dead odor in heating ducts

A few days ago I started to smell an odor coming out of heating ducts -- from all vents. This reminds me of rotten chicken.
If some animal did die in the heating ducts, how do you find and get rid of it?
Can I hire a furnace vacuum truck to suck it out? They said they attach the vacuum hose to the fan compartment of the furnace. I don't quite understand. Do they remove the furnace to do this? And would this allow them to suck out a small animal? This cost $250 and I'm not sure it would work.
Other suggestions?
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Just a guess, but I think a trapped animal would head toward the light for an escape route. So, I would remove each first floor heat vent cover and use a hand mirror & powerful flashlight to see if the creature was near the end of a horizontal duct run just below a vent. Next, I'd investigate the horizontal ducts in the basement to see if any were screwed together, instead of riveted. You could unscrew them, and the rest should be self explanatory. If you don't understand this idea, you may want to call your regular heating contractor. Those people can easily disassemble riveted ducts and put them back together.
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On Fri, 28 Dec 2007 13:04:42 -0800, James wrote:

Look in the compartment where the blower/filter usually is.
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yeah the filter area tends to be the lowest, animal falls and get trapped..... and dies.
call regular heating contractor this happens a lot
avoid disassembling ductwork unless you know what your doing. it can be a mess.
a friends fell down, 2 people one entire day to reassemble
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Look at the filter area
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The filter is above the furnace in the garage. The return air comes from above the garage, down through the furnace, then down into the crawlspace, and then up into floor registers.
I already check the filter. Clean and odor free. I guess I will next try to sniff each floor register when the furnace is off (yuck). If I don't find one with a strong odor, then I guess I'll venture into the crawlspace and explore the ducts there.
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If you suspect the odor comes from an expired mouse, I wouldn't worry too much. It won't last long. Check the places you can check easily. But I wouldn't start ripping out ducts or drywall for a single mouse.
Of course, if you suspect a larger animal, a more extensive search would be appropriate.
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James wrote:

If by chance the home is a pier/bean foundation and the heater return is downstairs the carcass may be under the house on the ground... the odor permeates into the home from below, drawn into the air return then dispersed through the house via the ducts.
Lar
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