If you or a family member suffers from severe allergies or asthma, you may be concerned about the possibility of mold growing inside your AC unit where the spores could be spread throughout your house through the vents. If so, use the following four tips to prevent mold and catch it before the growth becomes a serious problem.
Change the Filter Every Month
When your AC unit's air filter becomes clogged up with dirt and dust, moisture becomes trapped inside the fibers and debris. Because of humidity and constant exposure to moisture inside the air conditioner, your filter can become a breeding ground for mold spores. As the air passes through the filter, the spores are carried into your home's vents.
Once a month, make it a habit to change the filter. Doing so decreases the time frame in which the spores can grow. It also allows the air inside your air conditioner to flow freely, helping to dry out the internal components to keep mold from sprouting in other areas.
Whenever you change your filter, also look inside the slot for any build-up of grime or the start of growth. If you find any, clean the area with a solution of one part bleach to two parts water. The bleach will help kill any mold you may see, as well as spores that have yet to start growing.
Keep the External Vents Unblocked
Since mold likes to grow in dark, damp areas where air becomes stale, it is imperative that you keep your external vents unblocked to keep fresh air flowing into the unit. At the same time you are changing your filter, you should also inspect these vents for blockages, such as a plant's leaves growing too close or dirt clods inside the vents.
If you have plants, trees, or shrubbery growing too close to the vents, trim them back to allow a few inches of air flow. If the plant tends to grow quickly, you may want to consider transplanting or cutting it down to keep the problem from happening repeatedly in the future.
If you find dirt clods inside the vents, use a stiff nylon brush to remove them. You may also want to use the same solution discussed in the previous section to wipe the areas around the vents. Since dirt clods in shady areas can attract mold spores, this preventative measure can keep them out of your AC unit.
Check the Drip Pan for Excess Moisture
When your central air conditioner is working properly, it filters out any excess moisture and deposits the water into a drip pan. The small amount of water then evaporates over time.
However, if your compressor is running erratically or starts to freeze up, the condensation produced can make the drip pan overflow. When the pan overflows, this is a sign that the compressor is not working right. More than likely, a large amount of water is retained inside the unit where it can support the moisture needs of mold.
If you find that your drip pan is overflowing, you may want to have a professional inspect the unit's compressor to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Not only can this help reduce the amount of mold growing in your air conditioner, but it can help prevent a total breakdown of the unit on a hot day.
Using the above tips can help you keep mold from growing in your central air conditioner and improve your home's air quality. However, if you constantly find mold growing inside your air conditioner, this could represent a problem with the unit. You may want to contact an AC service to have your unit cleaned and inspected so any issues causing the growth can be addressed.