HVAC Q&A: How To Remove Mold From Your Home – DIY
April 13, 2015
Janice in Galveston, Texas found some mold in her ductwork and is curious about do-it-yourself removal techniques she can employ to keep her family healthy. She writes:
I recently read your piece about mold and how to spot it in your home, and it was extremely helpful. As you suggested, I checked out my evaporator coils, drip pan, and ductwork this weekend when I changed my furnace filter…and I found some mold!
It’s only a little bit of mold, but now that I’ve found it, what do I do? What are some mold removal options, and how do I make sure it doesn’t come back? Money is tight, so I’d appreciate any do-it-yourself mold removal solutions you can provide.”
Do-it-yourself mold removal is a great option for homeowners like Janice whose mold problem is not overwhelming. (Note: The EPA recommends that anyone with mold covering more than 10 sq. ft. contact a mold removal specialist in their area, just to be safe.) Follow these seven do-it-yourself mold removal steps for cleaning up mold in your ductwork, drip pan, and on your evaporator coil:
Mold Cleaning Instructions
Choose a cleaning solution
The first step to fixing your mold issues is finding a good mold removal agent. If you’re looking for an at-home solution, here are four good options:
- Mix your favorite household detergent with water
- Create a baking soda-detergent solution (combine 1 Tbsp of detergent with 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 cup water)
- Combine 1 part borax with 16 parts water (e.g., 1 cup borax to 1 gallon of water)
- Combine 1 part bleach with 16 parts water (this solution only works on non-porous surfaces)
- If you don’t mind spending a few dollars, there are a number of commercial mold removal products that will kill and remove mold. For safety reasons, make sure you purchase an EPA registered mold removal disinfectant labeled for HVAC use.
Put on protective gear
It’s not just the mold you’re protecting yourself from, but the chemicals in the cleaner as well. When cleaning up mold, the EPA suggests wearing an N95 mask, and the team at HVAC.com suggests rubber gloves, coveralls, and protective eyewear to keep potentially harmful mold spores and other allergens from harming your body.
Turn off your HVAC system
In order to access your heating and cooling units, evaporator coil, ducts, and drip pan safely, turn off your HVAC system during mold removal. This also helps to avoid spreading cleaning solution fumes and potentially harmful mold spores while you are cleaning.
Scrub and vacuum the moldly areas
Now that you’ve prepared yourself and the system for mold removal, it’s time to start scrubbing. Generously apply the cleaning solution directly onto the moldy areas using a light brush, wet rag, or spray bottle, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, scrub the area in circular motions to remove the mold. Use disposable towels to get rid of any excess solution and then vacuum the area as an added precaution. For areas with a strong mold presence, you may need to repeat this step more than once.
Bag your rags
Once you’ve gotten rid of the mold, get rid of your mold removal rags properly. Double-bag your moldy rags with 6-mil or thicker trash bags. If your furnace filters are wet and moldy, drop those in there, too.
Apply an inhibitor
Commercial mold inhibitors can control mold and mildew growth in your HVAC system. Look for EPA registered, HVAC-approved products and apply them to all the components of your heating and cooling units (follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
Keep an eye on the area
Finally, mold removal doesn’t help at all if you do it once and forget about it. Mold can grow in as little as 48 hours, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the problem areas. If mold and mildew keep coming back, you may have a moisture problem. Consider insulating your ductwork, purchasing a dehumidifier, or contacting an HVAC professional to get your HVAC system’s mold problem under control.