air conditioning mold

We just bought a house that has a RUUD 10 SEER (we live in florida) that is about 11 years old. The air handler in the attic has heavy mold inside it all over. a technician came out and said it should be replaced because cleaning it would cost almost as much as getting a new one. He did mention that we were losing some Freon through it also. These are our two concerns: 1.)we have a 2 year old child and a new one coming in a month and it scares us to think that the air conditioning can be a health danger to the infant and child; 2.)we really dont have the money to drop on a new air hanling unit and condenser. We are in a bit of situation here and was wondering if a suggestion or two could be offered? Thanks in advance. Dan. snipped-for-privacy@swfla.rr.com
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dan wrote:

While it is unlikely that this mold is the dreaded "black mold", it can be hard to differentiate; besides, any mold can have serious effects on infants.
One reference here: http://www.aehf.com/articles/APMmold.htm
Do a GOOGLE for: mold infant pulmonary or something similar. You'll get a lot "scare hits" from companies selling something but there is good medical advice as well. For kids, this situation has serious and possibly long-lasting effects.
In the end, you may have to have an expert come in and remediate the whole system since the mold may extend beyond the air handler.
A UV biocidal lamp *might* offer some relief but I don't think it's the cure in this case.
I know you're in hot Florida, but is there any chance you could rearrange living conditions so that a couple of window A/C's would suffice till the problem can be addressed?
Jim
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On 5 Jul 2004 06:50:34 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@swfla.rr.com (dan) wrote:

A gallon of bleach costs $2 and goes a long way in killing mold.
Don't breathe the fumes.
Lud
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This is Turtle.
First here . If you bought the house through a realestate agent you need to call him or her and have the original owner or the realestate agent repair the problem. This is a undissclosed defect that was not announced at purchace time. Louisiana has 2 years for this but do not know the limit of time for Florida.
Secondly here. You don't need a condenser for it has nothing to do with the mole problem at all.
Thirdly here. The price of pulling a coil and acid clean it and bleach the drain pan and shop vaccing the blower area and then start using BioFresh - cd [ as directed on the bottle ] to kill it out is not a major job to compare to a new unit. Most hvac service company just don't know how to deal with mole like it should be taken care of.
Forthly here. If you really want to go all the way but costly. Change only the air handler only and start using BioFresh cd and don't worry about it. Now you can go a little farther and put a UV lite in the Evaperator coil area as directed and kill it off in the furture but a little costly but Bio-Fresh cd does a good job.
Fifthly Here. The mole problem was probley started by the drain line stopping up and having water over flow into the air handler to start this problem. Clean the drain out too in this problem.
Sixthly here. If you live in Floridia you and all your family has been exposed to black mold already. It has been around for a long long time. If you are exposed to it one time and you have been. You either die or live and if you live your ammun to it in the furture. You have had it if your still alive. The Black mole will only effect about 1 in a 1,000 people at all.
If you want to discuss it. E-Mail me and discuss it.
TURTLE
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After reading all the replies, I want to add that Turtle is right, and the guy that suggested bleach is wrong..VERY wrong. The chlorine in the bleach will do more damage to you than the mold..
I would strongly suggest the addition of UV-C band units to the airhandler....
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Every system I have seen installed in Florida in the last decade has a fitting in the condensate line for EXACTLY this purpose. The instructions from the HVAC contractor is that you DO pour a small amount of bleach down this line. Of course I suppose all these licensed contractors could be wrong.
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fitting
HVAC
Gee..it could be...but you see, that fitting as you call it...its a T PCV fitting, and it ISN'T for that very purpose....Sorry...
The instructions that the contractor gives is a cheap ass way to get you to actually end up spending more in the long term...
First, bleach is NOT supposed to be on, or near, the evap coil. Period. Second, Chlorine is NOT something you want to breathe...
Now..the bleach can be put in there if it makes you feel good...but as a licensed, and proven competent contractor in my field, chlorine in a drain is wrong.
Show me where, in ANY installation manual, or engineers manual ( I have several, so pick a brand, and name the page) that it states to use bleach as a drain cleaner in the air vent...yea...that's all that T is..its a vent and depending on the unit, you don't use that either.
Believe what you want..I just fix crap like this all day...design systems, and am currently giving some input on a new program for contractors...but I know nothing...
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PVC?
What is it for and why does it have a cap that is not glued on if it is not for that? There are sure a lot of contractors misrepresenting the use here if it isn't. I NEVER said you were supposed to hose down the coils with bleach or use it inside the air handler. I said a "small" amount would clean out the drain line.
BTW this is the same stuff people squirt around their bathroom in great quantities (Tilex and it's clones) and I don't see people dropping over.
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Sorry...was in another discussion on Yahoo about a crankcase breather I needed...hard to find some original Keith Black stuff for the Hemi.. PCV...you know it was a typo..

not for

Because that is a common way for a mis-informed contractors installer to install the drain line..The thought process behind it was simple...dont seal it, it can breathe slightly, and IF it clogs, you can cram your CO2 line in there, and blow all the crap BACK into the coil.. You wont find that on ANY of my installs, as its not needed, and in some cases, will cause more harm than good. IF the unit has the blower up from the coils, it will actually suck air in, and whatever else is there, provided the P trap isnt full of water yet, as you get in the early spring months. If its in a crawlspace in particular, its a real waste...and allows for whatever mold is harboring there to be pulled into the system to start to grow.

isn't.
it
line.
A small amount..great. wonderful...like I said, whatever makes you feel good. The proper way is for when the unit is serviced before spring start-up, as they all need to be, for the contractor to first blow the line with what is called a Gallo-Gun, and then, the cleaner for the coil will kill, and remove any left over sludge in the line. And of course, any legitimate service also will get a pair of tabs inserted into the pan that will last a good 6-9 months with average use..all but eliminating a clogged drain, as even if they are gone after 4 months, you have a 4 month head start against the mold growing, and clogging the line, and any that DOES start, will be cleared out at the next service.
Bleach will harm the coil, and the coil isnt all that great to start with. Most make, even mine, have had a hell of a time with evap coils, and the reason is so simple, its pathetic...but its the case. Turns out that the lube they used to insert the copper into the fins...its corrosive to the copper...isnt that wonderful? Why add to it with bleach that also is bad for the coils?

Yea..its the same stuff thats in your shower water too, and now, as they have said for years, its bad. Bad thing is, it wont hurt you overnight.. Hey...X-rays are safe in the doctors office too...but they never stay in the room with you do they? :)
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What's "spring". We use A/C most of the year here. It is the heat that only gets turned on a couple days a year. :-)
As for the drain line I am only repeating what I have heard. My wife worked for the biggest Trane dealer in the 3 county area for 5 years and another dealer before that so there are a lot of people who are doing it wrong here. The company that she works for now, building houses, is saying the same thing although the rich bastards who can afford her houses won't be doing anything to their A/C units except telling the maid to turn it down. I know bleach is nasty stuff but people do sling it around a lot here for mold and mildew. I even see people using pool chlorine which is double strength bleach. Tilex is between those. Roughly 5%, 7.5% and 10% I certainly agree you don't want this on metal, any metal. My wife toasted some "lifetime guaranteed" Delta faucets with Tilex. Delta replaced them anyway. I will pass this on and see what the local HVAC guys say.
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Did you get the house inspected before purchase, was this problem disclosed by your inspector or the seller. You need legal advise.
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dan writes:

Lotsa baloney around about mold these days.
Get another opinion.
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snipped-for-privacy@swfla.rr.com (dan) wrote in message
Thanks for the responses. The A/C technicain mentioned that the bio-clean wont work on the mold spores so i would be a waste of time and that installing a UV light will run to $600. what about the supposed Freon leak at the air handler? Should i use bleach on everything except the condenser coils? Thanks in advance.
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The coils inside the house are evaporator coils. Very likely place for a leak. When you replace them they won't need cleaning. The plenum (metal box they reside in if a furnace is attached) and associated parts may need cleaning. I just paid to replace a 9 year old set of A-coils. Here using a licensed insured HVAC person the cost was $570 for a TEV A-coil. If yours does not have the valve the cost is about 100 less for the parts. Most parts of Florida the cost should be about the same as here.
Now if this is just an air handler (no furnace), the cost of the labor to clean might be a wash with the cost of a complete new box, blower and coil. For sure most techs don't like working as a molly-maid. And the cost of two trips to allow removal and time for you to clean the unit and return to install will add to the price.
I don't know anything about the bio clean but you had a response from Turtle and seconded by CBHVAC that said it should work. Both of those guys give sound advice. If you choose to dis-regard that advice don't run the unit while using bleach and make sure you have plenty of fresh air entering the space. A 10% solution kills HIV so it will kill your mold and you too if you aren't careful.
As another poster mentioned, if this is a really new purchase you may want to contact the seller or the seller's agent about this problem. Unless they knew and failed to disclose you may have no recourse but it is worth a phone call.
Colbyt
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On 6 Jul 2004 11:10:09 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@swfla.rr.com (dan) wrote:

Use it on the moldy areas only. Read the instructions for safe use, but iIt is corrosive so use your head. Lowes also sells bleach tablets that are made specifically to put in the drain pan as mentioned above.
Also, the drain pan under the evaporator should be as empty as possible. Clean your drain lines of any debris that may dam up the drain line.
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