What Does Black Mold in the A/C Unit Mean?


Black mold is a serious problem for many homeowners, especially if anyone living inside the home has asthma, allergies or another serious respiratory disease. Mold can grow anywhere moisture is present, such as where pipes are leaking or in the air conditioning unit. Homeowners with mold growing in their air ducts should have them cleaned if there are visible signs of mold growth.


  • Mold spores are present everywhere in the environment, including inside your home. These spores enter your home through air conditioning units, open doors and on our shoes. Mold begins to grow when moisture is abundant and grows on many types of surfaces including wood, fabric, cardboard, drywall, carpet and upholstery. Black mold is also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, which has been linked to serious health effects including fungal infections in the lungs and asthma.


  • There are some substances that look similar to mold, but are not actually mold. You may wish to have a mold test performed to determine if mold is present in your air conditioning unit before having it professionally cleaned. Microbiology laboratories can diagnose mold growth by examining a sample of the substance in question on a strip of tape, according to the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. If mold is growing inside your air conditioning unit, mold spores are released into your home each time the unit comes on.


  • Black mold growth can cause adverse health effects such as allergic reactions in mold sensitive people and increased frequency of asthmatic episodes in those with asthma. Other symptoms associated with mold exposure include nasal congestion, itchy eyes, wheezing, difficulty breathing and cough. Those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis are at an increased risk of developing serious mold-related symptoms. People with compromised immune systems may also be at increased risk of fungal infections of the lungs.


  • If you smell mold when your air conditioner comes on or you can see mold inside your air ducts, you may have mold growth. Wet or moldy insulation cannot be cleaned so you must replace it. Consult a mold specialist regarding the procedures for cleaning or replacing mold in your air conditioning ducts. If the cause of moisture is not corrected, the mold will return after cleaning. While black mold is considered to have toxic potential, the EPA recommends treating all mold growth as potentially dangerous and clean it up to avoid adverse health effects.

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