Dear Angie: What do I need to know about mold in my air ducts? — Clint B., Dallas, Texas
Dear Clint: Mold can certainly grow in air ducts, but air duct cleaning professionals I’ve spoken with say it’s very uncommon.
Do you have visual evidence of mold in your ducts? If you can see or smell evidence of mold, you can probably skip having it tested and go straight to remediating it. Look for signs of water or moisture, especially in dark, hidden areas of the home.
If there is no evidence and you want to be sure you don't have mold, you could hire a qualified mold tester to check for mold. However, it's important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there are no standards for what is an acceptable amount of mold, as every home contains some level of mold. The CDC recommends asking consultants who do testing to establish criteria for interpreting the results beforehand and share what they will do or recommendations they will make based on the results.
The good news is, because you live in Texas, you’re more likely to get accurate advice from a qualified mold tester. In 2005, Texas became the first state in the U.S. to regulate the mold remediation industry and require licensing for mold professionals. The company that inspects for mold can't be the same company that does the remediation — a situation many states still allow — which poses a conflict of interest, as a company that can both test for and remediate mold has an incentive to “find” mold. Testing can be expensive, however, as much as a few hundred dollars.