What should you do if you smell something dead in your air ducts? Many times you are right, some animal has died in your ducts. The first thing to do is to find it. The best way to do that is with a boroscope or robot. Once it is found, it must be removed. Then what?
Most rodents I know have poor hygiene habits. Plus, when they die they tend to loose body fluids and fall apart (that was gross). So what do you do about all the gross stuff in your ducts? There are different opinions, and unfortunately, little research to prove the effectiveness of sanitizing ductwork. Yes, there are sanitizers which are registered with the EPA for use on the hard surface interior of the ducts. Yes, many duct cleaners provide, and even promote fogging the ductwork after cleaning. It is neither encouraged, nor discouraged by the EPA and the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), an association which trains and promotes air duct cleaning industry standards. It makes everything smell clean, but,
- does it sanitize the interior of the ductwork? No proof.
- Is it a waste of money? Who knows?
- Should you replace the duct where the animal was found? That is our recommendation.
- Should you replace the duct everywhere the rodent went? That is a tough question requiring a longer answer.
As we discussed earlier, everywhere they go most rodents deposit urine, feces, and any food remains they have eaten. Duct cleaning tools are designed to remove dust and debris, not bacteria. If it could be wiped clean, then it would be okay. Just like cleaning your hands, spraying disinfectant on them has been proven to be much less effective than washing them with soap and rinsing with water. And fogging a disinfectant in the ducts may not work. So, ideally, all the ductwork where the rodent had been presumed to be would be replaced. Will it cause health problems if you don’t replace it all? It’s hard to say, but, to be sure…
Ultimately, it comes down to your budget and health standards. In a commercial building, you wouldn’t want to take chances. In your home, it’s your decision.
In any deodorization project, the first rule of thumb is to remove the source. Then clean and deodorize as necessary. HVAClean can help you with both.