Help Me With the Stench of Death Under My Deck
June 19, 2014 9:12 AM   Subscribe

So, something has died (or more likely been killed by one of the many neighborhood cats) under my deck and the smell is pretty awful. I know nature will take its course (probably somewhat quickly as it's summer in North Carolina and thus ludicrously hot and humid) but is there anything I can do to counteract the smell?

My deck is low to the ground, too low for a adult human (or even a normal sized kid human) to crawl underneath, so getting whatever is under there out is a non-option. I sit out there all the time and I had planned to have people over for cocktails this weekend. And though I have a gnawing suspicion that the answer to this question is "no," save nose plugs, is there anything at all I can do?
posted by thivaia to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How long is your longest rake?

You could surely throw money at this - I'm not sure *who* you call to come get it but there is someone (maybe a pest control place, maybe just google "dead animal removal" for your area) who has a long pole with something on the end of it, an iron stomach, and maybe a gas mask.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:26 AM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Depending a little on how the deck is made: I'd sniff myself to the hotspot, then partially disassemble the deck (by taking off single planks; if nailed you need a crowbar, if screwed you need a screwdriver [Okay. If none of these alternatives you may be screwed]) and scoop the dead critter out from underneath.
posted by Namlit at 9:29 AM on June 19, 2014

Best answer: I'm in the "wait it out" camp. I recently had a dead rodent somewhere not easily accesible in my house. It was about 24 hours of slow-build smelliness, followed by 24 hours of awful, but the smell was gone just 12 hours after that. If you're hitting peak rankness now on Friday morning, most of the smell should be gone by the time Saturday afternoon or evening guests arrive. If not, what's left could probably be masked by some citronella candles.
posted by whitewall at 9:46 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh man. I'm not sure waiting it out is the best idea. In one place I lived in Los Angeles, we had something die under a barn. The smell was awful, but it kept getting worse. It was several days, maybe a week, before my boyfriend and our neighbor finally went in to get it out. It was a big animal, I think (my boyfriend was too traumatized to really talk about it), so maybe that makes a difference. Also, maybe the dry LA weather prolonged the process...I'm not sure.
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:06 AM on June 19, 2014

Best answer: Open bowls of vinegar place all around your deck will help de-odorize, but if it's bigger than a squirrel it will probably still be noticeable (and if it's that bad to you outside it is probably more than something a cat killed).

I had a similar situation last summer, turns out it was a big raccoon, glad we didn't wait it out although it had probably been a good week before it was removed, and glad I'm a renter with a good landlord who went under the deck.
posted by lafemma at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cost me $200 to have a guy come out and remove a dead deer from under my deck and haul it away. Sure, it would have decomposed eventually, but who knows how long that would have taken and how much stench and how many flies I would have had to endure for that time. If you can smell it from on top of the deck, it's not like it's a mouse or a squirrel, it's going to be something like a possum or raccoon at least.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:07 PM on June 19, 2014

Is this something Animal Control or an exterminator will help with?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:48 PM on June 19, 2014

Best answer: i had an animal die in an inaccessibly spot under my shed. didnt want to spend a lot to get to it, so went to local coffee shop (in this case Peets) and got bags of used coffee grounds. Threw them as much under the shed as possible, but a number of open containers of coffee in the shed as well. Made it quite usable until the problem resolved itself, which was not as long as you might guess. You might try it, it is free & easy.
posted by jcworth at 4:39 PM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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