Have you ever had the experience of walking into a house that hasn’t been used for a while and smelling a staleness that actually turns your stomach and gets your allergies going? Perhaps it happened when you went out to your shore house for the first visit of the season, after the place has been closed up all winter. Maybe it was when you were helping a family member clean out an elderly relative’s house. Regardless, if you’ve felt this once you’ll always recognize it again. And while you may not like to hear it, the culprit is most likely a mix of dust mites, mold and mildew. It signals a ventilation or moisture problem, and you cannot let it go unaddressed. So here are some tips to help you eliminate a mold smell coming from air ducts in your home.
First you’ll need to get your tools together. Luckily the list isn’t long or complicated. To handle the cleaning you’ll need a scrubbing brush, and make sure it isn’t one you plan on using again. Then you’ll need a spray bottle, a fresh water source and some quality dish soap. You’ll probably need a set of screwdrivers to get into the ductwork, but other than that this is pretty much it. So grab all of your gear and walk the length of your home removing all of the vent covers. This is where the screwdrivers come in handy. If you are seriously allergic to mold, dust mites or mildew you might want to wear gloves during this process, just to keep as much of the material out of your system as possible.
Next, fill up your sink with steaming hot water. Add a couple of drops of the dish soap to the water, until you get a good bit of suds developed. Drop all of the vents in the sink and let them sit there for at least an hour. If you’ve got any sort of mold on the vents themselves they’ll need to soak for you to successfully remove the material. After an hour or two has passed you can drain the water from the sink and get to scrubbing. Put some elbow grease into the process, until you see that the vents are visibly clean. Then rinse them with plain water and let them air dry. Do not replace them until they are completely dry, or you might encourage the same issue all over again.
Now it’s time to turn your attention to the ductwork itself. You’ll never be able to get all the way into every duct in your home. So if you go through this process and still have the problem smell you’ll probably need to call in a professional cleaning service. Start off by handling whatever you can and see where it gets you. Grab your spray bottle and fill it up with white vinegar. The vinegar will naturally disinfect almost anything, and will definitely take care of any dust mites or mold in the area. And best of all it will handle the odors without forcing you to use harsh chemicals. Wipe up the vinegar so the ducts are dry and hopefully this will take care of the problem. If not, call in the pros and ask them about their aeroseal process. It’s a bit more expensive, but if you’re desperate it will be worth every penny.