In most cases, having air conditioning in your home helps to prevent mold, by keeping the indoor air at a consistent temperature and humidity. More than 70 percent humidity in your home can contribute to mold growth -- and sometimes it can be difficult or impossible to spot on your own.

When Air Conditioners Contribute to Mold Issues

However, sometimes air conditioning systems cause or contribute to mold problems, especially in climates where they are turned on and off frequently. There are two main reasons why air conditioning systems can cause mold or mildew to grow:

  1. Condensation. This happens when parts of the system get colder than the warm air around them, like in air ducts. This is more common in basements, where the humidity is greater. Water vapor condenses around the room and doesn't evaporate in the humidity, leading to mold growth.
  2. Organic material. Dust can get into the ducts as well as the main air conditioning unit. If you have a single-room or wall unit rather than a whole house air conditioner, this can be an issue as well. Dust may have dead skin cells, pollens and other biological material, which mold thrives on.

Signs of Mold Contamination

Mold isn't always easy to see, even if it is there. So you're not alone in thinking you may have mold even though you don't see hairy black stuff growing on the walls of your home. Here are some signs that mold may be an issue:

  • Light stains on ceilings, ceiling tiles or walls. This doesn't have to be green or black.
  • An odor that smells fishy, musty or like urine.
  • Damp carpets, especially in a basement.
  • Health issues. If you or a family member is having any trouble with asthma or allergies, especially if gets better when you spend time outside the house, there could be mold.

What to Do Next If You Suspect Mold

Mold isn't an issue that you can take a wait-and-see approach on, especially because it can have such a detrimental effect on human health. If you think your air conditioning system is causing problems, you should:

  • Thoroughly clean any stand-alone air conditioning units.
  • Have the ducts cleaned by a certified specialist.
  • Schedule an evaluation by a mold removal expert, to look for mold in your home and create a clean-up plan.

Be very careful in trying to clean up mold by yourself. If you do it incorrectly, you could release more mold spores into the air and make yourself very sick. Talk to a mold removal expert to best assess your options. To learn more, contact a company like ServiceMaster by Restoration Xperts with any questions or concerns you have.