Yuck! Mold in the AC

If your home is equipped with central air, you probably don’t need to read this post. But if you have mini-splits or window AC units, there are necessary steps you must take to ensure your AC doesn’t make you sick! Did you know that the environment inside mini-splits and window units are a haven for black mold? Ew! From allergies to just plain gross, we do NOT want mold growing there!

Mold inside Air Conditioner Vents

Why Mold Grows:

As an air conditioner unit works, both moisture and dust are pulled into it. Couple those ingredients with a dark interior, and you have a perfect environment to spawn mold spores. Individual spores are too small to see, but as mold aggregates, it becomes visible as black spots on the louvers. You also may sense a foul odor as the unit runs.

How to Clean the Mold:

There are parts which a homeowner can easily clean. Before you begin, consider wearing a dust mask to protect your respiratory system from airborne spores. Start by removing the vent cover. It may be attached with screws, or it may attach with a simple pressure clip. Put the vent cover in a tub or basin, add laundry detergent and water sufficient to submerge the vent cover. Let it soak for 15 minutes, and then rinse and allow it to completely air dry.

Behind the vent cover, you will see some sort of air-directing louvers. Some are flat and straight, while others are curved and corkscrew-shaped. These are much easier to clean and disinfect if removed. Gently try to pop them out, but do not force them. Some cannot be removed. As you did with the cover, begin by soaking the louvers with detergent, rinse and air dry. If you cannot remove the louvers, wipe them as well as you are able with hot, soapy water and air dry. Next, for both removed and in-place louvers, wipe every surface with a solution of 1 C. bleach to 1 gallon of water. Once more, allow to dry completely.

If you removed the louvers, you should also wipe the inside area behind the louvers with soapy water and treat with the bleach solution.

The final area which a homeowner can access is the filter. Some units have a disposable filter. Simply remove it, clean that area with soapy water and then bleach solution and let dry, and then insert a clean, new filter. If your unit has a reusable filter, first vacuum it and then wash it in the soapy water solution, rinse and hang up to dry thoroughly.

After all parts have been cleaned and dried, you may reassemble the unit.

How to Prevent Mold in the First Place:

Remember that the black mold grows because it has moisture, dust and darkness? The darkness is not something you can change, but the other two factors can be modified. Frequently cleaning/replacing the air filter helps to minimize the dust which your AC unit draws in. In addition, regular vacuuming will also reduce dust. Second, understand that moisture inside the unit will collect as the unit runs, but doesn’t really cause a problem as long as the unit is running. When you plan to turn off your AC unit, letting it run for about 30 minutes on just fan (no condenser running) will help to evaporate any remaining moisture inside the unit. This simple step can help to prevent a breeding ground for mold spores.

Have a healthy and happy summer, staying cold with no mold!

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