Can Air Filters Grow Mold? - An Expert's Perspective

Keeping up to date with air filter changes is essential for maintaining a healthy home or business environment. A clogged air filter can be a breeding ground for mold growth, especially if the filter is exposed to moisture due to a leak or excessive humidity. To prevent mold from circulating throughout the air conditioner, it is important to replace the air filter regularly. In some cases, moisture can be transferred to the air filter and black mold can start to grow.

To combat this, HEPA filters with ultraviolet or UV-C light can be used to kill mold spores in the air. Ultraviolet light provides other benefits besides stopping mold. It also covers germs, airborne viruses and bacteria. A filter with a MERV rating of 8 will trap mold spores, so that any mold picked up by the HVAC system is removed from the air before it passes through the ducts.

If you notice that your air filters are black every time you change them, you may be concerned about mold growth. If your car gets wet due to flooding or leaving windows open in the rain, it is important to clean and dry it immediately and replace the cabin air filter. Whole-home humidifiers also have a built-in air filter to help prevent mold growth on the humidifier's wet pad. Keeping the filter clean allows it to trap some of the airborne dirt and dust, preventing the evaporator coil from getting too dirty.

Air filters are not only responsible for preventing dirt from seeping into rooms in your home, but they also extend or decrease the life of your air conditioning system. If your home or business receives frequent visits from people who are likely to be susceptible to mold spores, such as an infant, an elderly person, or someone with existing respiratory problems, higher quality air filters can make a big difference in your home life or in your visit to your business. You can disassemble the unit and try to clean the mold from the internal air ducts, coils, evaporators and other parts, but there is always a chance that something will be lost and the mold will simply grow back. If the air filters aren't riddled with black mold or soot, they may be heavily clogged. In addition, exposure to mold has been linked to upper respiratory tract symptoms, exacerbating allergies and other respiratory problems.

You can usually tell that the blackness of your air filter is mold because it will be moist and viscous, rather than dry and dusty like soot. There are also some accessories you can purchase for HEPA filters to further improve indoor air quality.

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