How To Get That Dead Rodent Out Of Your Air Ducts

If you have a nasty odor permeating your home, you may have a dead rodent in your ducts. Read on to learn how to find these pests, how to clean out your air ducts, and then how to prevent future problems.

What Will You Need?

  • A vacuum with a long hose and attachments
  • A duct-cleaning kit and brush (these brushes look a little like chimney cleaning rods and can reach hard-to-reach areas)
  • Some old washcloths
  • A screwdriver
  • Some paper towels
  • A garbage bag
  • 50/50 bleach to water mix
  • Some disposable gloves


1. This step is the hardest. If you have a poor sense of smell, you may want to get another family member or friend to help you out. You'll need to go smell different rooms of your home to see where the odor is most pungent. If you can't really tell much of a difference, the rodent may be near your furnace's fan, since the smell is being wafted everywhere. Hotspots for rodents are in dark crannies, under floorboards in attics, or in insulation.

2. Once you narrow down the location, see if it is viable for you to clean it yourself. If you can't reach it with your tools, you'll need to call a professional. If you can reach the area, the first thing you will need to do is clear the area around the duct entrance so no other objects fall in when you remove the duct screen.

3. Use your screwdriver and remove the duct screen. Be sure to keep the screws in a bag or cup so that they aren't lost.

4. Clean the area as best you can. Use your old rags to wipe down the walls of the ducts. Use your vacuum and attachments to only clean areas you can't reach on your own. Since ductwork is malleable, the suction on your vacuum may be too strong if you use it continuously. Repeat steps 2 through 4 for all the duct entrances in this area.

5. If you can see a carcass, put on your gloves, slip your garbage bag over your hand, and then once you grab the rodent, pull the garbage bag back out and seal it. If you can't see any rodent carcass, but the smell is bad enough that it's close by, you'll have to lift up some floorboards for better access. Or, you can use your duct-cleaning brush to push the carcass closer to an entrance. After you've disposed of the rodent, use the paper towels to clean up any remnants such as maggots around the body

6. Clean the area with your water and bleach mix. Throw open the windows to get rid of the smell. Before you throw the garbage bag in with the rest of your house's garbage, check out your municipal laws for disposal.

7. Last but not least, if you suspect you may have more rodents living in the vents, you'll want to entice them out. Open up your ducts and place glue boards (similar to flypaper) or moustraps with bait like peanut butter or cheese. Close up your vents and be sure to check the traps every day. Remove them the same way you did before and thoroughly clean the area. Be sure to do a thorough inspection and close off any gaps with calk or wire mesh. If you have done your preventative work but still have problems, it may be best to contact an HVAC professional, such as Doc Dancer Heating, Air Conditioning & Generators.