How Much Does Air Duct Cleaning Cost? A Budgeting Guide


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  • Typical Range: $269 to $486
  • National Average: $373

If you’re concerned about the air quality inside your home, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that most of the dust and dirt inside of air ducts adheres to the sides of the ducts and don’t necessarily enter the home where you can breathe it. The EPA recommends that duct cleaning is needed when there is visible mold growth within the air ducts or on other sections of the heating and cooling system. Some other important reasons for air duct cleaning are if the ducts show evidence of an insect or rodent infestation; if the ducts are visibly clogged with dust, dirt, and debris; or if dust and particulates are being released into the living space where they can be inhaled. According to HomeAdvisor, air duct cleaning costs range from $269 to $486, with the national average at $373. It’s recommended that air duct cleaning be done as needed, or every 5 to 7 years. Some factors that affect overall air duct cleaning costs are how dirty the duct system is, the size of the ductwork, the ease of duct system access, and the number of vents. It’s recommended that the cleaning service should attend to all components of the air duct system, including the blower, heat exchanger, drain pan, coils, and plenum.

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Factors in Calculating Air Duct Cleaning Cost  

Several factors affect overall air duct cleaning costs. Prices can differ from the national average due to the size and type of ductwork, the number of vents, accessibility, contamination level, local labor costs, and geographic location.

Size of Ductwork 

Air duct cleaning costs depend on the ductwork size. Air duct cleaning professionals typically charge by the vent or by the square foot. Duct cleaning costs approximately $25 to $50 per vent. To find out the average price, count each duct and multiply by $35. Each vent connects the HVAC system to each room via ducts. If the professional charges by the square foot, it will cost about $0.15 to $0.25 per square foot. The total price for a 1,500- to 2,500-square-foot house can run between $225 and $625 on average. Some air duct cleaning companies may also charge by the system. On average, cleaning can cost from $300 to $700 per HVAC system.

Type of Ductwork 

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There are different materials, tools, and cleaning methods for foam board, fiberglass, flex, or rigid ducts.  Foam board or fiberglass ducts can be cleaned with contact vacuuming, air washing, or power brushing. Flex ductwork requires specialized equipment, and not every company may offer the service. Rigid ductwork is more straightforward to clean, and virtually every duct cleaning company should offer the service.

Number of Vents

Air duct vent cleaning can average between $25 and $45 per supply vent and $40 and $75 per return vent. Price estimates can be arranged according to four different pricing methods.

  • Per vent. Some air duct cleaning professionals will charge by how many vents there are in the system.
  • Per vent plus flat fee. Some companies will charge a flat fee for air duct cleaning and add a fee per vent.
  • Per vent plus trip fee. Some other companies may charge a fee for their trip to your home to cover overhead costs and then add the price of each vent separately.
  • Per square foot. Some air duct cleaning professionals will charge by the home’s square footage to determine air duct cleaning costs.

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Accessibility 

Many homes will have entry points in the basement or utility room that provide easy access to the air duct system. There may be an extra charge if there are difficult-to-reach areas in the attic or tight crawl spaces. The overall cost will vary depending on the location, the air duct cleaning company, and project scope.

Contamination Level 

In addition to dust, air ducts can contain contaminants such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites, mold spores, mildew, and bacteria. The level of contamination of the air duct system will determine the price range for duct cleaning. The more contaminated the ductwork, the more time it will take to clean.

Labor  

Many air duct cleaning companies will charge by the vent or square footage of the home. They rarely charge by the hour, but they will assess the contamination level of the air duct system, the system size, the air handler location, and accessibility to determine the time it will take to clean.

Geographic Location 

Your geographic location also impacts air duct cleaning costs. Here are some air duct cleaning prices from major cities

  • Denver, CO: $240 to $400
  • Phoenix, AZ: $320 to $480
  • Atlanta, GA: $230 to $460
  • Jacksonville, FL: $260 to $510
  • Oklahoma City, OK: $200 to $380
  • Des Moines, IA: $340 to $420

Additional Costs and Considerations

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When budgeting for air duct cleaning costs, there will be additional price factors and considerations. These can range from menial, like inspection fees and repairs, to more significant, like pests, mold, or asbestos.

Inspection

Air duct inspection costs range from $80 to $180. Some companies will apply the cost of inspection toward the cleaning if you use the same company. A camera is used to inspect the ductwork and check for pests, damage, debris, mold, insulation issues, and dust buildup. Inspecting and cleaning a furnace can cost between $100 and $300 or as much as $500 if an air conditioner is included. Cleaning an air conditioning unit averages between $50 and $200.

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Vent Cleaning

Vent cleaning costs approximately $25 to $50 per vent. To find the average price, count the number of ducts and multiply by $35. Dryer vent cleaning costs from $100 to $170. If the service is included with the overall air duct cleaning, some cleaning companies may include it for $100 or less. Clogged dryer vents can result in a longer drying time for clothes, an increased risk of a house fire, and less energy efficiency.

Number of Furnaces and AC Units 

The more furnaces and air conditioning units there are in a house, the more it will cost to clean the air ducts. Each additional furnace will cost an extra $400 per furnace and ductwork. Although it’s not common for homes to have more than one furnace, a second furnace is often found in homes with additions where the original furnace was not powerful enough to heat the entire space.

Pests

Rodents and insects can make their way into an air duct system and create a cozy home. They may chew their way into the ductwork, or there may be an unsealed area with easy access. Rodent droppings can cause respiratory illness. Pest control can range from $150 to $500 to remove mice, rats, or other rodents. If you notice any droppings within the air duct system, call an exterminator. A rodent or insect infestation may require more than just a simple duct cleaning.

Mold and Mildew Removal

In addition to air duct cleaning costs, professional mold and mildew removal can add between $600 and $2,000. Removing mold and mildew involves special equipment, chemicals, and additional time. Air duct sanitizing costs $70 to $150. This will prevent future mold and mildew growth. Keep in mind that most air duct cleaning doesn’t remove all traces of mold. Duct sanitizing involves spraying an antibacterial disinfectant into the ductwork. The EPA, insulation experts, and air duct professionals acknowledge that moisture should not be inside fiberglass-lined ductwork. If the mold and mildew problem is severe, the air duct cleaning professionals may refer you to a specialist to take care of the job.

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Asbestos Removal

An air duct cleaning professional should be able to inspect the duct system to make sure there are no asbestos materials in the heating and cooling system. Removing asbestos materials requires specialized procedures. The material should not be removed or disturbed except by specially trained professionals. The cost of asbestos removal will depend on its extent, but the national average is about $2,000.

Custom Ducts

Expect to pay 25 to 30 percent more for custom-designed ducts. The job will take longer than cleaning stock ductwork since the cleaning professionals need to take their time and make sure they do the job right. Custom ductwork increases the labor cost and may require specialized tools or techniques.

Duct Repair or Replacement

Your air duct cleaning professional may recommend furnace repair if damage to the blower motor or heat exchanger is observed. If repairs are needed, furnace repair costs $130 to $500, and air conditioning repair costs $160 to $550 on average. Custom ductwork may cost more to repair or replace since it’s more difficult to find replacement parts.

Air Duct Coating 

The producers of products marketed to coat duct surfaces assert that air duct coating sealants will prevent dust and other particles inside the ducts from being released into the home. According to the EPA, tests have shown that the sealant does not completely cover the duct surface, and it may impact the efficacy of fire and acoustic retardant fiberglass ducts. Having a coating applied to the ductwork may also invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty. Not much is known regarding the toxicity of these products and what happens if they catch fire. There is also concern about the breakdown of the coating sealant and whether it would add additional particles to the ductwork air.

HVAC Inspection and Cleaning

HVAC cleaning can run from $100 to $1,000 or more. Professional cleaning companies will usually charge one of three ways: a flat rate, per vent, or by square feet. Some air duct cleaning companies will have a package rate based on the total number of vents or square feet, and others will charge based on the individual needs of your HVAC system.

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Furnace or AC Repairs

A furnace or air conditioning unit may need to be repaired if an air duct cleaning professional detects damage. The cost to repair a furnace is between $130 to $500 and the cost to repair an air conditioning unit is $160 to $550.

Do I Need Air Duct Cleaning?

It’s recommended that air duct cleaning be done as needed or if there is visible dirt, dust, debris, mold, insect infestation, or rodent droppings. The EPA supports air duct cleaning if the dust and debris are being released into the home. Those with allergies and severe respiratory illnesses may benefit from air duct cleaning. Some advantages of air duct cleaning are health benefits, improved system performance and airflow efficiency, extension of the HVAC lifespan, and possible odor elimination.

Health Benefits

Dirty or dusty ducts don’t necessarily mean the air inside your home is unhealthy. Still, for those with allergies, asthma, or autoimmune disorders, contaminants in the ductwork may cause irritation or illness. The ductwork inside a home may distribute contaminant particles throughout the home. If this is the case, then air duct cleaning will aid in cleaner air circulating throughout a home.

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Improved System Performance and Air Flow Efficiency

Ductwork with a heavy buildup of dust and debris may prevent adequate airflow and impede smooth system performance. The HVAC system will have to work harder to get air through the ducts, which will decrease energy efficiency. A clean system that’s clear of dirt and dust will run smoothly and provide an energy-efficient and cost-effective circulation of air throughout your home.

HVAC Lifespan Extension

A dirty HVAC system will put unnecessary wear and tear on the entire system, which may cause it to break down. You may be able to avoid costly repairs or untimely replacement with a clean HVAC system.

Odor Elimination

Pets, tobacco smoke, cooking odors, dirt, dust, and mold can contribute to stale smells throughout a home. When a furnace or air conditioner runs, it will redistribute the unpleasant odors through the house. A dirty air duct system will add to any unpleasant smells that are present. By removing any odor-causing particles, air duct cleaning will result in a fresher-smelling home.

Air Duct Cleaning Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

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It is not recommended to clean air ducts as a DIY project. A professional air duct cleaner will have the special equipment needed to properly clean the ductwork thoroughly. Improper DIY air duct cleaning can cause damage to the ductwork, lining, insulation, and connections within the HVAC system. A licensed, professional cleaner has the correct rotary brushes, high-powered vacuums, and other special equipment to do the job right. A professional will clean all parts of the system, including the grilles, supply and return ducts, exchangers, diffusers, fans, drip pans, and the air handling unit. This takes time and the expertise to know how to clean the ducts and not make the air quality worse. If an air duct system is improperly cleaned, it can stir up dust, pollen, debris, and other particulates that are released into the home. Hire an air duct cleaning professional if you notice visible mold, insulated ducts that are difficult to access, dust and debris clogging the ducts, or rodent droppings or if you’ve had recent construction on your home. Home renovation produces large amounts of dust and debris, and it can get inside the ductwork and recirculate inside the home.

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How to Save Money on Air Duct Cleaning Cost

Air duct cleaning costs can be high, and the additional costs associated with the project can quickly add up. However, air duct cleaning can save you money in the long run, so it may be worth it for certain homes.

  • Save on utility bills. Air duct cleaning costs are worth it when you can save between 10 and 30 percent on utility bills. Cleaning air ducts makes the system more efficient, which will help your wallet.
  • Air filters last longer. By removing particulate matter buildup, you can help extend the life of your air filters.
  • Reduce the risk of major repairs or replacement. By keeping the ducts and HVAC system in good condition, you lessen your chance of a costly, unexpected repair or replacement down the road.

Questions to Ask About Air Duct Cleaning Cost

Asking a professional the right questions about air duct cleaning costs can minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the desired results. Here are some questions to ask an air duct cleaning professional.

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Do you have workers’ compensation?
  • What is the price range for this air duct cleaning job?
  • Tell me about the technicians who will clean the air ducts in my home.
  • How long will the job take?
  • Does your business follow the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) guidelines?
  • What specialized tools will you use?
  • Do you offer a warranty?
  • Do you have references?

FAQs

Deciding on air duct cleaning while staying within your budget can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about air duct cleaning costs to help guide you in your decisions.

Q. How often should I clean my air ducts? 

The EPA recommends air ducts be cleaned if they are contaminated with large amounts of dirt, dust, and debris; if there is visible mold; or if there is a rodent or insect infestation. HomeAdvisor recommends air ducts cleaning every 5 to 7 years or as necessary.

Q. How do I know if I need to clean my air ducts?

Air ducts should be cleaned if there is visible evidence of mold; if there are large amounts of dust, dirt, and debris that are blocking the ductwork; if there is visible dust coming out of air vents into your home; if the ducts are infested with insects or rodents; or if your home has recently undergone a renovation.

Q. Does duct cleaning remove mold? 

Air duct cleaning can remove mold, but there is evidence that cleaning may not always remove 100 percent of mold. If the issue is severe, a mold remediation professional may need to be called in to remove and prevent the recurrence of mold within the ductwork.

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