Inhaling contaminated air is only one of the worries a person should have if they haven’t had their ducts cleaned in a while.

Hollie Tayal, owner/operator of Modern PURAIR® franchise in the South Okanagan, has seen more mice in the last month – than in her entire life – climbing and living amongst the ducts in homes.

“We were told that we would see some weird stuff in people’s vents, but this is crazy,” said Tayal. “I think Penticton homeowners would be creeped out to know that their vents are rodent – safe havens.”

Starting her Modern PURAIR® franchise just over two months ago, Tayal has been finding the vermin and many other surprises while air duct cleaning.

“Just in the Okanagan, we’ve heard of our vacuums sucking up diamond rings, stashes of pot, full cans of beer and even a wad of $1,500.”

Tucked in amongst the scattered coffee cups from construction workers and dust build – up Tayal has found that the reason there are so many mice in vents is because of the steady temperature. She says the vents are easy for them to get into and once they are in there it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

“Right now is when mice are looking for that perfect winter dwelling place and rodent droppings collecting in vents can be unhealthy,” she said.

The Kelowna-based, Modern PURAIR® often cleans buildings where sick – building syndrome could be affecting work productivity and general health issues.

“It’s not just at work that people should want clean air. People can get sick at home, just from the air they’re breathing in,” said Tayal.

And according to Lane Martin, chief operating officer of Modern PURAIR®, the stories of what they find in the vents can range from dust to the just plain weird.

“We do a lot of brand new homes, so sometimes we will find contractors’ bag lunches and beer bottles and recently at one of our commercial jobs, we found a stack of 1965 adult magazines,” said Martin. “We have also found a 1950s coin collection, a pop can from 1961 and $1,800 in rolled up bills. Our technicians are taught to give whatever they find back to the home owner and in the case of the money it was a rental home that was purchased, so the new owners contacted the old and they split the money.”

Martin designed the duct cleaning system with his father, Don Martin, and started up a corporate headquarters just over two years ago in Kelowna which acts as a call centre that could be hiring up to 45 people with the growth of more franchises. Their goal is to make the Modern PURAIR® franchises a coast-to-coast venture that will be a brand name that people will distinctly know.

“We want to be known as the FedEx of indoor air quality furnace cleaning. Over the last five years we have researched and developed this system and business model and worked it so that all the vacuum units are being locally built and all our suppliers are local, which is nice,” said Lane.

The father and son duo used their wealth of experience in the industry to design the Modern PURAIR® concept. Don was one of the first people in Western Canada to clean furnace air ducts in the ‘60s. From there he branched out and his son, Lane, joined him in re-branding their company and developing their own cutting-edge heating, ventilation and air conditioning cleaning systems.

The system is different from the traditional vacuum truck in that they are not putting any emissions back into the environment by running off electrical power. Unique to the PURAIR® method is the fact that the client has the opportunity to see what has been pulled from their ducts, resulting in the strange stories the technicians have from rodents to family heirlooms.

“Our system can make a huge difference to people with allergies or asthma because we are actually cleaning the system, not just blowing air through it. The air ducts in a home are like the lungs and cleaning them with the Pur CuRx system can make a tremendous difference because dust often holds odours.

Getting rid of that dust makes the house smell fresher and reduces the amount of dust you find in your home,” said Lane, who noted that the average house can be cleaned for $200-$300 depending on the square footage.

Modern PURAIR® franchise owners Hollie Tayal (left) and Rick Tayal (right) have been finding the strangest things in South Okanagan homes while cleaning their ducts.