If you have made an appointment with an HVAC contractor to have a new air conditioning system secured in your home, then there typically is not much that you need to do to prepare for the visit. Unfortunately, this is not true if you hear mice running through your heating and cooling vents. These mice should be fully eradicated and the vents need to be cleaned before the HVAC professional arrives. Otherwise, the contractor may come into contact with mice or their fecal matter. This can cause a serious illness or infection. Follow the steps below to make sure the air vents in your house are safe and clean.
Drive the Mice Away
If you hear mice in your air vents, then the first thing that you need to do is drive the mice from the metal channels. You can place snap and glue traps inside the ducts, but injured mice may drag the traps far into the vents. If the mice die, then it will be difficult to remove them. This means that it is much better to force the mice to leave the vents on their own.
One of the easiest ways to force mice out of your vents is to soak cotton rags with ammonia. Stuff these rags just inside the tops of your air vents. Mice do not like the smell of ammonia, because they confuse the smell with animal urine. Ammonia is a byproduct produced when proteins are metabolized. Most carnivorous animals release urine that smells strongly of ammonia, and mice know to avoid this smell so they do not get eaten.
If the ammonia rags do not force the mice out of the ducts, then the rodents may not be able to smell the ammonia as strongly as they should. Position fans at the tops of your vents to help force the smell throughout the channels. Also, add new ammonia to the rags every two days to make sure the scent is strong.
Clean Up the Mess
Most people do not have the right tools to clean their ducts and vents properly. Without them, the mouse urine and feces will stay within the ducts. You can remove some of the loose mouse poop with the extension hose on your vacuum cleaner. Remove the screws from the metal vents and vacuum out the ducts as far as the vacuum hose can reach.
Buy a Chimney Brush
Once you have released the loose fecal matter, go to a fireplace or heating supply store and try to find a polyester chimney cleaning brush. The brush is made for cleaning metal chimney pipes that are close to the same diameter as air ducts. When you purchase the brush, make sure to also buy polypropylene or nylon rods that attach to the handle. The rods are long and flexible, so they can move around corners and tight bends in the ductwork.
After you buy the chimney brush, attach the handle. Mix up a disinfectant solution of bleach and water in a spray bottle. Add one-quarter cup of bleach and fill the rest of the container with water. Shake the bottle and wet the end of the brush. Move the brush down the length of your air vent. After each pass through the vent, remove the brush and rinse it off with water. Spray the end with your bleach solution again and clean each vent five times in this manner.
If the chimney brush is extremely dirty after it passes through the ductwork, then tie a cotton rag tightly around the brush. Soak the rag with your bleach solution and move it through the duct. This will help to clear away more urine and it will disinfect the ducts effectively. If you decide to clean the ducts with a rag, then make sure to tie a dry rag around the brush to get rid of any bleach residue that is left behind in your ductwork.
After you finish your cleaning, make sure to inform your HVAC professional that mice were living in your ducts. This may, gloves and dust masks can be worn in case you missed some of the mouse droppings.
If you have scheduled an HVAC appointment, then you need to work quickly to get rid of the mice that scurry through your vents. This is incredibly important so the air conditioning professional does not become injured or sick from the mice or the droppings left behind.