What To Do If A Rodent Dies In Your Ductwork

image of a rat in hvac ductwork

Dust and dirt aren’t the only things to foul up HVAC ductwork. Rodent populations can also find their way into these passages and create massive problems for homeowners. The worst of these problems is likely when rodents die and you start noticing the foul smell of a dead animal in air duct. As they decompose, the resulting foul odor can permeate the entire home. Rodents can also carry bacteria and viruses that find their way into the air being distributed throughout individual rooms. This is a situation that clearly cannot carry on for the sake of everyone’s well-being and health.

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What To Do When You Have A Dead Animal In Your HVAC Ductwork

Following are a few things that you can do if you have a dead rodent in your heating and cooling ductwork:

Find Out If The Smell In Your HVAC System Is Actually A Dead Rodent

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

You should start by determining the actual source of the foul odor. It could be a dead rat, mouse, or another rodent, but it can also be something else. Rotting carcasses produce sulfur dioxide, methane, and a variety of other gases when decomposing. Sadly, the human nose is very sensitive to these gases so that even small amounts are easily noticed. The smell is both rancid and strong and some people respond to this stench by vomiting. The larger the animal is, the more gases it will produce as it decomposes. This process can take weeks until the body is completely dried out.

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Let Your Nose Guide You

When you are sure that a dead rodent in your HVAC ductwork is responsible for the foul smell, you’ll need to find it right away so that it can be extracted. Certain instruments can detect which kinds of gases a carcass is emitting, but these aren’t all that practical to acquire and use for this purpose.

A lot of people can use their noses to guide them and your nose should be sensitive enough for this job. Determine where the stench is most potent. This activity is hardly a pleasant one but it will help you solve the problem fast. If you can’t bear this type of task, think about hiring an HVAC company to find the rodent and clear it out of the ducts.

Get Your Supplies Together

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

Never touch a dead rodent with bare hands. It may be carrying diseases and have an infinite number of bacteria and viruses covering its dead carcass. Thus, get some protective gloves to keep your hands protected while extracting the body. Another thing to have on hand is a thick plastic bag that doesn’t have any holes. This is where you’ll be putting the carcass and sealing it up before disposal. Check the bag for leaks.

For locations that are hard to reach, you can use a wire hanger or any other far-reaching tool that has a hook on its end. Again, if this task seems too daunting, have an HVAC technician handle the work for you.

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Take The Dead Rodent Out Of Your HVAC Duct

If the dead rodent is near a vent, the extraction should be simple and straightforward. Just open up the barrier, use your gloved hand to reach in, and then place the rodent’s carcass into the waiting plastic bag. Make sure that your hands are covered with quality disposable gloves as this isn’t something that you want to do with your bare hands. When you’re done, put your gloves into the plastic bag as well. Seal the bag up and put it in the trash as soon as you can.

However, if the body isn’t visible and cannot be easily reached from an access point, the work is guaranteed to be a bit more complicated. Reach deeper into the air ducts using your wire hanger or another hooked tool. When carcasses are in a more advanced state of decay, it is often necessary to take them out in small pieces until the job is done. These types of situations are always best handled by seasoned HVAC companies.

Disinfect The Affected Area

image of homeowner using disinfectant to clean hvac ductwork

Extracting the carcass is only the beginning of this work. Dead animals tend to leave a lot of dried blood along with other bodily fluids. Fleas, ticks, and hair can be present too. All of the affected area will have to be properly sanitized so that the ducts are completely clean. The disinfectant will also need to be sprayed anywhere that the dying rodent may have traveled. This is essential for protecting the indoor air quality and for preventing the spread of diseases by the heating and cooling system. It is never a good idea to skip this absolutely critical step.

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Find Out How The Rodent Entered Your HVAC Ducts

image of hvac air ducts

After you’ve done a thorough job of cleaning your ducts out, you can start focusing on ensuring that the same problem never happens again. It should not be possible for a rodent or any other animal to enter your HVAC ductwork. There should be barriers that keep them out.

So how did the rodent get in? Does your HVAC ductwork have holes? Do you need to repair a broken vent? It may be that the rodent died a long way away from the entry point after having wandered in and continued searching for a way out. Look throughout the entire network of ducts for possible ingresses and then seal these. This way, you won’t have to do this again.

It’s vital to understand that the best person to handle this portion of these efforts is a trained HVAC professional. HVAC technicians have the experience for spotting problems with HVAC ductwork and for quickly resolving them. Thus, it is always best to contact a local HVAC contractor to resolve any damages that your HVAC ductwork has.

Holes Should Be Plugged

When you think about it, holes aren’t just allowing pests into your ductwork, but they’re also allowing for air leaks. To prevent further air leakage and continued energy waste, have a reputable HVAC contract fix these holes for you.

Leaks within your HVAC ducts reduce the overall efficiency of your home heating and cooling system. Both your heater and your air conditioner will have to use more energy to achieve the desired indoor temperature. You’ll have uneven temperatures throughout your home, with some of the farthest areas never getting a sufficient amount of conditioned air. If it’s time to have your HVAC system maintained, then this is an excellent opportunity to have an HVAC technician visit your home.



Rodent infestation is a surprisingly common issue. HVAC companies are often inundated with calls for rodent removal in HVAC ductwork so don’t wait to get help if this is an issue you’re experiencing. HVAC professionals can deal with these problems quickly and efficiently. They can additionally seal all gaps to prevent these problems from recurring and can disinfect the entire area.

Get In Touch With Tower Energy For All Your HVAC Concerns

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Hartford County, Connecticut locals can count on Tower Energy for affordable and superior HVAC services. You will get excellent heating and cooling repairs, tune-ups, replacements, installations, and more from our certified HVAC technicians. They have all of the knowledge that’s necessary for getting your project done right.

You’ll also get competitive heating and cooling service prices from Tower Energy. With our HVAC maintenance, you can enjoy increased home comfort and more energy efficiency while protecting the lifespan of your home heating and cooling equipment. When your HVAC system does reach the end of its lifespan, we’ll help you find a needs-specific and budget-friendly replacement. All of our work is backed by a rock-solid guarantee so that customer satisfaction is assured. Call Tower Energy right now to set up an appointment to have your HVAC system serviced. In-home estimates are something we provide for free.

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