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What You Do When A Rodent Dies In Your Ductwork

Featured image of the blog title "What You Do When A Rodent Dies In Your Ductwork" with a background of dead rodent

Even though it’s a terrifying thought, rodent dies in your ductwork. We receive several calls a week in the Reno / Sparks area to repair ducts damaged caused by them.

an image of the rodents inside the wooden box found in sparks nv

A rat, mouse, or other small animals makes the mistake of getting trapped in the ducts only to die and leave you with the mess and the smell. Often, to escape, they cause damage.

There will be no doubts or question on if there is a dead animal. The real question is where the smell is coming from and how can you get rid of it?

Unfortunately, when some small animals die in the ductwork of our home, the foul smell spreads throughout the entire place.

While just the thought is unpleasant, the underlying reason you have to the horrible odor is not always simple to remove.

The following are the details of what you do when you encounter this kind of situation.

Before you take on this endeavor, know that a job like this is best outsourced to an air duct cleaning professional.

Some HVAC companies would prefer you contact animal or pest control, but we are happy to do the job.

Tracking the Scent When a Rodent Dies in your Ducts

an image of a dead rodent with a white background

Photo by Jared Belson


As you can imagine, the foul odor coming from a decaying rodent will be strong.  It’s typically the smell that alerts homeowners that there may be something dead somewhere in the home. Often it is so strong that you think it’s coming from anywhere when in fact it’s in the attic, crawlspace, or basement.

When they make your home their final place to rest, finding where is often the biggest challenge. Usually, they will crawl back into nooks, crannies, dark corners or in insulation to die. The challenge is finding the deceased body to give it a proper burial.

Once you locate it, you should disinfect the area to get rid of the horrific odor. Unfortunately, to find the source, you are going to have to use your nose. You may get lucky and narrow down the smell to a particular vent in the home.

A woman that covers her nose

If so, remove the vent cover and peek inside using a flashlight to see all around. If you see the dead carcass, then you can move on to the next phase of removing the animal and cleaning the surroundings.

But, if sniffing and searching deliver nightmare but no source, you may require a professional to help with finding and eliminating them from the area.  Keep in mind that the place where you have heard running sounds is usually not going to be where it dies.

You should know when you find the body where the animal is because of the smell. Most likely it will be overwhelming. The stench of a rotting carcass will seep through boards, sheetrock, etc. which is why locating the body of the rodent shouldn’t be hard.

How to Remove and Disinfect an Area Where a Rodent Dies in Your Duct Work

Once you’ve found where the deceased rodent is, it’s time to remove the remains and disinfect the place. There are a few items you will need to get the job done. These are gloves, a garbage bag, paper towels, and disinfectant spray.

If it is out of reach, you may have to rely on other tools to reach the location. That could range from a vacuum hose to something as simple as a wire clothes hanger.

Once you have pulled the decaying animal’s body within reach, use a gloved hand to put it in the plastic garbage bag. Depending on how long the dead animal has been in the place, you may have several pieces to clean it.

Immediately throw the garbage bag away. Once you have it removed, you need to thoroughly clean and disinfect the area. If it is too far to reach, try to use a mop to clean and disinfect.

Once the source of the odor is gone and the area is properly clean and disinfected, the smell should go away.

Locate and Patch the Entry Point After You Remove the Rodent

After the body is gone and the place is clean and disinfected you should do a couple more things. First, you need to inspect the unit and the surroundings to see how and where it was able to make an entry in the beginning.

You may very well discover that you have leaks in the ductwork meaning you are losing heat and cold air. It is one reason why it is usually best to let the HVAC technician remove the rodent in the first place to find and make the necessary repairs.

However, if you are weeks, even months away from annual inspection, you should go ahead and contact us to check your ducts.

When you have a professional take care of air duct cleaning, they will clean, scrub, and disinfect the surrounding affected by the deceased body. In reality, the best way to handle this type situation is to have the place free from harmful bacteria.

Conclusion, Hire a professional

As you can see the removal, cleaning and disinfecting after a rodent’s death happens in the ductwork is not pleasant. There is nothing fun about reversing the damage.

If you have a foul smell coming from the vents, most likely you know who the culprit is.

All Hours Air is the team to call to rectify the entire situation, including cleaning your air ducts. So if you find yourself in this situation, give us a call before or after removal, and we will get your home as it once used to be.

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