Tips On How To Deal With A Dead Animal In Your HVAC Air Ducts

image of rat in hvac ductwork

Your HVAC air ducts can be fouled up by a whole lot more than mere dust and dirt. There are times when rodents find their way into these passages and wreak havoc on households, indoor air quality, and more. Far worse is when a rodent enters these systems and then dies, leaving you with a rotting dead animal in air duct. As rodents decompose, they emit a strong stench that can pervade the entire home.

A dead rodent can additionally carry a number of harmful bacteria and viruses that might mix with the air that’s being circulated throughout the living environment. This is obviously a situation that cannot be left unchecked for long, especially when considering the well-being and health of your loved ones.

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What To Do When Your Air Ducts Have A Dead Rodent In Them

Following are a few things that you should do if you have a dead rodent in your HVAC ductwork:

Make Sure That A Dead Rodent Is Responsible For The Foul Odor That You’re Smelling

image of a homeowner plugging nose due to dead animal in ductwork

You need to start by positively identifying the source of the foul smell. It might well be a dead rodent, but there’s also the possibility that you’re dealing with something else. Rotting corpses produce sulfur dioxide, methane, and other decomposition gases. Sadly, human noses tend to be very sensitive to these gases, and thus, it’s easy to notice even very small amounts of them. This is a strong, rancid odor and a lot of people are induced to vomit by it. The larger than an animal is, the more gas it’s going to produce as it decomposes. This is a smell that can last for several weeks as the body slowly dries out.

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Let Your Nose Be Your Guide

After you’re sure that a dead animal is in your air ducts, you need to locate the body so that you can extract it. There are a number of instruments that are designed to detect decomposition gases, but these tools aren’t very easy to acquire and they aren’t exactly practical for this situation. Many people can simply use their noses as they are sensitive enough for the task. It is hardly a pleasant chore but it is an effective way to solve the problem fast. If you aren’t up to the hunt, consider hiring a professional HVAC technician who can remove all remnants of the dead rodent from your ductwork.

Get All Of Your Supplies Together

image of latex gloves used to remove dead animal from hvac system

Dead animals should never be touched with bare hands. They can carry diseases and they’re likely rife with countless viruses and bacteria. As such, you will need to have a good pair of gloves to protect your hands when you extract the carcass. It is also important to have a sturdy plastic bag that has absolutely no holes in it. This is where you will be placing the dead rodent before you seal it up and throw it out. Check the bags for leaks. For areas that are difficult to access, you can use a long tool with a hook such as a straightened wire hanger. Again, if any of this seems like too much for you, go ahead and call an HVAC contractor.

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Take The Carcass Out Of Your HVAC Ductwork

When a dead rodent is located fairly near a vent, extracting it should be quite straightforward. Simply reach your hand into the barrier after it’s been gloved, grab the carcass and put in the thick-walled plastic bag. You must have your gloves on so that you aren’t touching the body directly. Put your gloves into the same bag. Seal everything up and then throw it all out as soon as you possibly can. However, if you cannot see the body or if you cannot easily reach it from one of the bent openings, it won’t be quite as easy. Reach deeper into the ductwork using your hooked tool. If the rodent is an advanced state of decay, it could be necessary to take it out piece by piece until the job is done. This is an effort that is generally placed in the hands of a licensed HVAC technician.

Disinfect Everything

image of homeowner using disinfectant to clean

Getting the dead rodent out of your HVAC ducts is really only the start of this process. Dead rodents can leave blood and other body fluids behind. Fleas, ticks, fur, and other remnants could be present as well. You’ll need to sanitize everything to ensure that the ducts are clean. Anywhere that the rodent has traveled will need to be sprayed with disinfectant. This is essential for protecting your indoor air quality and for ensuring that no diseases are being spread by your heating and cooling system. Skipping this absolutely critical step is always a bad idea.

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Find Out How The Rodent Entered Your HVAC System


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After you’ve done a satisfactory job of cleaning out the ductwork, you can start making efforts to make sure that the problem never occurs again. It shouldn’t be possible for rodents or any other animals to enter your ducts. Barriers exist for keeping them out.

So how did a rodent enter your system? Is there a hole or two in your ducts? Do you have a ductwork leak that they took advantage of? Do you need to repair a broken vent? The rodent might have died a fair way away from the actual entry point after wandering around in search of an exit. Check the whole HVAC network for potential entry points, and then seal each one. Make this the last time you have to remove a dead rat from your air ducts. Keep in mind that this job is best handled by a seasoned HVAC contractor. HVAC technicians have trained eyes for spotting ductwork problems and they also have the skills for correcting any issues they find. Thus, you may want to call an HVAC company any time ductwork damages are suspected.

Holes Should Be Plugged

image of hvac air ducts

Not only do holes in your ducts allow pests to enter your system, but they also allow conditioned air to leak out. These should be plugged by an HVAC company so that additional air leakage doesn’t occur. Leaky HVAC ducts lower the overall efficiency of the heating and cooling system. Both your air conditioner and your heater are going to have to work much harder to achieve the desired temperature indoors. You will also have uneven temperatures throughout the building with certain rooms never getting an adequate amount of conditioned air. If it is time to have your HVAC equipment maintained, take this opportunity to hire an HVAC technician.

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Rodent-infested ductwork is a lot more common than most people think. HVAC companies often get calls for dead rodent extractions so you shouldn’t hesitate to request help if you’re dealing with this problem. An HVAC contractor can quickly resolve this issue. The area will also be disinfected, and all air leaks and gaps can be sealed so that it doesn’t recur.

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Hartford County, Connecticut homeowners can always turn to Miller Oil Company for superior HVAC services. Our certified technicians rank among the very best in the region and they’re capable of providing excellent HVAC replacement, installation, repair, and tune-up services. They are knowledgeable and they have lots of hands-on experience for correctly solving HVAC problems.

If you want to get the most competitive prices on HVAC services locally, call Miller Oil Company. The maintenance services we supply are designed to promote greater energy efficiency, increased comfort, and manageable heating and cooling costs. We’re also able to help you find the right products for your needs if you’re ready to replace your heating and cooling equipment. Our work comes backed by a strong satisfaction guarantee. To set up a service call, get in contact with Miller Oil Company right away. You can get an in-home estimate at no charge.

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