Cleveland HVAC Blog

Indoor Air Quality & Mold: What You Should Know

Posted by Paul Wadsworth on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 @ 08:56 AM

MYTH: All mold is bad. Not so. Moldy cheese can be delicious—think bleu. And forest ground cover would keep piling up if mold didn’t eat away at the dead plant matter.

But what’s good for dead plant matter is not the best for your house. If you’ve ever had to deal with moldy dry wall or carpet, you know the damage mold can do to material. Mold in your home can also have a bad effect on indoor air quality.

Here’s what we know from the EPA: mold produces tiny spores to reproduce, much like a plant produces seeds. These spores are released into the air, where they can settle on surfaces. If the surface is damp, the mold may begin to grow. The cycle of life continues. The problem is magnified when that surface is in a room with HVAC equipment or an air intake vent. Mold spores or microbial volatile compounds—mVOCs are the chemicals that make mold smell bad—can easily be dispersed through your whole home this way.

What are some of the health effects associated with molds and mold toxins that affect indoor air quality? Some people are allergic to airborne mold spores and develop the classic allergy symptoms of runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Others develop a skin rash. Asthma sufferers can experience increased symptoms. Although much less common, people can develop hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is similar to bacterial pneumonia. What can you do to protect the quality of your indoor air?

The key is moisture control. Molds are omnivores—they eat practically anything. If you cut off their water supply, however, they won’t survive.

Where does the water come from? Sometimes it’s an “environmental” factor. Bathroom tile, basement walls, leaky fountains or sinks—these are all prime spots for mold infestation. Other factors are maintenance related—a leaky roof, plumbing drips, or a basement without adequate waterproofing. Uncontrolled humidity can also give mold the water it needs, particularly if you live in a hot, muggy climate. (Sort of like our area has been lately.)

The obvious remedy is to fix anything that is leaking as soon as you find out about it. Identify the substances that you are dealing with so that you can respond appropriately and safely.  Thoroughly clean and dry contaminated areas using the recommended personal protection and cleaning materials. Make sure you have a dehumidifier running in humid parts of your house that are not connected to your HVAC system. Anything you can do to cut off the water supply will help control mold and improve indoor air quality.

P.K. Wadsworth services the Greater Cleveland, OH area including cities Chagrin Falls, Shaker Heights, Eastlake or anywhere in between.  To get started, check out our website.

Topics: bacterial pneumonia, volatile compounds, moisture control, mold infestation

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