Serving the greater Cache Valley and SE Idaho Areas


6 Gross Things We’ve Cleaned Out of Air Ducts

Dec 21, 2022 | air duct cleaning, air ducts, cleaning, sanitizing

How Gross Are Your Air Ducts?

Welcome to another entry in our running series on things found in air ducts that should not be in air ducts. Today, we’re looking at 6 gross things that we’ve cleaned out of air ducts recently. You will be shocked by some of these. Let’s dig in, shall we?

1. Cigarette Smoke Smell

Let’s start with the least awful thing on our list. A while ago, we were called by a Marriott Hotel to help them clean out their air ducts. The hotel was under new management and they wanted to get a fresh start. The previous owner had never done any duct cleaning, it seems. In addition to having smoking sections, the previous owner was also a smoker.  Despite their best efforts, the new owner couldn’t seem to get the smoke smell out.

This was because the cigarette smoke had gone up into the ducts and left a smelly residue. Fortunately, we were able to clean this out with our sanitization process. The sanitization process is included as a part of our regular cleaning service and gets rid of many different smelly substances. This includes cigarette smoke, musty odors of various kinds, some pet odors (caked in urine may require more targeted cleaning), and kills multiple types of bacteria and viruses. While it won’t kill mold infestations, it can help prevent them from getting a foothold. This is one of the many benefits of getting your ducts cleaned with Easy Breezy.

2. Soot

When we ask people how long it’s been since they cleaned their ducts, the common responses are either “we can’t remember when,” or “we’ve never had it done.” In the case of one particularly old home, the ducts hadn’t been cleaned at least since before the current owner. It turns out that the original home had a coal-burning stove for heating instead of gas. This stove had coated their air ducts with soot, even decades after the coal-burning stove had been replaced. That’s a potential health hazard and cleaning it out was a priority when we found it. This is one of the reasons why we always recommend having your ducts cleaned when you first move into a new house; you never know what the previous owner left behind for you.

3. Men’s Underwear

This was a weird one. Our vacuum system is pretty good at sucking things up, so when we got a momentary clog, we were all surprised. We were even more surprised when we pulled the vacuum out and found that the clog was caused by several pairs of men’s underwear. Why was it in the air ducts? How did it get there? Who did it belong to? We politely avoided these questions and let the owners decide what to do about it on their own.

4. A Giant Hairball

This is where the list starts to get truly disgusting. We found this giant hairball in a family’s dryer vent. What happened was some long hair from one of the women in the house snagged on the booster fan in the vent. From there, it started catching lint and other hair, building up into a huge clog that was severely restricting the flow of air. In addition to making it harder for the drier to remove dampness from clothes, it was also a potential fire-hazard and it’s good that we caught it when we did.

5. Dead Bird

One of our residential clients called to complain about a particularly nasty smell coming from their vents. When we arrived, we had our cameras take a look and found that at some point, a small bird had crawled into the vent and died. The corpse was still rotting, attracting bugs and bacteria, producing the smell. Our system removed the corpse and our sanitizer cleaned up the mess. Bingo! No more smell of rot throughout the house!

mouse poop found while cleaning air ducts

Mouse poop we found while cleaning air ducts

6. A Nest of Dead Mice

Animals getting into vents is a problem. They urinate and defecate, which can spread bacteria. They drop food, which can attract mold. Nesting animals might bring in other materials for their homes. Worst of all, they often die in the vents. The bird was gross enough, but in this particular house, we found a nest with 13 dead mice. This was the worst of all worlds. They’d chewed up paper, straw, and cotton to create nesting materials, spread poop all throughout one vent, and then died. We don’t know what killed them, but it was definitely good to get rid of them and then sanitize the duct work after.

Whenever we find signs of animals in ducts, whether it’s hair, droppings, or full-on corpses, we always recommend double-checking the ducts for loose vents. Modern vents should be properly installed and sealed so that animals can’t get in them and if we find signs that they are, something needs to be fixed to prevent it from happening again.

When Was The Last Time You Cleaned Your Ducts?

Again, we ask this question of all our customers. When was the last time you had your ducts cleaned? We generally recommend that you should have your ducts cleaned every 3-5 years. Modern HVAC systems and vent filters can make a single duct cleaning last for a good while before you’ll need another duct cleaning. This assumes you keep up to date on changing your filters and doing proper maintenance on your HVAC system (you’ll have to check with your HVAC company for that).

But a lot of our customers so far are first timers and say they’ve never had a duct cleaning done before, or can’t remember when it was done. If you’re one of those people who can’t remember when your air ducts were last cleaned, then you probably should give us a call. You don’t know what gross stuff is waiting in there, or what health hazard it may be causing your home.


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