Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Air duct cleaning costs a national average of $725 but can range from $450 to $1,000. Routine air duct cleaning is vital for your central air conditioning and heating systems to function properly. The air duct network within HVAC systems significantly influences comfort, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. The ducts are difficult to access, so they need to be cleaned by professionals. We’ll outline typical air duct cleaning costs and other services these companies offer.
Average Air Duct Cleaning Cost
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average air duct cleaning cost is between $450 and $1,000. Where your project falls within that price range depends primarily on the following factors.
- Home size: Larger homes have more ductwork and take more labor to clean.
- Number of vents: Some companies charge per supply or return vent, though they often have added fees.
- Labor: The job’s complexity and scope will determine labor fees, which also vary from contractor to contractor.
Cost by House Size
While square footage isn’t the only cost factor, most homeowners pay approximately $0.14 to $0.25 per square foot of interior space for whole-house duct cleaning. Here’s how that breaks down for various home sizes.
|Home Size (Square Feet)||Cost|
Cost by Number of Vents
Many HVAC cleaning companies set prices with a flat fee plus an additional charge for the amount of air vents in your system. Each vent typically costs $25 to $50, with an average of $35. Here’s how that breaks down for number of vents:
|Number of Vents||Cost|
An air duct cleaning company will most likely charge around $90 to $125 per hour. Most jobs take between three and eight hours. Some contractors also charge per vent, with the average cost being around $25 to $50 per vent. Anything that increases the job’s time or difficulty may incur extra fees.
Additional Cost Considerations
Here are some additional factors that can impact the cost of air duct cleaning.
Most homes have some kind of easy access point for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts. If your home doesn’t, or if some system elements are difficult to reach through a cramped closet or crawlspace, you may end up paying more for labor.
Asbestos is a toxic fiber that was once commonly used as an insulating material. While it’s illegal now, older homes may still have some asbestos insulation around the ductwork. Removing or encapsulating asbestos is expensive—often $35 to $55 per foot—but it’s necessary to protect you and your family from serious illness.
Dryer Vent Cleaning
Clean dryer vents ensure efficient dryer performance and removes lint and other particles that pose a fire hazard. This service tends to cost between $101 and $176. If you bundle it with other air duct cleaning services, it will usually fall on the price range’s low end. If you want dryer vent cleaning only, it will tend toward the higher end.
It’s a good idea to have your ductwork and furnace inspected at least once per year. The cleaners will send a video camera through the ducts to look for damage, debris, visible mold, signs of pest infestation, and more. Air duct inspection typically costs $75 to $125.
Level of Contamination
It’s somewhat unusual for a company to charge more for dirtier ducts, unless the buildup of contaminants is so severe that it increases the project’s labor costs. Keep an eye on your ducts to ensure you take care of any potential problems early.
Mold and Mildew Removal
Particularly in humid climates, mildew and mold growth can occur in your home’s HVAC ducts, sending spores into your home’s air that act as allergens and pollutants. Because it requires special chemicals and equipment, mold remediation can be pricey—often between $3,000 and $10,000—but it’s important to the health and safety of anyone in the home. Once the ducts are clean, you can opt to have them sanitized for an additional $100 to $250 to prevent future mold growth.
Insects, rodents, and other vermin can sometimes make their homes in ductwork, leaving behind nests and droppings. Rodent elimination usually costs $172 to $600, but a larger infestation may come with a higher price tag.
Type of Ductwork
Fiberglass and foam board ducts don’t require any special care or tools, so they’re often among the least expensive to clean. Rigid metal ducts are also simple. Flexible ductwork requires special care and equipment to prevent tears, so it takes longer and costs more.
How Often Should You Clean Your Air Ducts?
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends air duct cleaning every three to five years. It’s important to periodically check the condition of your air ducts to see if they need maintenance. Signs that indicate the need for cleaning include the following:
- Dirt, debris, or matted dust inside the vent covers
- Dust buildup on return air registers
- Puffs of dust from air vents
We recommend you consult a certified HVAC professional to determine the appropriate cleaning schedule for your specific situation. One of the most opportune times to clean air ducts is when you install a new air conditioning unit.
Professional vs. DIY Air Duct Cleaning
Unfortunately, air duct cleaning isn’t a do-it-yourself (DIY) job. Even if you had the tools, you’d also need to know how to use them to avoid damaging your ductwork, which can be extremely costly to fix. Professionals use specialized tools and equipment like rotary brushes and HEPA-filter vacuums to clean air ducts. Pros can also clean the entire system—the air handlers, blowers, heat exchangers, plenums, drain pans, and more—without blowing any dust or contaminants out through the vents and into your home. The only downside is the price, but it’s well worth it for clean air in your home.
How to Make Air Duct Cleaning Cost-Effective
The best way to keep air duct cleaning prices down is to be diligent about HVAC maintenance and repair. Here are some other tips.
- Get multiple quotes: Getting prices from at least three local companies will help you get a better idea of average market price. Be wary of anyone who charges much more or much less than other companies.
- Watch out for scams: Some unethical air duct cleaning services may advertise their prices deceptively, so be sure to ask about additional whole-house or per-vent fees when getting your quote. Make sure that the service has substantial experience cleaning ductwork.
- Have air duct damage repaired quickly: Cracks or punctures can allow contaminants into the ductwork and will greatly reduce the system’s efficiency. Repairing the damage quickly will ensure it doesn’t get worse and lead to infestations.
- Replace air filters frequently: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for changing your heating and cooling systems’ filters. This usually means every three months.
- Save on utility bills: Clean, obstruction-free ducts mean a more efficient air conditioner or heater. This lowers your utility bills, leading to long-term energy savings.
The EPA recommends homeowners clean their air ducts as needed. If your annual HVAC inspection finds your air ducts contain debris, mold, mildew, pests, or other contaminants, it’s a good idea to have them professionally cleaned. The EPA recommends annual furnace inspection and dryer vent cleanings, which will be less expensive when folded into an entire HVAC system cleaning.
We also suggest you read our guide on the best air conditioner brands to ensure your HVAC system runs efficiently.
Air Duct Cleaning Cost FAQ
How often should you clean air ducts?
The EPA recommends cleaning your air ducts as needed—that is, only when they get dirty. Some HVAC companies translate this to mean every three to five years.
How do you know if your air ducts are dirty?
Here are some signs your air ducts are dirty and may require cleaning:Extreme dust buildup on grillesMold growing on or inside the grillesIncreased allergy symptomsHigh energy bills not due to other causesPoor airflow despite the HVAC system functioning properlySevere insect or rodent infestationMusty odors coming from vents
What are the health effects of dirty air ducts?
Although the EPA has not found evidence specifically supporting the health benefits of duct cleaning, it’s well-established that poor indoor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma. HVAC companies also claim that dirty ductwork can cause respiratory problems, sore throats, fatigue, and even fever. If you experience these symptoms, be sure to consult a doctor before calling an air duct cleaning company.
How much does air duct cleaning cost?
Air duct cleaning usually costs $450 to $1,000, depending on the system size and vent number.
Does cleaning air ducts really make a difference?
When you clean your air ducts, you remove contaminants such as dust, pet dander, pollen, and other particles that can circulate in the air and contribute to respiratory issues. Removing dust and debris from air ducts can improve airflow and help the HVAC system operate more efficiently.
What is a MERV rating?
A Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values report, or MERV rating, is a measurement scale designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to report the effectiveness of air filters. You’ll likely encounter MERV ratings when cleaning air ducts because air filter replacement is a major step in the cleaning process.