Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Heating Duct Problem
Old 11-03-2009, 11:53 AM   #1
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
Heating Duct Problem

A month ago DW and I heard a chewing noise coming from our forced air heating vents (in the floor). The next day I set out traps and caught two mice. I think I got them all, because no mice have been caught in the traps since then.

Looking into the registers, I saw some chewed up insulation. I pushed a vacuum hose in a few feet, and I could hear it suck up some stuff.

Now, I'm noticing a sweet "grain" type smell coming out of the ducts. It's not foul or objectionable, but it's a smell that I associate with rodents, and I don't like it. The stuff the vacuum pulled up smelled very strongly of this.

Note that we only run the furnace for about 10 minutes a month to keep things working. We use wood heat the rest of the time. However, air flows slowly out of the ducts all the time (cold air -- a separate problem).

Any suggestions on how to fix this?

Option 1 is to go into the claustrophobic, dirty crawlspace, unhook the vents and try to clean stuff out somehow.

Option 2 is to hire a duct cleaning company like TheFed's.

Option 3 is to run the heat, and hope that whatever smells will dry up and stop smelling.

Suggestions? Thanks!
__________________

__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-03-2009, 12:18 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ls99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,792
Depends. You have more time or money?

The third option not likely to remove the source of the problem, but will minimise it, such as creating a dried out dead mouse..

On the plus side, if you dig into it, you might find where the critters got in. In any case wherever you can get to it sealing the the ducts with mastic would eliminate some of the leaks, which is a good thing.

Some of the airflows in the ducts are thermal siphoning. Only way to stop that is to block all vents, supply and return.

Happy hunting.
__________________

__________________
There must be moderation in everything, including moderation.
ls99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 12:48 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
calmloki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Independence
Posts: 5,460
Plastic flex duct under the house? That's most common. I'd opine that Mr. & Ms. Mousey chewed their way in from the outside of the duct, collected insulation from between the outer and inner shells, and started to set up housekeeping in the inner duct shell. That means you probably have holes in inner and outer shells which means you blow hot air out into the crawl when you run the heater and potentially blow fiberglass insulation into the living space. I'd say you are looking at finding the entry hole(s), cutting the duct open at that point, and rejoining with a metal sleeve.

Cut outer shell, pull back w/ insulation from inner shell, cut inner shell, insert metal sleeve, use giant zip-ties on cut ends, use the best duct tape to seal shell to sleeve, pull insulation and outer shell over sleeve, use zip-ties and duct tape again. Or spring the +-$60 for a 25' box of flex duct and replace the bad section. Been a while since I've bought a box of flexduct - probably lots spendier. Having the blower running will aid you search for the entry holes....
__________________
calmloki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 01:18 PM   #4
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Now, I'm noticing a sweet "grain" type smell coming out of the ducts. It's not foul or objectionable, but it's a smell that I associate with rodents, and I don't like it. The stuff the vacuum pulled up smelled very strongly of this.
Is it grain-fed rodent hantavirus urine?

How big are your ducts? Are you able to clean them yourself with a foxtail or one of those 4" diameter bristly dryer-exhaust brushes attached to a broomstick or a fish tape?
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 01:36 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
I think that's exactly right, Calmloki. I'll go down there tomorrow -- it's a real dirty job, and it's tough just getting in there.

IIRC the ducts are more like 10 inches or more in diameter.

I'm inclined to replaced them with unchewable metal ducts.

Quote:
Is it grain-fed rodent hantavirus urine?
I thought the same thing, but there is no urine component to the smell.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 02:20 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
calmloki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Independence
Posts: 5,460
Wonder if you can add some sort of persistent smoke to the inlet and block duct runs to isolate the problem duct run? Minimizing the crawl would be A Good Thing. finding the little mousy hole in the dark on your back will be a problem - if you can see smoke squirting out....
__________________
calmloki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 04:57 PM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,906
Al, I'm not sure how much room you have, but I was able to look into my ducts by using my digital camera and shooting flash pictures as far as my arm reached through the register hole. If that doesn't work, there is still the CFB leaf blower idea.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 08:06 PM   #8
Recycles dryer sheets
mews's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 477
Our building's plumber was doing some fairly gross survey work with a flashlight and a mirror on an extension pole.

ta,
mew
__________________
mews is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 11:01 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
Those are some good ideas. The smell has gotten worse, so tomorrow first thing I'm going down there.

Quote:
I was able to look into my ducts by using my digital camera and shooting flash pictures as far as my arm reached through the register hole.
You are a genius, Travelover. I just took a series of shots. Here's the worst one:

Ducts 014.jpg

Caption: The joys of home ownership
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 11:14 PM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
You are a genius, Travelover. I just took a series of shots. Here's the worst one:

Caption: The Joys of Home Ownership
It looks like the debris is very close to where the camera was---can you clean this up with a vacuum hose?. Then maybe spray everything down with some bleach solution?

Before you crawl under the house, you might want to put a drop-light or a lantern into the duct so you can find any small holes/leaks via the light shining through. Or, push a drop-light under the house with a pole and look into the duct with a mirror (or take a picture without the flash) to see if you can identify any holes.

I always look for an easy way out before doing a project the right way.
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 11:26 PM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
Quote:
It looks like the debris is very close to where the camera was---can you clean this up with a vacuum hose?
Yes, and I did that while you were posting. Here's the result:

Ducts 018.jpg
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2009, 11:28 PM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Telly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,448
Yuck. I'd find and fix where the mice entered the structure, then I'd replace the flex duct. The inner sleeve of flex duct won't take much abuse.

Just as a point of reference, in 2006 a 10" (that's inner diameter) by 25' long length at Home Depot was $35.98. They also have any take-off fittings, etc. that are used with it. Also gray (not white) giant plastic zip-ties like camloki talked about. For tape, I use the Nashua 324A foil tape. It sticks better than any tape I've used. Has release paper on the back of it. Position carefully, because when it touches, it's on!

If you go sheet metal duct instead, you will have to buy a lot of fittings, do a lot of cutting, sheet-metal screwing, taping, etc. Then, you will have to insulate the outside of the metal duct, with care to make the outer vapor barrier continuous.

I've done a lot of both over the years.
__________________
-- Telly, the D-I-Y guy --
Two fools dancing on the hands of time
Telly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 07:11 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,906
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
You are a genius, Travelover. I just took a series of shots. Here's the worst one:
Wow, good job.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 09:44 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
Quote:
then I'd replace the flex duct. The inner sleeve of flex duct won't take much abuse.
Thanks, Telly. Do you mean replace it with the same type of vinyl(?) flex duct? Is there flex duct that is mouse-proof? My ducting from the dryer is all metal, I believe.

I'm also wondering whether the mice can get into the ducts from the furnace (in the garage). The furnace is rarely on.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 10:34 AM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
OK, my first foray showed that the duct system looks pretty good from down there. I couldn't find any leaks. I think I would have felt the hot air escaping even from a small hole. The only evidence of mice was at a place where they had chewed on pipe insulation.

Replacing the ducting would be a big dirty job. Seems like professional duct cleaning is the way to go. Any advice, TheFed?
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 11:54 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
It would cost $500 to have the ducts cleaned. They remove the furnace, put on a big vacuum, then work from each register to push debris into the vacuum. This is followed by a disinfectant spray.

To have the ducting replaced with sheet metal ducts would be $2,100.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 12:15 PM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
calmloki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Independence
Posts: 5,460
You don't have three guys who will do anything for money down there? Larry, Darryl, & Darryl? or some wiry youth with a desire for a $100? In the second pic I can see a "Y" pretty close to the register, and, as Joansmithbffr alluded, that section isn't throttled down so it would be a straight replacement. Maybe stick your digital in the other registers and see if you see a bunch of mousey detritus. Betcha the mice stuck to one place mostly.

I was amazed how much garbage was in our new ducts after we got this place sheetrocked
__________________
calmloki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 12:40 PM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
calmloki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Independence
Posts: 5,460
Re: duct cleaning, from another thread

Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? | Indoor Air | US EPA

From the EPA -

"Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate mater in air ducts poses any risk to your health".
"You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.
On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt, and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements".


my bold
__________________
calmloki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 12:57 PM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,201
There was a little debris in all the ducts I took pictures of (for example, here's another):

Ducts 004.jpg

If there were more room in the crawlspace (slither space), I'd rip out the ducts and replace them. To give you an example, at one place I had to squeeze under a pipe, and I could only do it after exhaling.

And the ducts go under and over things -- it's a jungle down there.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2009, 01:14 PM   #20
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,072
Wow- T-Al - reminds me of Asimov's Incredible Voyage movie :-) Sad thing is those mice sure did leave a lot of fecal matter - YUCK!
__________________

__________________
Deserat aka Bridget
“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” - George Orwell/Winston Churchill
deserat is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Air Duct Cleaning Secret thefed Other topics 22 10-30-2009 02:07 PM
I want to expand my duct cleaning business...but how? thefed Other topics 5 08-04-2008 09:46 PM
Animal in Heating Duct TromboneAl Other topics 21 10-26-2007 10:11 AM
Duct tape Moemg Other topics 10 08-10-2007 01:51 AM
Duct Cleaning Sundance Kid Other topics 13 06-13-2007 12:27 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:39 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.