Believe it or not! Indianapolis air duct cleaners share their favorite finds

Believe it or not! Indianapolis air duct cleaners share their favorite finds

What do dead animals, bottles of urine, missing pets, meth labs and chess have in common? Indianapolis-area air duct cleaners say the answer might surprise you.

Although not all finds are as bizarre as those listed below, professional duct cleaners say even they struggle to comprehend some of the items they find inside clients’ air ducts.

Aside from the dirt and debris they expect, they say some things leave them with more questions than answers. Think you’ve heard it all? Here’s a glimpse of what veterans from Mite-E-Ducts in Zionsville and Air Cleaning Experts in Greenwood, say they’ve encountered:

Checkmate, Mom!

One air duct cleaner says he was surprised when he opened the air duct in a hallway in Indy and found an in-progress chess game. After asking the homeowner about the interesting find, her two children admitted to playing the game in the air duct after they were grounded for fighting about it earlier that week. One would distract Mom, while the other made his move. Checkmate Mom!


 (Photo by )
Illustration by Bruce Snow (Photo by )

Breaking bad

Even AMC’s infamous character, Walter White, from “Breaking Bad,” would be disappointed in the stupidity shown by some drug makers, one pro says. Elmer James, owner of highly rated Air Cleaning Experts, says one aspiring drug maker set up a meth lab in his home’s air ducts to hide his work from police and inquiring visitors. However, toxic chemicals have a way of polluting the air and when the landlord stopped by to collect rent and felt his nose hairs singe, he called James for answers. Several arrests later, James finished the week-long hazardous cleanup.

For more: Is Air Duct Cleaning Worth It?

Lost pet

When a 6-year-old girl let her pet chinchilla loose in her room and couldn’t find it a few hours later, she hid the missing pet from her mom by putting blankets and decorations around the pet’s enclosure and pretending to feed it. A month later, after desperately trying to get rid of a horrible odor in her home, the homeowner called Mite-E-Ducts field manager, Chad Engle, to investigate the air ducts. Unfortunately for the little girl and her pet, the chinchilla fell from the air duct onto a heater coil and filled the home with the smell of baked chinchilla.

"A" for effort

A Broad Ripple fourth-grader earns an "A" for effort after his attempt to hide a bad report card from his parent lasted nearly a month, thanks to help from an air duct in his room. The parents thought the mail carrier might have misplaced the report card, however after a suspicious teacher called the home, the student’s secret was exposed. His parents scoured his room for proof of the hidden report card and called for professional help when they realized how much stuff the student was stashing in his secret spot. Years of hiding notes from teachers and leftover food provided an area perfect for mold growth. The parents gave the fourth-grader an "F" for costing them $300 for the cleanup.

Related: Check out the Angie's List Guide to Air Duct Cleaning

Mark your territory

“When you have to go, you have to go,” says James, about finding over 50 bottles of urine in air ducts across the city. James figures that when builders worked on homes with incomplete bathrooms and plumbing, they took marking their territory to another level. James has also found decaying human feces, animal waste and dead snakes, cats, squirrels, gerbils and opossums.

Unanswered questions

Pros say despite the great stories they’ve heard, there are some ducts they choose to avoid. This was the case when one pro found secret cell phones, cash, a lease for another home and a wedding ring hidden in the ducts during a routine cleaning. The wife didn’t give her husband much time to explain, as his stuff was in the front lawn before the service provider left.

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