You might be thinking about getting your house’s air ducts cleaned after watching a TV commercial that flashes pictures of dusty, moldy, dirty vents. It’s definitely enough to make you wonder what’s lurking in your ductwork. But is it worth it?
Photo: Nataliia / Adobe Stock
Written by Dawn M. Smith
The average amount to clean your air ducts is $370
The typical cost to get air ducts cleaned is between $270 and $490. But, depending on the duct’s condition, fees can climb to $1,000.
Is Air Duct Cleaning Worth It?
When you search the pros and cons of hiring a local air duct cleaners, you’ll find conflicting advice.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that from their studies, standard duct cleaning does not prevent health problems or reduce dust levels in your home. But they do recommend professional cleaning if there is visible (and confirmed by a lab) mold growth inside the vents or within the heating and cooling system. Wet insulation is a typical cause of a mold outbreak.
They also recommend cleaning your ducts if they’re infested with rodents and insects or clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris that hampers your HVAC system and blows nasty particles through your home. If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, you might breathe better with clean ducts. You’ll have to think about your health situation to decide if you need air duct cleaning and if it's worth your money.
How Much Does It Cost To Clean Air Ducts?
Air duct cleaning costs an average of $400. But the price is affected by several factors like the size of the house, the total number of ducts, and how complicated the ducting system is. You could pay between $700 and $1,000 for a large home.
The good news is you only need to have your ductwork cleaned every two to seven years unless you notice an issue with pests, allergenic mold reactions, or have breathing problems that improve after a cleaning.
Correct Air Duct Cleaning Costs More
The air duct cleaning company you hire should spend between three and four hours inspecting and cleaning all system parts, including the heat exchanger, blower, drain pan, plenum, and coils. Be cautious of companies that finish fast, especially if you chose a discount special. They may only clean some of the vents for a low price.
Be sure to ask if they use outdoor vented equipment. Most top air duct cleaning companies use this equipment, so all of the debris they capture is vented and contained outside the house. Inferior techniques used by cost-cutting companies could worsen the situation by damaging the ductwork or setting off more dust and dirt into the air inside your home.
Don’t be surprised if your vetted professional suggests repairs or upgrades to your furnace or blower motor. It’s common to find other issues during the cleaning process.
Here’s an idea of the costs of common repairs.
Furnace repairs: $130–$500
AC repairs: $160–$550
What Factors Influence The Cost to Clean Your Air Ducts?
Don’t expect your costs to add up exactly like your neighbor's, even if they let you use their coupon. In addition to the size of the house and the number of vents, several other factors impact your final invoice.
The Number of Vents
Vent cleaning costs can be broken down in various ways by your service provider. If the contractor charges per vent, expect to pay about $25 to $50 per vent. Other companies charge a flat fee in addition to the cost per vent.
To total the average amount, count your vents, grab your calculator, and multiply by $35. This figure takes into account that each vent connects to the central system through each room and the amount of work it takes to clean.
The Appearance of Rodents
There’s not much you can do to avoid air duct cleaning fees if you have rodents. This is one scenario where the EPA says to seek help from professionals because droppings in the ductwork can cause breathing problems. Note, you’ll probably have to hire an exterminator first. Extermination costs run between $150 to $500. No doubt, it’s money well spent for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Vent and Duct Accessibility
If your home has hard-to-reach crawl spaces and attics to access your central HVAC system, you could pay more for the extra work involved. Your cleaning crew will let you know of their additional fees.
Mold and Mildew Removal
Another situation where the EPA recommends duct cleaning is after you’ve verified mold growth. Although mold removal in your ductwork costs more money, likely between $600 and $2,000, it could save you thousands if you stop the mold before it spreads further. Depending on the level of contamination, there’s a good chance your contractor will suggest a mold specialist do the cleanup if it's out of their realm of expertise.
Custom Designed Ducts
Cleaning and repairing custom ductwork is typically more expensive because the specific sizing is challenging to work with, and it’s harder to find replacement parts. After the initial inspection, your air duct cleaning contractor will tell you to either clean or replace the air ducts. If your pro has to work longer or hire a bigger crew to do custom work, expect to pay 25% to 30% more.