Duct cleaning has become popular in recent years because indoor air quality is an important issue for homeowners. The Environmental Protection Agency lists indoor air pollution as a significant health risk, and forced air HVAC systems make the issue worse in some homes. But how much does duct cleaning cost, how often should you clean your air ducts and is it worth the money? Are there other things you should be doing to improve indoor air quality? Let’s answer these questions.
- Duct Cleaning Cost vs. DIY Cost
- Bargain Duct Cleaning and High-end Duct Cleaning
- Factors that Affect Duct Cleaning Cost
- The Cost of Damaged Ducts
- How to Get the Best AC Duct Cleaning Prices
- How Often Should You Have Ducts Cleaned?
- When Must You Clean your Ducts?
- Duct Repair, Not Duct Cleaning
- Duct Cleaning Conclusion
Duct Cleaning Cost vs. DIY Cost
Duct cleaning cost is $30-$40 per vent – that means both supply vents and return air vents and the ductwork they serve:
- Supply vents are connected to ducts that carry air pushed from the furnace or air handler into your home’s living spaces.
- Return vents are connected to ducts that carry air pulled into your furnace or air handler where it is heated or cooled.
If your home has 12 vents, expect duct cleaning cost estimates in the $360-$480 range.
Sound like too much already? For less than $175, you can purchase the equipment needed to do the job yourself. Our thorough and very useful article How to Clean HVAC Air Ducts and Vents Yourself is “must” reading if you’re considering having your ducts cleaned, especially if you’re a DIY homeowner willing to put in the work to save some cash.
Let’s look at the cost of the equipment needed to clean ducts, as outlined in our DIY article:
- Shop vacuum (3.0 horsepower or stronger): $55-$85
- Hose accessory, 20ft: $35-$45
- Duct cleaning brush: $15-$25
- Replacement furnace filter: $8-$20 for a quality air filter, not a cheap replacement
At the high end, that’s $167 – less than the cost having your ducts cleaned once.
Bargain Duct Cleaning and High-end Duct Cleaning
The range of $30-$40 per vent i average costs. For the same 12-vent home, you might get duct cleaning estimates for less than $100 and more than $700. Let’s discuss the reason for cheap estimates and very costly ones too.
It’s not hard to find bargain duct cleaning starting at about $125, sometimes less. You should know that it is not worth a duct cleaning company’s time and expense to properly clean a home’s ducts for that price. The two likely outcomes of taking a low-ball estimate are:
- Poor work: They won’t do a thorough job, and are on their way in less than two hours
- Bait and switch: They are using the low offer to get in your home where they soon will find mold in your ductwork that will require you to pay them $500-plus to remove
Too fast to be effective: In the first scenario, you’ve wasted your money.
Mold professional needed: In the second scenario, if you do have mold in your ducts – a very rare occurrence – then you don’t need your ducts cleaned as badly as you need to find out what is causing it and why and getting it repaired. If you’re told you have black mold or other terrible-sounding mold/mildew issue, say, “Thank you for letting me know. I’ll have a mold specialist check the ducts, and if there is mold, I’ll pay your initial cost estimate for alerting me to the issue.” Then, ask them to leave. Call a mold company, have them inspect your ducts and demonstrate to you conclusively whether there is mold.
Factors that Affect Duct Cleaning Cost
There are a few obvious factors affecting cost:
- Number of vents
- Number of furnaces – Large homes and homes with additions often have more than one
- Furnace location – If it is in a hard-to-reach place like a crawlspace or attic, cost might be higher
The Cost of Damaged Ducts
There’s a potential hidden cost in having your ductwork cleaned – damage that isn’t immediately discovered. How is damaged ductwork costly?
- Damaged ducts leak: Let’s say ductwork in the basement is loosened. When air conditioning is running, cold air is leaking into the basement, an area that probably doesn’t need the AC anyway. Less cool air is getting to the upper levels of your home where warm air is accumulating, so the AC runs longer and works harder to do the job. That raises utility costs and will eventually lead to AC mechanical failure. Plus, your home won’t be as cool and dehumidified as necessary to make it comfortable.
- Costly repairs: Tracking down leaking ducts and repairing them takes time and materials, and you will be billed at a rate of more than $50 per hour.
You may also like to read: HVAC Ductwork Cost and Ultimate Buying Guide
How to Get the Best AC Duct Cleaning Prices
Making it your top priority to get the lowest price on cleaning could lead to problems. When you looking for the best deals for duct cleaning, keep in mind that cleaning quality is always the most important thing.
We suggest you need to ask for at least 3 bids before you make the decision. You can click here to get 3 free estimates for you local contractor, and this estimate already filter unqualified contractors automatically.
How Often Should You Have Ducts Cleaned?
Many HVAC professionals do not believe that regular duct cleaning is necessary for most homes. Those who feel that way suggest the need for cleaning your ducts can be prevented by:
- Using a high-quality furnace or air handler filter
- Vacuuming your home weekly, especially if you have pets that shed
- Having your AC system maintained and cleaned, so that it will dehumidify the air properly, which is essential in preventing mold growth
- Using a basement dehumidifier if your basement is damp
- Not running a system humidifier excessively
When Must You Clean your Ducts?
Duct Repair, Not Duct Cleaning
There are times when ducts need maintenance and repair, but most companies that only clean ducts do not repair them.
- If ductwork has been flooded: When a dishwasher leaks or clothes washer overflows, water can run into a floor vent, possibly causing mold. If odors start coming from the vent, call a mold specialist to investigate.
- When insects or rodents have infested them: Bugs and rodents like mice can only get into gaps and breaks in ductwork. Those duct failures must be repaired. Cleaning ducts won’t keep out future infestations.