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Sunday Scaries: Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew and fungi, oh my!

One of the greatest concerns regarding HVAC systems is the accumulation of mold and mildew.  This is why it is important to select the right kind of roof or wall vent to compliment your HVAC system to flush out these scary fungi.  Without proper circulation within a home, hot and humid air can put pressure onto the surfaces of walls, floor, ceilings, and furniture. These conditions encourage fungi growth and spore germination to occur upon these surfaces. Most times these problems go unnoticed for an extended period, until their damage is irreversible. To take preventative action, it is important to understand why this growth occurs, where it is found, how it is spread, and the dangers behind it.

What is Mold and Mildew?

Mold and mildew are both variations of microscopic species of fungi that are found within the fungi kingdom. They are unique for their multicellular filaments called hyphae, used to release enzymes and extend out in search of food sources. They thrive on any organic matter with moisture management problems, allowing them to germinate. While there are similarities between the two, molds and mildew are unique in their size, color, and texture.

Mildew is unique in its flat growth habit, where it elongates instead of elevates. It is often found in locations like shower walls and windowsills where high concentrations of moisture settle. Mildew presents itself in small black, gray, white or brown spots with a powdery texture. It generally remains flat on the moist surface. Mildew has a very distinctive musty odor, which is often the main indicator of growth occurring. Due to its growth pattern, mildew is often easier to clean and not as invasive, therefore making it less dangerous in comparison to mold.

Mold growth is far more concerning to the homeowner due to its difficulty in removing and its toxicity to the body. Mold toxicity is dependent on the proximity of the mold, the period of inhalation, and the type of mold. Some of these molds are very moderate, presenting themselves as allergy or fever-like symptoms whereas other variations can greatly impact the immune system. The three classifications of molds within the home are allergenic, pathogenic, and toxigenic. Each of these classifications are unique in their symptoms and how they attack the body.

Mold in HVAC:

There are six types of molds that are commonly found within the HVAC system. Of these six, three of them are toxigenic to the human body. Variations like Alternia and Cladosporium of the Allergenic classification, can produce difficulties with asthma and allergy-like symptoms. Aspergillis Fumigatas of the Pathogenic molds grows in or on the tissues and organs of an individual, creating fungal infections. It is common in indoor system and usually enters the system through respiration. HVAC systems also house molds like Acremonium, Trichoderma, and Stachybotrys Chatarum of the Toxigenic variations. Stachybotrys or “Black Mold” is the most commonly recognized species for its extremely dangerous properties. Stachybotrys comes in a black, dark brown or green color and hides itself in places like HVAC ducts. It can present itself as a black slime or circular furry spots with flecks of orange or white. Stachybotrys produces mycotoxins which can cause severe pain, breathing problems, and infections while also attacking the Central Nervous System. These other toxic molds can create concern for their carcinogenic properties that affect the immune system, brain, internal organs and bone marrow within the system. Regardless of the mold type, your HVAC system is a mainstream location for growth. Giving adequate attention to your HVAC system can be significant to the health of you and the ones you love.

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew/ Products That Help:

Increasing the circulation of fresh air within a home is one of the best preventative actions against mold and mildew. Places like the attic and basement are among the most common locations where humidity and moisture control are overlooked, creating a comfortable environment for mold growth. Static air ventilation products like FAMCO JVO’s, Gable Vents and J Vents can help increase attic ventilation to decrease chances of humidity accumulation. Foundation vents for basements are also helpful in promoting circulation patterns for underground spaces. For other areas of the home, open windows, use fans, and monitor any areas with increased moisture. Changes in colors or odors should be checked out by a professional as soon as possible. Check out your HVAC system throughout the year and be weary of any smells or symptoms that could be linked to mold.

Don’t let fear of mold and mildew hold you back; act in your home with FAMCO today!

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