AC and Heating Tip from AC Express
What You Need to Know About Mold
AC repair in Austin covers a long list of possible services. One of those is fixing damage caused by mold. Mold is a serious issue that everyone should be informed about. It’s something that is much easier to deal with early on, so knowing how to recognize signs of mold will be of great benefit to you.
Knowing is half the battle, especially when it comes to mold. There’s a host of symptoms and effects that mold can cause. It comes in different types, due to different factors, and different geographical locations. It can lower your air quality and greatly affect your health. If you want to be able to recognize signs of mold and know what to do about it, read on.
Mold: What Is It?
Molds are microbes classified as a fungal species that are very common in places where people live. Much of the time, minute amounts of mold present no ill effects to people. The most common interaction people have with mold is when it grows on food that they’ve left out too long. I’m sure you’ve had a loaf of bread that started getting moldy after a week or so. Then you simply throw the moldy bread away and the problem is solved.
The danger that mold presents is not usually when it grows on our expired food, but when it grows in our air ducts and showers. The reason these two places are prone to mold growth is because of the moisture that accumulates there. Mold loves moisture and anytime there is a buildup of moisture over a significant length of time, mold can follow.
Mold thrives in environments that are damp, warm and humid. This makes them prone to invade your air conditioning system and your shower. Because mold reproduces and spreads easily, mold is fairly ubiquitous in places where people live. They float around and make up some of the dust that spreads and gathers in our homes and outdoors. Mold only becomes a problem when they start to form large colonies in wet areas in your home.
The two major ways in which mold can cause us harm is through allergies and mycotoxins. Most species of mold can cause allergic reactions in those that are sensitive to it. Some species of mold also produce toxic byproducts called mycotoxins. We call these types of mold toxic mold.
There are a number of types of mold that might be found in homes. Three types that are worth mentioning are Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Stachybotrys chartarum. Aspergillus is one of the most common mold types to be found indoors and can cause allergic reactions. Cladosporium is worth noting because unlike most mold types, it is prone to growing in cold areas as well as warm. It can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Stachybotrys chartarum is also known as toxic black mold. It is black in color and gives off a musty smell. Some of its potential health effects are allergic reactions, breathing problems, chronic sinus infections, asthma attacks, fatigue, and depression.
Signs and Symptoms of Mold
The most common problem caused by mold buildup in your home will be allergic symptoms. Some symptoms of an allergic reaction to mold include: a rash, watery eyes, a runny nose, itchy eyes, redness of the eyes, and coughing. If you experience some of these, you may be allergic to mold. If you think this may be the case, or you otherwise know that you’re prone to allergic reactions to mold, and you experience these symptoms more often in your home than outside, there may be mold in your home.
Allergy symptoms that happen more frequently in your home than outside are the most obvious sign of mold. Another sign of mold growth is the smell. Especially when it comes to mold buildup in your air vents, the growth of mold might coincide with a distinct smell. If you notice a musty smell in one or more of the rooms in your house, don’t ignore it, as it could be a sign of mold.
Another sign of mold is probably the most obvious; you can see it. If you see something that looks like mold in an area of your house, such as air vents or your shower, don’t ignore it. Mold will look either look like little white threads or small spots. The spots can be any color from black to green to brown to gray and white. Even the smallest sign of something that looks like mold is worth investigating further, as mold growth can spread quickly.
Even if you don’t yet notice any signs of mold, if you know there’s some kind of leak or water buildup problem in your home, be on the look-out for mold. This is when mold growth is most likely. Signs of water problems in your home include discoloration on the walls, cracks and warping in the creases and crevices of your home, and, of course, visible leaks. If you know your home has ever had water problems, or suspect it might now, call a professional, and check your air ducts, and the problem area, for mold.
What health problems can mold cause? As illustrated earlier, many people are prone to allergic reactions due to mold. This is the most common result of excessive mold growth in the home but there are others. In those with asthma, mold particles can induce an asthma attack. Finally, if you happen to be the victim of black mold growth in your home, you could develop a number of adverse symptoms that are more serious. The toxins released by black mold can cause anything from headaches, severe skin rashes, trouble concentrating, shortened attention span, dizziness, and problems breathing. Black mold can even lead to hospitalization or death in some of the more severe cases, so its detection and removal early on is of the utmost importance.
Mold and Your Air Conditioning in Austin
Because of condensation, moisture is prone to collect in the air conditioning system of your home. As previously explained, moisture is a breeding ground for mold. This makes your air ducts a prime location for mold buildup. If you start experiences symptoms of mold, such as a musty smell, allergic reactions in your home, or you spot signs of water damage, check your air ducts for mold. You can start by removing the metal covers of the air vents in your home and using a flashlight to inspect the openings for mold.
Testing is usually not recommended when it comes to mold. Once you spot mold in your home, removal is the most sensible next step. The EPA does not have standards established for mold growth, so there is no level at which health effects can be predicted.
Air conditioners are made to move air but in doing so, they also move everything else that might be residing in the air. This means that mold in your air ducts will quickly cause problems, as opposed to mold buildup in other places, where the effects might take longer to appear. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s bad because it means that any significant mold build up in your air ducts will likely cause you problems quickly. It’s good because it means that the signs of mold will appear more quickly, so you can notice, diagnose, and remove the problem.
Removing and Preventing Mold
It’s better to play it safe and call a certified mold tester if you’re not sure whether you have mold in your home or not. If you notice some of the signs, but you can’t see any visible mold in and around your air ducts, call a professional. They can quickly diagnose the problem by testing for mold in your home.
Once mold is detected, you have several options. The safest and most effective option is to have a professional remove the mold for you. This is what the Environmental Protection Agency recommends. Professionals have the equipment, skills, and experience necessary to remove mold quickly and effectively.
How mold should be removed depends on the extent of the spread and the type of surface that is infected. Mold in your air ducts, especially extensive mold growth, will almost certainly require a professional to make sure the job is done completely.
If the mold growth is not too extensive and occurs exclusively on hard surfaces like kitchen counters or your bathtub, it can be removed with a combination of detergent and water, and rigorous scrubbing. The surface should then be dried completely. For porous and absorbent surfaces like carpet and ceiling tile, either a strong commercial cleaner will work, or removal of the infected area may be needed.
When it comes to preventing mold, the first step is to identify problem areas in your house. Avoiding moisture buildup is the key to avoiding mold. Repair areas of your house that are prone to leaks. Damaged gutters, carpet in a damp basement, persistent leaks as noticed by water stains, these are all areas that can be improved in order to prevent future mold growth.
Proper ventilation is another important part of preventing mold growth. Crack windows when the weather allows for it, and especially when you’re doing something that creates moisture like cooking, cleaning clothes, and washing dishes. A dehumidifier might also be useful to you if you experience persistence problems with humidity and moisture.
Mold thrives in humidity at 70% and above. One of the simplest ways to prevent such an environment in your home is to just keep your air conditioning running. This will keep the air circulating and filtering, and the damp, warm environment needed for mold growth won’t occur.
Air Conditioning Repair in Austin Texas and Mold
One way mold can find its way into your home is a faulty air conditioner. An air conditioner in need of air conditioning repair might collect moisture which, given time, will lead to mold growth. Because of this, one of the best ways to prevent mold from infesting your home is to get regular air conditioning repair checkups.
At AC Express, we do regular checkups, as well as any kind of AC repair in Austin and the surrounding areas (Leander, Lakeway, Kyle, Taylor and more). Austin AC repair is our specialty, so if you’re having problems with your air conditioner, or just want to make sure everything is in working order, call today! We do same day AC repair! 512-452-COLD
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