AdvantaClean Discusses Miami Mold and Dust Ductwork Challenges

Can Education Clarify Miami Air Duct Contamination? 

A typical call we get is a customer claiming they have mold in their ductwork. They haven’t had a Certified Mold Assessor run the test through a lab, but they know they are suffering from allergies and are sure it's mold.

Our air conditioning systems run continuously for most of us in Miami, but many of us don’t maintain them correctly. AC ductwork, like everything else, accumulates dust over its lifetime. The National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) recommends inspecting residential air ducts at least every 7 years to see if they need cleaning.

Have you ever experienced a situation where you find an old book covered with dust, and when you open it, all that dust gets thrown into the air? Then you start sneezing, getting headaches, or coughing? That is your respiratory system's response to defend against dust through an “allergic” reaction. Mold and dust can be easily confused, as both are particles our respiratory system identifies as a threat. One way our bodies defend against that threat is with an allergic reaction.

Mold must have moisture to grow, but did you know that your AC ductwork is one of the driest places in your home? As part of the cooling process, your air conditioning system reduces the humidity of the air as it circulates through the coils. So the air that travels through the ductwork is almost always quite dry. For mold to be growing in your AC ducts, there would have to be a water leak that soaks the ductwork or condensation from an air leak when cold air in the duct encounters the humid air outside. In those cases, there would be a high probability of mold, but remember, in the State of Florida, only a Certified Mold Assessor can confirm the presence of mold.

Sometimes clients say they know they have mold because they have something black growing on the AC supply vents. While that could be true, it does not mean the entire system is compromised with mold. The explanation for this is simple:

Most AC vents are made of metal. When this metal is exposed to the cold, dry air expelled by your AC, it cools it. When we leave windows or exterior doors open, we allow hot, humid air into the house. Suppose we allow this for a long time. In that case, the temperature and humidity inside the house will begin to rise.

Now, the cold metal vents are exposed to warm, humid air, resulting in condensation. This is the same effect when a cold soda can is exposed to warm exterior temperatures. If there is dust in your ductwork, you now have created the perfect environment for mold growth on the ac vent. However, in these circumstances, the mold is not deteriorating the metal, and you can simply wipe it off.

With all this in mind, you may ask why this is important. According to NADCA, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and any Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) protocol, when there is confirmation of mold growth inside the ductwork, the only correct remediation procedure is the removal and disposal of the ductwork. Of course, replacing the HVAC ducting in your house will be very expensive. However, if you merely have dust inside the ducts, the solution is much faster and cheaper; and will not only fix the problem but will improve the indoor air quality of your property.

The best way to know what is going on is to call a professional mold and mechanical contractor who can guide you through the process. AdvantaClean of Miami offers free estimates to our clients to help you understand what is happening and how to avoid this situation in the future. Feel free to reach out at any time (786) 243-6782.

In the meantime, there is one particular symptom that can be easily identified and can help put your mind at ease: do you have to dust your property frequently? If you dust your furniture in the morning and you see a lot of dust accumulated again by the end of the day, then chances are you just need to have your ducts cleaned.