As the summer quickly approaches, it’s important to recognize the imminent threat of mold on your commercial HVAC system. The EPA notes that mold is a byproduct of the environment which assists in decomposing organic matter. Although mold is an essential component of the outdoor ecosystem, it can quickly become a problem if discovered indoors.
Mold breeds best in warm, damp, and humid environments — making summer an optimal time for mold growth. One of the most unsafe places it can find a safe haven is in your commercial HVAC system. As more and more businesses begin cranking up the in-office air conditioning, an unkempt, leaky HVAC system potentially exposes employees to the harmful side effects of mold.
That said, here are 5 tips for remediating mold growth in your commercial HVAC system.
Regularly Maintain Your HVAC System
One of the most important things you can do to prevent mold growth is to regularly maintain your commercial HVAC system. It’s crucial to turn your HVAC system off before attempting to fix any internal damage — and be sure to wear protective gear like an N95 mask and gloves.
Air filters, which are crucial to maintaining optimal indoor air quality by inhibiting dirt and other airborne contaminants, are also at risk. When your system pulls warm air in, it is then cooled by the evaporator coils. And though the extra moisture will drip into the drain pan, some moisture may be absorbed by the air filter itself. This leads to reduced airflow and potential mold issues.
You should also keep tabs on your cooling tower. If unmonitored, factors like corrosion, water age, presence of standing water, and sediment buildup can lead to the cultivation of Legionella, as the CDC notes. This can lead to employees coming down with Legionnaires’ Disease — a form of lung inflammation and severe pneumonia brought on by the inhalation of Legionella. While Legionnaires’ Disease is often resolved on its own, some cases can actually be fatal, according to Mayo Clinic.
Keep an Eye Out for Water Leaks
Parts of the HVAC system to keep an eye out for are cooling coils, drain pans, air filters, and humidification and dehumidification equipment. According to Facilities Net, water buildup in drain pans can be dangerous if not attended to — harboring a breeding ground for mold, which thrives in wet environments. Clean, dry, and disinfect drain pans.
Look out for any wet spots or abnormally moist surfaces. If you suspect any leaks or water-related issues, repair immediately. Sufficient drainage areas and sloping can also guide water away from spaces that are susceptible to water damage.
Use a Mold Inhibitor
Mold inhibitors are a great tool that assist in keeping the fungus away from your HVAC system. Be sure to disinfect the system before applying any mold inhibitor. It’s also imperative that you use an HVAC-approved, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered solution.
Mold inhibitors, when applied to all components of the HVAC system, limit the growth of mold and eliminate any offensive odors caused by mildew and other fungi.
Invest in a Dehumidifier
Consider investing in a dehumidifier for your office or commercial workplace to remove moisture from the air. Not all commercial HVAC systems come with dehumidifiers, but having one installed can lead to decreased energy bills, a healthy working environment, and happy employees. Doing so will also lower the chances of fostering a microbial breeding ground for mold.
Condair recommends maintaining a relative humidity of 40 to 60 percent indoors for optimal comfort. OSHA also recommends that increasing surface temperatures and/or reducing indoor humidity can prevent mold growth. This will stop moisture from condensing.
Know the Signs of Mold Growth
Getting ahead of the curve is often overlooked in remediating mold growth. Knowing the tell-tale signs of a burgeoning mold outbreak can surely save you time, energy, and money.
According to WebMD, people — especially those with mold allergies — are at risk for irritation to the skin, nose, lungs, throat, and eyes if exposed to the fungus. Skin rashes, runny noses, red eyes, and sneezing can also occur. If problems as such arise with your employees, it may be a sign to check your HVAC systems for mold.
Professional Mold Remediation Services from Donnelly Mechanical
Mold growth can be tedious, especially inside of commercial HVAC systems. Our team of experienced professionals will be more than happy to assist you in all of your mold remediation needs. Contact Donnelly Mechanical today to learn more about how we can help you maintain a healthy work environment for all.