What To Do If A Rodent Dies In Your Ductwork

rodent in hvac ductwork

Dust and dirt are not the only things that can foul up the ducts. Sometimes rodents find their way into these air channels and cause headaches for the homeowners. Perhaps the worst of it is when they die and you realize that you have a dead animal in air duct. They begin to decompose and emit a foul odor all over the house. They might also be carrying viruses and bacteria that could mix with the air circulating around the rooms. Clearly, this situation cannot persist for the sake of the family’s health and well-being.

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What To Do About A Dead Animal In Your HVAC Air Duct

Here are a few tips on what to do if a rodent dies in your ductwork:

Determine If The Smell In Your HVAC System Is Actually A Dead Animal

man plugging nose due to dead animal in hvac air duct

First, determine what this foul smell might be. It could indeed be a dead rodent like a rat or mouse but perhaps it is something else. The rotting body would produce methane, sulfur dioxide, and other gases as a result of the decomposition. Unfortunately, the human nose is extremely sensitive to these such that even a small amount would be easy to notice. The smell is strong and rancid with some people being induced to vomit because of the stench. The bigger the animal, the more gases will be produced during the decomposition. This could last for weeks before the body dries out.

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Follow Your Nose

Once you are fairly certain that there is a dead animal in your heating and cooling ductwork, you have to find it as soon as possible for extraction. There are instruments that can detect the types of gases emitted by the carcass but those are rather impractical to acquire and use for this kind of situation. Most people can rely on their noses which is sensitive enough for the job. Find where the stench is strongest. It is not a pleasant activity but it is necessary to solve the problem quickly. Those who can’t bear this kind of hunt can simply hire an HVAC technician to clear the ductwork of rodent remnants.

Gather Supplies

image of disposable gloves that were used to remove rodent from air ductYou should never touch a dead animal with your bare hands. It may be a carrier of disease with an untold number of viruses and bacteria all over its decaying body. Therefore, you should prepare gloves to protect your hands while performing the extraction. You should also get a plastic bag with thick walls and no holes. You will be placing the carcass here and sealing it before throwing it away. Make sure that there will be no leaks around the bag. For hard to reach locations, you may need a wire hanger or other long tools with a hook. If all these seem like too much to handle, then hire an HVAC technician.

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Remove The Carcass From Your HVAC Duct

The extraction should be straightforward if the animal is located near the vents. You simply open the barrier, reach in with a gloved hand, and place the carcass in a plastic bag. Make sure that you are wearing disposal gloves as you don’t want to be touching it you’re your bare hands. Place the gloves in the bag as well. Seal this up and throw it away as soon as possible. However, it is not as easy if the body is not visible or reachable from the access points. Use your wire hanger to reach deeper into the ducts. If the body is in an advanced state of decomposition, then you might have to extract multiple small pieces before the process is complete. Situations like this are best left to HVAC professionals.

Disinfect The Area

disinfecting the area in the hvac ductwork where an animal died

Removing the body is only the beginning. The dead animal has probably left dried blood and other bodily fluids in the area. Hair, fleas, and ticks may also be there as well. Everything must be sanitized to make sure that the ducts are truly clean. Disinfectant has to be sprayed wherever the animal might have gone to. This will protect the indoor air quality and prevent the heating and cooling ductwork from spreading any diseases. This important step must not be skipped under any circumstances.

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Determine How The Animal Got Into Your HVAC Ductwork

hvac air vent

Once you are satisfied with the duct cleaning, you can shift your focus towards the prevention of a similar incident from happening again. Rodents and other animals are not supposed to get inside the ducts. There are barriers in place to keep them away.

So how did a rat or mouse get inside? Are there holes in the ductwork? Is there a broken vent that needs fixing? The animal may have died far from the entry point as it wandered to find an exit. Search the entire HVAC network for possible entry points and seal them up. Make sure that this is the last time that you have to deal with this. It is important to note that an HVAC technician can best handle this job. They have the trained eye to spot any problems with your HVAC ductwork and can take the necessary steps to correct it. Therefore, it is best to call an HVAC company to deal with any damage that you might have with HVAC ductwork.

Plug The Holes

hvac technician working on hvac air ducts

If you think about it, these holes are not only allowing pests to enter the ducts but also leaking air where it should not go. You need to call an HVAC technician to plug these holes to prevent further leakage. HVAC ductwork leaks reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. The heater and air conditioner have to consume more energy to reach the desired settings. The temperature around the house will also feel uneven with the farthest areas not getting enough to the conditioned air. If your system is due for maintenance, then this is a good time to schedule a visit from an HVAC technician.

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Rodent infestation is more common than you might think. HVAC technicians get plenty of calls to remove dead animals from the ductwork so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are experiencing this situation. These professionals can get rid of the problem fast. They can also disinfect the area and seal the gaps to avoid a recurrence.


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McAllister EnergyMcAllister Energy offers superior heating and cooling services in Camden County, New Jersey. We hire professionally certified technicians who can provide you with excellent HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each of our techs has the knowledge and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.

McAllister Energy guarantees the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in the area. Our maintenance services can improve your comfort, increase your energy efficiency while reducing your home cooling costs. If you happen to need an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can recommend the best one for your home while staying within your budget. We back all of our work with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. To schedule a service appointment, give McAllister Energy a call today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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