When summer temperatures rise and individuals in a building begin to complain about musty smells, the culprit might be the building’s HVAC system if there is mold within the ductwork. As the air in the building circulates, it could blow mold spores onto documents and affect the health of the individuals inside. By knowing how mold infiltrates an HVAC system, you can act quickly to remedy the problem and prevent mold on documents.
Dangers of Mold
Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in humid conditions. It feeds on organic materials, from fallen leaves to the oil your fingers leave on a surface. Most types of mold spores are harmless to humans. However, there are a handful that release harmful mycotoxins that trigger allergies and asthma symptoms and cause serious health problems.
When conditions are optimal and molds grow on property, they become destructive. On documents, for example, molds discolor and stain pages, damage paper fibers and release a musty smell.
Signs of Mold in a Cooling System
- Musty smell: Rooms acquire the telltale odor, particularly when the A/C blows
- New mold growth: If you’ve taken strict measures to prevent mold on documents and in your building, but notice mold growth, spores might live in the ductwork
- Allergies: Individuals complaining of allergy symptoms during the warmer months could point to a mold problem in an HVAC system
- Ductwork leaks: When there’s a leak in the ductwork, the HVAC system will pull air from the areas surrounding the ducts. Ductwork leaks will cause uneven heating and cooling in a building, make some rooms feel more humid than others, and produce a musty smell. A professional ductwork inspection and repair will help reduce the amount of mold that circulates in a building.
- Dirty ducts: With time, ducts accumulate lint, dirt, dust and mold. Signs that ducts need cleaning include excessive dust levels, uneven temperatures and musty smells. Hire a professional ductwork cleaning service every few years to clean and inspect the ducts.
- Dirty air filter: When an air conditioning filter is dirty, the cooling system won’t circulate air as effectively. It will also be less effective at cleaning the air that enters a building. Change the system’s filter as often as the manufacturer recommends.
- A/C fan: When an air conditioning fan is set to the “On” position, the fan continuously runs. Incidentally, the moisture that condensed on the evaporator coil re-evaporates and the fan blows it into the building. This increases relative humidity levels in a building, which promotes mold growth. To remedy the problem, set the fan to the “Auto” position.
- A/C size: An air conditioner that’s too big for a building doesn’t dehumidify the air well because the system doesn’t remove the moisture in the air at full capacity for the first few minutes of operation. The shorter the air conditioner cycle, the less effective the unit is at removing moisture. The best way to remedy this is to replace the A/C unit with one that’s the correct size.
- Closed doors: Unless each room in a building has its own fully ducted return air system or its own return air transfer pathway, leave the interior doors in the building open. Otherwise, depressurization might lead to moisture problems and increased mold activity.
- Humid conditions: If you’re located in a humid area, an air conditioner might not be enough to control the humidity in a building. Adding a dehumidification system or a dehumidifier to rooms that store documents could deter mold growth.
Reasons Why an HVAC System Might Circulate Mold Spores and What to Do
If mold has noticeably infiltrated your documents, allow the specialists at Polygon to clean and restore them to avoid risking the health of your employees. Our advanced technologies allow you to have real-time access to your documents during the recovery process to minimize the impacts to your organization. Get in touch with Polygon to learn more.
[Bobo Boom via CC License 2.0]