Mold in the Furnace: A Hidden Health Risk

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Client: Homeowner in Montreal, QC.

Problem: Mold does not typically grow on metal, so you probably wouldn’t expect to find it inside a furnace. In one recent case, though, mold had grown all over the insulation lining our client’s furnace—to the point that the interior of the furnace was absolutely covered, from top to bottom, in black, green and grey spots!

The first thing we did was to test the air quality inside his home. Not surprisingly, the lab results revealed a high level of Cladosporium spores, a common type of mold that’s typically found outdoors. The presence of Cladosporium indoors almost always indicates a moisture problem, and this case was no different—water had accumulated at the bottom of the furnace because the condensation drain was not connected properly.

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Because a condensation drain was not attached properly, water accumulated at the bottom of the furnace.
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Black, green and grey blotches inside our client’s furnace pointed to a mold problem.

Remember, mold needs just 3 conditions to grow:

  • A food source
  • The right temperature (2-40°C)
  • Moisture

It seems that the inside of our client’s furnace provided the perfect environment for mold. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a clue because no obvious or visible signs of mold were present anywhere in his home! In fact, he only discovered the problem during routine maintenance of his furnace.

Solution: In this particular case, we developed a three-part remediation strategy:

  1. Set up proper containment.
  2. Eliminate the source of moisture.
  3. Remove the mold and disinfect, disinfect, disinfect!

How we fixed it: After testing the indoor air quality and confirming the presence of mold, we had to remove it—safely.

First, we contained the affected area and put our handy negative air pressure machine to work. This piece of equipment works much like a vacuum, sucking up and expelling mold spores, pollen, dust and other nasty stuff outside the home.

Next, we addressed the source of moisture; in this case, this meant properly attaching the condensation drain to prevent future moisture leaks.

Then, following IICRC guidelines and equipped with head-to-toe personal protective attire, we removed all mold from the furnace and thoroughly disinfected the area.

Note: Mold growth inside a furnace or an HVAC system is particularly dangerous because the hazardous spores can travel through the vents and spread into other rooms, compromising the air quality in your entire home.

Poor indoor air quality leads to a whole host of health troubles, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Irritated or watery eyes

The fact that this Montreal homeowner didn’t suspect mold until a technician looked inside his furnace reminds us that the signs are not always in plain sight and that mold can grow in unexpected places. It’s important to monitor your indoor air quality on a regular basis to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

Put your mind at ease—book an air quality test for your Ottawa or Montreal home.

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