Early-Stage Signs of Black Mold in Air VentsEarly-Stage Signs of Black Mold in Air Vents

Have you recently noticed a strange smell in your home? Are your allergies getting worse, even when you are indoors with the windows closed? Or are you experiencing nausea and headaches? Are you seeing little black spots appearing around your air vents?

Yikes! What on earth is happening?

Do not panic. There could be a straightforward explanation.

If you are experiencing any of the above, there is a chance your home is harboring the dreaded black mold. The quicker you tackle it, the better.

But do not despair or think that there is something wrong with your home. Be rest assured that it is not an uncommon problem. A recent report stated that 45 million buildings in the US have unhealthy levels of mold.

So, what are the tell-tale signs, and how can you be sure that what you are experiencing is black mold?

Signs of Black Mold in Air Vents

  • Visual Signs. An easy way to know if you have black mold is to look. If you can see some mold, it usually goes hand in hand with water damage. Look for signs of discoloration and dark patches on your walls. Another tell-tale sign is black dust around the air vents.
     
  • Health Problems. Unfortunately, inhaling black mold can have distressing effects on your health. Mold allergy is a genuine health problem. Millions of people in the US suffer from itchy eyes, runny nose, sore throat, lethargy, and skin rash. Black mold can also cause more severe health issues like Asthma.
     
  • Odor. If you have black mold, then you will most definitely be able to smell something unpleasant. The musty odor will lurk where there is excess moisture. Be aware of mold in damp areas such as bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.

What Causes Black Mold?
Mold spores can enter your home, though it does not become a problem until the spores become wet. Mold spores thrive and grow when in wet conditions, and that is when the issues start.

All molds are a natural part of our environment, as they help break down dead organic matter. In fact, without mold and decay, dead trees and leaves would cover the face of the earth.

Black Mold vs. Regular Mold
The problem is, different types of mold do tend to look the same, so you may not be able to identify it by appearance alone. Although it does not take a genius to guess where black mold gets its name? It is black, and sometimes it can be very dark with a green tinge. Either way, it is not pleasant.

Now the science bit. Black mold is a particular strain called Stachybotrys Chartarum.

slime molds video GIF by KQEDScience

You may not have heard of that before, but you may have heard of the term sick building syndrome. Black mold is at the root of that due to the mycotoxins (or toxic substances) that black mold releases. It is these toxins that cause allergic reactions in humans and animals.

Is Mold Around Air Vents Dangerous?
The short answer is - yes. If you see signs of black mold around your air vents, then you have a problem. That problem left untreated may lead to health issues.

Mold in Air Conditioner - Health Risks
If mold is in your air conditioning system, it stands to reason that it is also blowing around your home. Airborne spreading can cause various health conditions.

Inhaling the mold spores can cause sensitive individuals to have an allergic reaction. Mold spores can irritate the eyes, throat, lungs, and, if touched, the skin.

Common symptoms of black mold can include the following:

  • Itchy, irritated eyes
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Fatigue and headaches
  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired concentration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Asthma

How Common is Mold in Air Ducts?
There are contributing factors that increase the chance of mold growth in your air duct system. These include the location and age of your property. Mold thrives in warm and humid conditions; cold climates may never experience black mold. Keep HVAC systems clean to reduce mold taking hold.

If you live somewhere warm and humid, take extra care of your HVAC system. Also, if you have an older system, it is more likely to have damage where water can pool.

Is Mold in Air Ducts Covered by Home Insurance?
Yes and no, it depends on what caused the mold. Generally, you can claim for mold removal if it results from a sudden and unexpected accident. An example of this is a burst pipe which then causes mold growth. However, if you were somehow responsible for the mold, you would not be covered. E.g., if you did not maintain your HVAC system. Neglect is not covered.

While mold is growing in your home, it not only causes a variety of health risks but can also damage your home. Fixing mold damage can cost thousands of dollars. So first, check to see if your policy covers mold removal from air ducts. If not, you can buy a mold endorsement and add it to your home insurance policy.

HVAC Mold Removal
If you suspect that you have a black mold infestation in your air ducts, the first step is to have it inspected.

The EPA recommends the use of a NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) approved contractor. They will come and inspect your property. If you hire them for mold removal, and they will complete the following:

  • Clean your entire air duct system and vents, including drain pans, humidifiers, coils, ducts, vents, registers, grilles, diffusers, heat exchangers, blower blades, and fans.
  • Install new access doors in your sheet metal ducts.
  • Install new filters.

Check the surface of the outside and inside of each component of your entire HVAC to ensure it's 100% clean and free of dust and debris. Shine a flashlight into open areas to ensure you can see the light on the other side. Turn it on and check it works properly before they leave.

How to Clean Mold from HVAC Ducts
If black mold is an issue in your HVAC air ducts, you must act as soon as possible. The EPA advises against doing any mold remediation yourself. If done incorrectly, you could eventually cause more damage.

HVAC Mold Removers - EPA registered
If you want to tackle the clean-up process yourself, there are various products from which to choose. Be sure only to use mold removal products that are EPA registered.

HVAC Mold Fogger
A mold fogger could be a solution if you want to clean up and prevent mold. Plus, it helps to eliminate the musty smells associated with mold. It does this without harmful chemicals!

It atomizes a mold control product into a fine mist, which coats the surface getting treated.

This magic stuff not only eliminates existing mold it also prevents new mold growth. You can rent the Mold Fogger equipment from places like Home Depot.

If you would like a free personalized home insurance quote or a home risk assessment, get a quote below, and one of our insurance advisors will help you. Ask about our mold insurance endorsements.

Hope that helps!

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Young Alfred