How To Detect Mold In Your Window Air Conditioner
Most homeowners expect to discover mold in basements, leaky areas around roofs, and under carpets that are old or that have gotten wet at one time. But, not many are aware of the danger that lurks inside their air conditioner.
The first sign of mold the homeowner typically recognizes is a musty smell that fills the room often without the visual detection that there are active mold spores present. Mold in a home can lead to serious health issues and it doesnt take long for the symptoms to begin.
If you continue to smell this odor, rest assured there is mold somewhere in your home. However, if the smell is stronger when you turn the unit on, chances are there is mold growing in it somewhere, even if you are unable to find where at the time.
Extensive mold removal and repair cost can accumulate just as fast if the mold isnt detected early. If the discovery of mold is early enough and prompt action is applied, the homeowner can get a handle on the danger before it progresses too far.
Chances are you will be able to see mold in your AC if you make a thorough inspection or if you remove the filter and examine it, there could also be visible traces there. Even if it is too soon to see active mold on or around the filter, yet the smell it there, do a detailed inspection of the coils and around the motor for any signs of onset growth activity.
Is Your Ac Is Growing Mold
You dont need to look inside to notice if a foul smell coming off the AC as you turn it on. People call this the dirty-sock syndrome. Simply put, it smells like youre in a room full of dirty socks! Also, its like that locker room odor it comes off from a locker room that hasnt been opened and cleaned for a very long time.
So thats the first thing youll notice when mold has infiltrated your air conditioner.
Eventually, you may start feeling the symptoms of respiratory issues that Ive listed above.
And with the right combination of summer heat, humidity, and precipitation, your AC will likely continue to breed mold.
So how will you prevent mold from wreaking havoc on your AC? Andyour personal health?
What Causes Mold To Form In Air Conditioners
Mold in air conditioning units is mostly the result of not cleaning the system or having regular maintenance done on it. Over time, your ac unit will collect a large amount of dust and dirt from inside and outside your home, which mold can feed on.
Therefore, cleaning and having yearly HVAC maintenance done pays off in the long run because mold deteriorates and destroys the surfaces it grows on. If it finds its way onto vital components within the system such as styrofoam and coils, it will not function correctly and eventually cease to work while causing health problems for the house occupants.
Leakages within the ac unit are another cause, which is usually the result of an incorrectly installed system or due to a lack of maintenance. The water which accumulates attracts more dust than usual, and both the water and dust fuel mold growth within the air conditioner.
The final cause of mold in the ac unit is from not running it regularly. If it stands unused for extended periods , mold spores will get a chance to develop into mold. Its recommended to run your ac unit each day for a few minutes to clear out the vents. That way, when summer comes around, you wont have any nasty surprises.
Recommended Reading: Will An Ozone Machine Kill Mold
How To Remove Mold From A Window Air Conditioner
This includes your eyewear, mask, and gloves. Wear them to prevent getting yourself contaminated with anything toxic.
Unplug the unit from the primary power source. You wouldnt want to mess with sparks.
You also wouldnt want the dirt and the spores to get stuck inside your living room.
Usually, you can do this by pulling the grille forward and then pushing it down a little. Of course, you may have to unscrew it first.
If its a disposable one, then dispose of it. You can just install a new one. But, if its a washable filter, then you can wash it with water and laundry detergent. This brings us to the next step.
Your kitchen sink will do. Just fill the sink with hot water. The volume should just be enough to cover the filter when you put it in there.
Let the filter soak for about 15 minutes. Once done, scrub the filter thoroughly on both sides. Finally, rinse the filter with clean water. Then hang it so it can dry.
This cover would be located behind the ACs front body grille. You can simply unscrew it and then lift it upward.
You can use the appropriate vacuum hose attachments to suck out dirt from the unit. If you see any mold growth, this is the time to wipe them out.
How To Detect Mold In Your Air Conditioner
Every homeowner should know how to spot mold in their cooling system. It may be difficult to detect that a problem is growing in your house. The more time
spent undetected the more time that the mold can spread, so be careful and check your units on a routine basis.
You can test for mold in your AC system by being aware of what to look for, and what smells occur in your home. Here are some signs that there may be some fungi lurking there:
- A noticeable musty smell near the air vents in the indoor environment.
- The distinct odor increases when the air is running.
- Patches of black fungi are visible around the vents, evaporator coils, or drip pans.
- You or your family have an irritated throat, nose, eyes, or sinus passage when the cooling is on.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Mold In Toilet Bowl
How To Prevent Black Mold Around Air Vents
Preventing black mold from developing is the simplest way to ensure you have good air quality inside your home. Small changes, such as using a HEPA filter in the air conditioning system, are recommended to maintain the cleanliness of the vents. Annual maintenance of all parts of your system, including the coils, can also help reduce the risk of mold spores entering the ducts. You will typically need to have a professional inspect and clean your furnace or air conditioning system annually to complete these tasks.
If you live in a humid environment or experience a lot of humidity in the home, then you may want to consider investing in a dehumidifier. The dehumidifier can remove excess moisture from the air, which is needed for mold spores to thrive. Lastly, maintaining cleanliness in the home by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly and limiting the amount of dust in the home can reduce mold spores. If you are renovating and there is a lot of dust, then you can close off vents with plastic sheeting to keep vents clean.
How To Prevent Styrofoam Mold In Window Air Conditioners
- Use Fan Mode to Dry the Interior of the AC
Almost every air conditioner should have a fan mode that you must regularly to avoid moisture building up inside the AC units.
- Clean Your Window AC Once or Twice During the Cooling Season
If you keep your home clean at all times, you wont need to remove mold so often since you wont let it form in the first place.
Cleaning it once or twice during the cooling season should be enough.
- Remove Dust
Mold tends to feed on the dust inside the unit and uses water and humidity spots to grow even more.
Therefore, you should occasionally take some time to clean the unit of any potential contaminants. Go all the way back from the filter to the cover.
- HEPA filters
Every air conditioner has some filter but usually, a standard filter wont keep the mold from spreading in your home.
You can opt for HEPA filters on your unit, as they can hold back smaller particles as well.
- UV filters
For your home to be safe from mold, you might also want to invest in a UV filter. These filters can kill 99% of bacteria and viruses, which means that mold doesnt have a chance.
- Controlling your indoor air quality
Most of the mold from your AC is caused by the situation in your homes indoor and outdoor environment.
Use a dehumidifier, as it picks up water from the air. Perhaps you can also clean the mold spots in your home with bleach .
- Run Your AC regularly
Recommended Reading: How To See If There Is Mold In Your House
What You Need To Know About Getting Rid Of Mold In A Window Air Conditioner
If you think your air conditioner might have mold in it, its important to act quickly.
According to the CDC, exposure to moldy environments can cause a variety of health effects. Similarly, the EPA says mold spores produce allergens and irritants, and touching or inhaling them can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
Mold can even cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold!
Unfortunately, under some circumstances there can be so much mold on the unit that its nearly impossible to completely remove all of it. In these situations, a new air conditioning unit is needed because if the mold is not entirely removed, it will grow back over time.
Read on to determine if your air conditioning unit needs replaced.
How Do I Keep The Dust Out Of My Air Conditioner
Dust and molds grow indoors when the indoor air is not cleaned and humidified.
With the vacuum cleaner attached to your air conditioner, you will be able to clean up the internal elements without having to run the vacuum cleaner.
To clean your air conditioner, remove the filter and wash it in the sink with a solution of half a cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. Wash the filter in this manner and rinse it with water, and then put it back.
Also Check: How To Get Mold Off Wood Furniture
Keep The Ac Always On As Much As Possible
It may sound a little impractical, financially speaking. But turning your AC on can help against mold growth.
When your AC is not on, moisture will soon build up within the house. The temperature inside may rise, and the air would be stale. All these factors favor the growth of mold, but your AC can keep them all out. Of course, thats only possible if it stays on.
So, do you really just leave it on? Yes, but turn it into auto mode. This function will cycle the air inside and keep it in optimal conditions.
Cleaning Central Air Conditioners
As mentioned above, cleaning each part of an AC unit takes a different tool and different method. Below, you will find those methods outlined in more detail.
Cleaning the condenser and condenser unit is best done as outlined above. However, there are a few instances when a garden hose and fin brush arent enough. If the debris and dirt are too hard to remove and are clogging the find, there is another method you can utilize to get them clean.
The best option is to use a propane torch. Propane will burn hot enough to melt away any grime, debris, leaves, and other stuck-on messes from the fins and coils. But unlike MAP gas or an acetylene torch, it doesnt burn so hot that it can damage the unit.
Just make sure the torch stays away from the wiring, compressor, fan motor, and electrical panel. You will want to use slow, sweeping motions from top to bottom until the debris is burned away. After the coils and fins have cooled down, rinse clean with the garden hose.
Cleaning the filter will depend on the type of AC and the type of filter. Central and mini-split systems mainly use paper filters with 30 to 90-day replaceable filters. These do not need to be cleaned. Instead, you just buy a new one and replace it.
Locating the unit isnt always easy, and access is usually more than just a couple of screws. However, once the access panel is located and opened, you should be able to access the coil area with some ease.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Treat Black Mold Exposure
How To Clean Your Window Air Conditioning Unit
Keeping your air conditioner unit clean will help prevent future-extensive, and possible very expensive repairs from occurring as well as maintaining the reliability and efficiency of your A/C for several years.
While it is important that you leave major air conditioning cleaning and upkeep to the professionals at All Hours Air, there are a few tips for you to use for keeping your A/C clean.
Ways To Get Rid Of Mold In Window Air Conditioners
You should always clean your air conditioner in a well-ventilated room. Note that you might be using bleach. Be careful, as its very dangerous if it gets into your eyes or mouth, and you cannot get it off your clothes.
First, you need to unplug the unit and remove the grille cover. Most of the time it snaps off, but in some situations, you might need to unscrew it. Then you should shine a flashlight into the air conditioner and look for mold. It can appear green, brown, or black, and is sometimes fuzzy. One common type of mold also has a gray or white color.
If you find a few traces of mold inside, youre in luck! You can probably just clean that off. However, if over 1/3 of the unit is covered with mold, you should consider replacing the whole AC.
You can use Tilex spray for black mold. Spray it onto the mold, wait a few minutes, and wipe it off with a cloth of your choice.
Here are the detailed instructions you can follow to get rid of black mold in window air conditioners.
- Start by drawing approximately 2 inches of water in a large sink or bathtub. Add a healthy amount of dish soap. Mix the soap with the water to create a soapy solution.
- Use a wet cloth to wipe the outside cover of the AC. Clean it well to avoid getting any dirt inside once you open the cover.
- Let all the parts dry completely before you reassemble your air conditioner. Then you can plug it back in and turn it on. If there is some stuff coming out of the AC, dont be alarmed!
Also Check: Is It Bad To Breathe In Mold
How Do I Get Rid Of Mold In My Air Conditioner
Cleaning up mold can be difficult, messy, and the process of cleaning mold out of an air conditioner is dependent on the type of unit. Car AC units, window units, and central AC units differ greatly regarding the resources needed to eradicate them of mold. Regardless of what you are cleaning, the area where you perform the clean-up should be well-ventilated, and you should wear non-porous gloves and a face mask with goggles, especially if you are sensitive to mold. Mold can be wiped up with a household cleaner and a cloth or sponge. Bleach is not needed to remove mold. If mold has grown on a porous surface such as wood, plaster, carpet or upholstery, you will probably not be able to get rid of all the mold. The moldy item or section will need to removed, thrown away and replaced.
Window unit: By the time you see small mold spots forming on the air direction vanes or grate of your window air conditioner, it is probably too late. The mold you see is just the tip of the iceberg. You can disassemble the unit and try to clean mold from the internal air ducts, coils, evaporators and other parts, but there is always a chance you will miss some and the mold will simply grow back. A moldy window unit likely needs to be replaced.
What Can You Spray On Air Conditioner Coils
If you prefer not to use a commercial cleaner, a mild detergent and water works just as well sometimes to clean the coils. Mix a simple detergent and warm water in a spray bottle or garden sprayer. Spray the solution onto the evaporator coils and give it a few minutes to soak in and loosen the dirt and debris.
Recommended Reading: Can Mold Survive Without Moisture
Clean The Front Housing
Just like you need to clean the interior, the front part needs to be cleaned as well. After all, if any mold spores have formed there, it will be enough to allow it to replicate and send it straight to the room.
Use the cleaner on the cover of the AC just like you used it on the inside. After you allow it to sit, rinse with some hot water or wipe with a wet cloth to remove mold that has remained.
You may also finish off with a dry rag to ensure the space is no longer humid.
How To Remove Mold From Air Conditioner
We dont recommend that homeowners attempt to clean a central air unit or ventilation . If, on an inspection of a small self-contained unit, you have decided to tackle it yourself, heres what youll need to do:
If youre intimidated by the above work, remember: hiring a mold removal expert is always a safe and sure-fire way of getting mold eradicated.
Also Check: How To Clean Mold From Boat Seats