That’s what happened the day Thomas, one of our residential technicians, made a call to a downtown house-turned-business.
The new occupant pointed out a smell that they couldn’t get rid of. The description? It was “the smell of death.” In every single room!
“The culprit was clearly in the crawl space,” Thomas said, “but what could it be? A dead possum? Disconnected ducts? Raw sewage?” The only way to find out was to “make the descent into the dark abyss.”
Turns out, it was the tiniest crawl space entrance he’d ever seen: he had to “shimmy like a snake” into a one-by-two-foot hole.
Lying down inside a space that barely cleared his chest, he flipped on his headlight to find “holes in the ducts everywhere. It was as if there were hundreds of squirrel-sized rats infesting this home. Any air that was to be distributed into the home would evidently leak into the crawl space and the odors of rat feces and carcasses would seep into the house.”
It was every technician’s nightmare. And every homeowner’s.
Thomas knew immediately that all the ductwork needed to be replaced. When our team went back to do the job, it required more shimmying, removing the ductwork pieces one by one, and replacing them the same way, starting from the far end of the crawl space and working all the way back to the tiny access point. He even had to dig a tunnel by hand to squeeze himself beneath a support beam.
When the job was complete, Thomas dumped his clothes in the trash.
“My empathy for the client…pushed me to complete this nightmare,” he said. “Keeping [my] sanity was one of the most difficult tasks. It was dark and cramped…like a coffin underground.”
Needless to say, not every job is this intense. But if you do end up needing interference like this, you definitely want an experienced technician on the job. If you’ve inherited a neglected space, as these business owners did, there’s not much you can do other than get a professional on the job.
To avoid a situation like this, have home care professionals out regularly to check our spaces.
If you have an HVAC technician out once a year to check your systems, they may find things you haven’t noticed, like pest infestations or rotting ceilings. As trained technicians, they can often spot a soft spot, see mold in places where you wouldn’t typically be looking, or advise you if they notice lackluster insulation. If they catch problems like these soon enough, it could save you a lot of money.
Of course, our technicians will mainly make sure your HVAC system is working well. We recommend regular maintenance check because when serviced regularly, your system will be more efficient and more economical.
Hats off to Thomas and all the techs who find themselves in truly difficult situations—but get the job done anyway and who, day after day, keep HVAC systems humming.