Duct Cleaning and Mold Inspections - The Petri Dish in Your Ductwork

Duct Cleaning and Mold Inspections During the Fall and Winter Months - Don't Wait Until Spring Cleaning!

Fall is finally here. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and as the temperature continues to drop, people will increasingly rely on their furnaces for warmth. The furnace might not have been active since the previous spring, and may be in need of a duct cleaning.

As people spend more time indoors, they might notice a weird smell when the furnace first kicks on or maybe they will feel “off” and blame it on seasonal allergies or a persistent cold.

However, the real culprit might be mold, allergens and other toxins traveling throughout the home through the HVAC ductwork. This network connects all of the rooms of the house in order to maintain a stable temperature. The furnaces themselves, however, are often in damp and poorly ventilated basements, attics or garages, which means that the furnace could be pushing air throughout your home containing:

  • Particulates that have settled in the ductwork over the spring and summer months.

  • Mold spores from an undiagnosed problem in the basement, attic or garage.

  • Pet dander – even if the pets are kept in a different part of the home.

  • Cigarette smoke and its associated problems – even if smoking is restricted to a confined area.

  • Dust from a previous remodeling project.

You might be tempted to wait until spring cleaning to address these issues – after all, that’s when we throw open the windows and air our houses out – but by that time you’ve already been breathing in that mustiness for months.

Here are some reasons why the fall and winter months are ideal times to conduct duct cleaning and mold inspections.

Duct Cleaning Factor #1. This summer brought excessive moisture.

Mold grows in conditions that are damp and poorly ventilated, and because this summer was one of the wettest on record, we’ve been finding mold in places that have never had to worry about mold before.

Duct Cleaning Factor #2. We turn our furnaces on for fall.

As we mentioned above, furnaces are typically stored in places that are more likely to be associated with mold – basements, attics and garages. If there is a mold problem in any of those places, the furnace could potentially broadcast it throughout the house. When we find mold in an unexpected place, we can often trace it back through the ductwork to find its source.

Duct Cleaning Factor #3. Mold is less active in winter.

During the fall and winter months, the temperature drops, but more importantly, the relative humidity drops. Once the air dries out, mold – which prefers damp, poorly ventilated areas – will slow down its spore production rate and enter a sort of dormant state. This is beneficial for inspections and cleanings because the spores are less likely to be spread throughout the house as a result of the cleaning process. At Gladhill, we emphasize the containment portion of the mold remediation process with HEPA filters. However, if you’re trying to do it on your own, you could be sending spores airborne, which means they could settle in your lungs (aspergillus spores can live in the human body) and if they get into the ductwork, you could be spreading them throughout your house. Containment is still a very important step in the fall and winter months, but here is one time when nature can give you a boost.

Duct Cleaning Factor #4. Dirty ducts can literally make you sick.

There is essentially a large-scale science experiment in your ductwork. Ducts can be home to moisture, dander, dirt, mold and even bacteria. Legionnaire’s Disease is one example of an infectious disease that is born in and spread through HVAC ductwork. It’s doubly problematic because mold and bacteria that grow in one location can be spread throughout an entire home, office or hospital affecting people who are not in physical proximity to the source. This is why Gladhill fogs the ductwork with a sporicide and a product that will kill bacteria after it has been cleaned.

The fall and winter months are an ideal time to perform duct cleaning and mold inspections as well as other proactive steps including waterproofing and ventilation. Don’t wait for spring cleaning. By then, the humidity will have returned, the mold will be active again, and even the most thorough surface cleanings could end up spreading the mold to new areas of the house and making the problem worse.

We service Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, so contact us here or visit us at HomeAdvisor to schedule a duct cleaning and mold inspection.