Removing Bad Odors from Ducts

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated September 22, 2014)


Most home owners will experience a time in their life when they have some kind of strange and unidentified odor that comes from their air ducts. For most people, the first instinct is to call a professional duct cleaning service. Not only is this an expensive option, it is one that is completely unnecessary if you take the proper steps.

  • Identify the source. Before you can actually begin removing bad odors from ducts, you will need to identify the source of the odor. This means that you need to see if you can narrow down the cause of the odor. Is it due to an animal (such as a mouse) dying in the vents, maybe one of your pets relieved themselves on the ducts, or perhaps you have an old musty smell that is coming from your air system. Not only do you need to identify the source of the odor, you need to identify from where in the system the odor is coming from. This is done by simply going to the different vents in your home, and seeing which one has the strongest odor coming from it.
  • Dead animals. The simplest way to remove the odor of a dead animal from your air duct is to actually remove the animal first. Locate where the animal is located, and then remove it. As stated above, you do this by going around and sniffing out the problem. Once you have located where the animal is located, be sure that you take the proper safety precautions in handling the critter. This means that you should be wearing (at the minimum) rubber gloves. Properly dispose of the dead animal, and then proceed with cleaning your air vents.
  • Musty smells. When faced with a musty odor coming from your air ducts, there is one place that you should take a look at first before you take a look at anything else, and that is the air filter. If the air filter is dirty or smells musty itself, replace it and you should be finished. There are a couple of other things that you should check as well to make sure that you don't have any other problems, but this is usually the biggest cause. Also pour about a cupful of bleach into the drain that holds the condensation drippings from the air conditioner to kill off any algae or mold. Also, take a look at the outside unit to ensure that it is clear of any build up of dirt or vegetation, if it is not remove the obstructions and you should be fine.
  • Pet urine. The easiest way to identify where the pet urine entered the air ducts is by using an ultraviolet black light. Turn off the regular lights in the room, and then shine the black light near the vents, and any urine stains will simply glow in the dark. Part of removing the ad odor from the ducts will be, in this case, to also clean the area surrounding the vent. Do this by using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. The reaction between these two elements will help pull out the urine, but make sure that it won't damage the material around the duct first. Unfortunately, the best way to remove the urine from the ducts themselves is by hiring a professional to go in and get rid of the stuff. They have the specialized equipment that is necessary to "scrub" out the interior of the ducts.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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What is 9 + 2?

2017-01-14 08:32:48


How to eliminate sour odor in air vents.

2016-10-07 08:10:38


I have a dead animal in my vents, I have COPD.
I can't afford a equipments or anyone to help get rid of the dead animal or clean my vents. What can I do.

2016-07-23 06:10:27


I have a smell and it's coming from around where the main a/c unit is located in my mobile home. The smell is strong around their and when I turn the unite on then the smell comes through my vents. Now do I have ducts underneath my mobile home in between flooring and black paper, the paper is not torn in that area.

2015-11-02 14:04:53

joyce small

I have had an ongoing odor from
my house vents ever since June..
At first I thought it was just
the AC or the heat but now
it comes and goes even in November.
Next stop is getting our air ducts
cleaned out.
I hope that works.

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