Tips on Removing Dead Rodents from HVAC Duct Systems

While it’s something no homeowner enjoys, the potential for rodents or other pests invading your HVAC system, and particularly your ducts, is certainly present. The worst such cases take place when a rodent actually dies in the ductwork it’s found itself in – not only does this create a foul odor and potential health risks based on air quality, it may also contribute to significant strain on your system and rising utility bills if it isn’t addressed.

At My Buddy the Plumber, we’re here to help with numerous HVAC areas, from furnace installation and repair down to individual issues like this one. In today’s blog, we’ll go over how to address a dead rodent in your ductwork system, including some areas where we highly recommend involving our HVAC professionals to ensure your system functions efficiently and in a healthy manner moving forward.

removing rodents HVAC duct sytems

Locating the Issue

In most cases, the first sign of a dead rodent or any other animal in your ductwork will be a foul smell that begins to permeate throughout the home. The first step here will be confirming the smell is coming from the ducts and not from some other area of the home – you can do this by turning your HVAC system off for 30 to 60 minutes, then noting whether the smell dissipates or disappears during this time. If so, it’s likely the source is somewhere in the duct system.

From here, remove your vent cover in a convenient area and use a flashlight to look inside. If you’re unable to access this area or want assistance, our HVAC pros will be happy to help.


Once the animal in question has been located, it’s time for a careful removal that does not risk your health or other concerns. First grab materials: A garbage bag, quality rubber gloves, paper towels, disinfectant and potentially a facial mask if you’re concerned about contamination. If the rodent is outside your reach, you may need another tool to help lift it.

Once you’ve lifted the rodent out of the duct, thoroughly disinfect and clean the area. Work to remove both the smell and any remaining debris, and clean all areas that came into contact with it.

Professional Inspection and Cleaning

Once the animal is removed and the area is clean, it’s vital to take some follow-up steps to ensure the duct is still performing tasks optimally. We recommend a professional inspection of the system – not only will this address such concerns, it will help you locate the method of entry for the rodent to begin with, allowing you to plug it and prevent future issues. A professional cleaning will also remove any lingering odors, plus bacteria or viruses that may have been left by the rodent.

For more on removing a rodent from your ductwork, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber today.