We are reminded too often in this business that blood and body fluids can find their way into unexpected, hard to reach places. The bathroom is no exception. We got the call that someone passed away on the floor in the narrow space between the toilet and bathtub of a 1-bedroom apartment. Estimated time of decomposition: 3 weeks. (A 3-week decomp in a confined space with no windows creates a less than pleasant odor, btw)
We started this job like any other; working our way into the contaminated area from the door of the room toward the greatest concentration of fluids. After making our way to the bathtub, we discovered that fluids had fortunately not found entry into the space between the tub and the floor. Our job is often greatly impacted by the timing of updates to a home. Fresh caulking and grout can prevent fluids from getting into cracks or under flooring; which is why for this particular job, we didn’t have to pull the tub. We weren’t so lucky with the toilet.
The caulking around the toilet had rotted away and we could see that fluids were able to get into the space between the toilet and the vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring now has to be pulled. But because there’s no seal between the base of the toilet and the subflooring, the contamination is likely to make it’s way under the toilet as well. Time to pull the toilet. Then more bad news; a busted drain ring and widespread contamination in the base of the toilet, throughout the broken drain ring and into the mouth of the drain.
Jobs like these remind us that contamination isn’t just what’s visible. The depth and detail of the job are often revealed to us as we work through it. This is why it is critical that crime scene cleaning be done meticulously; considering every possibility.
As we walked up to the house we began to notice a humming sound growing louder the closer we got. We thought maybe an appliance had been left on or something. Looking into the kitchen the source of the humming became clear; hundreds and hundreds of flies. In our history of crime scene cleaning, this was by far the biggest swarm of flies we had encountered. They were bouncing off the windows, walls, cabinets and appliances. Humming mystery had been solved; it was as if we had walked into a bee hive. And under the swarm laid the reason the hive was raging. Had we not been told the circumstances on the phone, we would have guessed that more than one person had passed away in that kitchen. We were not prepared for the amount of blood and body fluids we encountered that day. It had gone under the cabinetry, behind the appliances and had seeped into the the cracks of the vinyl flooring.
After removing the blood, body fluids and insects, we had to pull all the vinyl flooring, baseboards and cabinet toe boards. Located in the area of heaviest contamination was the stove. We had to clean, decontaminate and carefully remove it from the room. Start to finish the entire job took approximately eight hours; a long day in the world of crime scene cleaning.