brad is right in that mold is everywhere so you're never going t get rid of it; your only goal is to keep it within acceptable limits.

There are only a few common types of mold that generally considered harmful. Two of them are aspergillus and penicillum or something like that. Those are the most common ones I see on reports around here. In tiny quantities like you're talking about, even the "harmful" ones wouldn't be something I'd worry about. Clean them off and be done with it, but do it so that they don't spread.

The problem with closing the house is that there is virtually no air flow so moisture is trapped. If you know you're going to be closing it for an extended period of time, you might want to consider a couple exhaust fans just to get some air circulation in the house. Put them on a timer to kick on every so often and forget about it.


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March 24, 2017, 11:03 AM

Yeah, I noticed the mold only on the cheap k mart generic pictures the year it was only used like one or 3 days. other than that it was closed. This thread made me think about it. The pictures are still hanging lol and saw it again this morning and figured id ask...might take a pic and post it up.

Three rooms had the pictures and all three had the mold. rooms were also kinda dark for thos years. now that i use the house allot, i do not see it anywhere


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