When you see black dust around the air vents, you are bound to wonder whether it is normal or something to be concerned about. Obviously, hygiene and safety are a top priority, so one should never take chances with them. Anything which was not there earlier and has now appeared should be a cause for concern. The black duct around the air vents is probably:
1. Soot from the fireplace.
2. Dust or dirty insulation.
3. Mold spores.
Soot, dust, and dirty insulation are not major causes of concern. Nevertheless, since they are darkening your walls, they should be cleaned and their source eliminated. Mold spores, on the other hand, should never be taken lightly because they are detrimental to your good health. Today, we shall discuss all three types of black dust and understand how they can be controlled to maintain the hygiene and aesthetics of your home.
Soot From Fireplace
When wood burns, it produces a black powdery or flaky substance called soot or ash. When the AC is running, it sucks air from the house, cools it, and sends it back inside your house. Invariably, the soot suspended in the air gets sucked into the ducts, and out it comes from the vents. Usually, soot around the vents can be seen during the colder season when many homeowners burn logs in the fireplace to get more cozy and comfortable.
To get rid of soot around the air vents upgrade to an air filter with better MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. It is a measure of the contaminants that a filter can catch. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter. Mostly, homeowners prefer using air filters with a MERV rating between 8 to 10. Though these filters are good, they fail in capturing the smaller soot particles. An air filter with a minimum MERV rating of 13 will do an admirable job of trapping the soot particles and preventing them from recirculating.
Dust And Dirty Insulation
In any home, a large expanse of the ductwork runs through unconditioned spaces like roof space or attic, and at the back of the walls. In such places, the dust of every kind and dirty insulation can be found in abundance. Also, leaks or holes in the ductwork of a home are a common occurrence. As a result, dirt and dirty insulation gets pulled in and blows out through the vents creating black dust-like deposits around the air vents.
To annihilate such an occurrence, first and foremost, identify all the sources of leaks in the ductwork and seal them. Those ducts that are beyond repair should be replaced, and finally, get your home ductwork cleaned professionally at least once in every 5 years. Doing so will keep the ducts clean and in top shape.
Now, this is one problem that can severely impact your health and that of other family members as well. Under no circumstances should you ignore the presence of mold in your household. When one breathes in air laden with mold spores, it causes:
1. Difficulty in breathing.
2. Bouts of coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.
3. Irritation of throat.
4. Lung infections.
In some cases, mold spores can also cause skin ailments and irritation of the eye.
Mold requires dampness, dust, warmth, and darkness to grow and thrive. The air conditioning system of any home naturally fulfills all these four requirements. Dampness comes from the moisture that it extricates from the air, dust from the dirty air, warmth from the unconditioned spaces, and darkness because sunlight cannot permeate it. Hence, mold growth near the AC and ductwork is very common.
Eradicating mold from home and preventing its future formations is a tricky business. After confirming the presence of mold through a lab test, the first order of business is to get the ductwork cleaned by a professional duct cleaning service. Now that the ducts are clean, you need to take steps to maintain healthy humidity levels inside the house. For this, use appropriate temperature and humidity settings on the thermostat. If necessary, install a whole-home dehumidifier. Additionally, don’t ignore water leaks anywhere in the house. Last but not least, keep your home clean.
Tips To Prevent Mold Formations
Taking steps to prevent mold formations is a more proactive step. Instead of waiting for the mold to grow and then cleaning it, it is best to avoid it altogether. Here are a couple of things you can do to ensure the same:
1. Ensure proper annual maintenance of your heating and cooling system.
2. Regularly change the air filters of the HVAC system. Ideally, they should be replaced every month or at least every quarter.
3. Make sure that the drip pan has no leaks.
4. The drain line should be free of all blockages.
5. The insulation inside the air ducts should be of good quality irrespective of the place from which it passes.
6. Install exhaust fans in bathrooms.
7. Open the windows from time to time to ventilate your home and improve the circulation of air.
Black dust around the air vents does not always mean mold. The only way to confirm that it is not mold is by testing, which only a mold remediation specialist can do. If it is indeed mold, under no circumstances should you try to clean it on your own? Mold is harmful and needs to be dealt with care. Mold specialists are properly equipped to take care of it on your behalf. At your end, you can follow the tips mentioned above for preventing mold formations.
If you live in West Palm Beach and wish to schedule the annual maintenance of the HVAC, contact the air experts at Aztil Air Conditioning. We can be reached anytime at +1-888-729-8452. You can also give us a call if you have any queries or concerns. We shall be happy to assist you in any capacity we can.