Ashburn, VA

How much does air duct cleaning cost?
$300–$1,000

At an average cleaning cost of $35 per air duct, most homeowners pay around $350 to clean theirs, with homeowners with a larger-than-average home paying as much as $1,000 per heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. Get free estimates from duct cleaning pros near you.

How much does air duct cleaning cost?

Author: Daniel W.
Millions of people ask HomeGuide for cost estimates every year. We track the estimates they get from local companies, then we share those prices with you.

Despite the fact that you have a filter in your air conditioning (AC) unit, your system will still draw a range of particles that will build up in your ducts—including dust and normal household dirt—depending on the number of people in your home and the family lifestyle. A good practice is to have the air ducts cleaned every 2–5 years.

This pricing guide covers:

Air Duct Cleaning Cost

The average house in the US is 2,400 square feet and has an average of ten rooms or hallways to cool. At an average cleaning cost of $35 per air duct, most homeowners pay around $350 to clean theirs, with homeowners with a larger-than-average home paying as much as $1,000 per heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit.

National Average Cost $350
Minimum Cost $300
Maximum Cost $1,000
Average Range $350 to $550

Residential vs Commercial

If you need the air ducts cleaned in a commercial space, you could get away with a cheaper cleaning if the premises is between 800–1500 square feet, but if it is a larger premises, then because commercial ducts are typically larger, it could be a more expensive task.

HVAC Cleaning Costs

Ductwork cleaning consists of much more than just cleaning the ducts. It is equally important that the air conditioning unit and/or furnace be inspected and cleaned as well because maintaining all the components of your system is how you ensure your system is effective and efficient. Below are the average costs of cleaning various type of AC and furnace systems.

AC Cleaning Costs

Type of AC Average Cost Per Unit
Central Unit (ext) $6 - $12
Central Unit (int/ext) $30 - $60
Swamp Cooler (int) $30 - $100
Swamp Cooler (ext) $10 - $25
Wall Mount (ext) $5 - $25
Wall Mount (ext/int) $20 - $45
Window Mount $5 - $25
Window Mount (ext/int) $20 - $40

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Furnace Cleaning Costs

Type of Furnace Average Cost Per Unit
Wall $8 - $30
Floor $18 - $40
Forced Air $10 - $30
Overhead $20 - $45

To maximize air quality and energy efficiency you need to clean every component of your system. You want to clean the ductwork, drain pan, plenum, coils, the heat exchange, the blower, etc. Not only does having your entire system cleaned ensure that all build-up and debris is removed, but having your entire system cleaned will also uncover any hidden issues that may be lurking in your system.

Air Duct Cleaning

You can clean your ductwork every year, but if you do not clean the other AC and furnace components then you could be living with issues you are unaware of causing your system to be less efficient as it should be. For example, if the professional finds damage to your heat exchanger, you will want to get the furnace repaired to ensure it is working as effectively as possible. A furnace repair typically costs between $120 - $550 depending on where you live or what specific issues are uncovered in your system.

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Duct & Vent Cleaning Costs By Brand

Getting a professional inspection of your system is the how you get the most accurate cost for your ductwork or AC and furnace cleaning needs. Just keep in mind that how companies bill for their services can vary. Some companies will charge you based on individual services, while others will offer package pricing which will include ductwork cleaning and air conditioning and/or furnace cleaning as well. The following list of prices will help you get a better idea of what different professional ductwork cleaning services will cost.

Sears

# Of Vents Average Cost
8 $150 - $225
10 $250 - $300
20 $400 - $525
Extra Vent $20 - $25 per
Dryer Vent $130 - $200

Stanley Steemer

Service Average Cost
Average Home $420 - $495
Average Home + Dryer Vent $570 - $645
Two Furnace Home $990

Coit

Service Average Cost
10 Vents $397 - $420
Dryer Vent $100 - $185

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Dryer Vent Cleaning Cost

In addition to having your ductwork cleaned you may also want to consider inspecting or cleaning your dryer vent. A clogged dryer vent may not seem like much of a problem, but it certainly decreases energy efficiency and increases the risk of a fire. Professionally cleaning your dryer vent cost around $100-$150 on average, but it is money well spent when you consider the costs you incur for running less energy efficient and other the potential costs of a house fire.

Mold and Mildew Removal Cost

Mold and mildew are potential price increasers when it comes to ductwork cleaning services. Removing mold and/or mildew take extra time, special chemicals and sometimes even specialized equipment. Mildew removal costs approximately $0.08/sqft and that is on top of standard cleaning costs. This cost may increase if the mold or mildew is severe and a specialist is required to ensure the problem is properly managed.

Why get air ducts cleaned?

For most homeowners, the main reasons for getting the ducts cleaned are to remove the possible buildup of allergens and any other dirt reducing airflow. Generally, the thinking is that apart from having cleaner air that won’t trigger any allergic reactions, the increased airflow will result in energy savings—because your AC will be able to cool or heat the house quicker. It’s been said that HVAC air ducts can become a reservoir for microbial growth in dust.

However, according to the Division of Occupational Health and Safety at the National Institutes of Health, after two decades of researching the benefits of air duct cleaning regarding its impact on a) indoor air quality, b) the health of the occupants of a building, and c) the HVAC system performance as it relates to increased efficiency, there is still not enough evidence from the research to categorically state that there are significant benefits.

But... according to the Environmental Protection Agency and independent industrial hygienists, the circumstances in which cleaning HVAC air ducts does make a difference for the HVAC in either residential or commercial settings include the following:

  • Permanent or persistent water damage in ducts
  • Slime or microbial growth observed in ducts
  • Debris buildup in ducts that restrict airflow
  • Dust discharging from supply diffusers
  • Offensive odors originating in ductwork or HVAC components

Air Duct Cleaning

Typically, the main contributors to the need for duct cleaning include:

  1. Remodeling, renovation, or addition projects for residential or commercial buildings
  2. Smoke from cigars and/or cigarettes
  3. Mold detected or seen growing
  4. A water leak, or flooding that has caused damage to the building or the HVAC
  5. Rodents or other animals living in the ducts, or frequently traveling through them
  6. People who live or work in the building who have allergies or breathing related sensitivity conditions

A good contractor will take photos for you so you can see exactly what is going on in your ducts yourself.

“ I diagnose the issue and come up with a comprehensive and economical solution. I take detailed pictures or encourage clients to tag along and see for themselves.”

AC Pro in Phoenix, AZ

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Additional Duct Cleaning Costs

Removing mildew or mold

If the presence of moisture has caused mold to grow in your duct work, this will raise the price of cleaning by an average of $0.9 per sqft, in addition to the original quote.

Chemicals

There could also be costs associated with the use of certain chemicals. Many companies, use eco-friendly products.

Too much contamination

If the contamination is beyond what the cleaners are equipped to handle, they may suggest you consult a specialist, or even replace your ductwork.

Nonstandard ducts

Most air ducts are laid out in a fairly standard way in a home, or they have a pretty easy-to-understand structure. In larger homes, or homes where the ductwork was retrofitted to an attic space that required an unusual degree of creativity to make it work, some of the ducts are probably not easy to access. That extra layer of difficulty will cost more because it will add more time that the contractor will need to spend at your property. Commercial systems are often customized to fit the building they serve. They are almost guaranteed to feature added components and will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The more difficult the construction is to maneuver, the more you can expect to pay.

Cleaning an AC unit

This can cost anywhere from $7 to $100 depending on its location, size, and additional window units (there will be a cost to clean each one).

Cleaning a furnace

The range of potential costs is from $10 to $40.

Air duct cleaning should only be done after the source of contamination has been identified and effectively addressed, like a water leak resulting in mold, or else you run the risk the contamination will return. Ideally, air duct cleaning should only be a last resort after every other resolution has been tried.

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Air Duct Cleaning Process

Modern homes and buildings are now more airtight and less naturally ventilated than buildings constructed 15–20 or more years ago, which means almost all the air you breathe in a house—along with its mold spores, bacteria, dust, and pollen—has passed through the ductwork on its way to each room.

The loosening stage of the cleaning process will cause all the contamination to become airborne, so negative pressure must be used to prevent this extra rush of potential contamination from being distributed throughout the building.

Air Duct Cleaning process

According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), this is done “through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel down the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.”

Duct Cleaning Process of cleaning air ducts revolves around two core elements:

  1. The loosening of the contaminants, and
  2. The removal of the contaminants.

Loosening Contaminants

In nearly all cases, the contaminants will be either clinging to the sidewalls of your ductwork or distributed all along the lower wall.

Air washing – When the contaminants are not clinging to the walls of your ducts, your professional cleaners will use a process called air washing. The vents are sealed, and a collection vacuum will have an extraction point installed near the end of the line next to the HVAC.

One by one, the vent covers are removed, and a pipe is inserted and used to deliver compressed air to blow the contaminants through the ducts toward the vacuum at the extraction point. As with each process, small cameras and lights are attached to the end of the hose so the contractor can see what is being done, and to ensure there is nothing left in the ducts.

Direct contact –When the contaminants are stuck to the walls of the ducts due to static electricity or moisture, your contractor may decide to use direct contact—with a vacuum equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and a brush on the end of the hose—to remove the dust and dirt as it is being loosened.

-- or --

The contractor will use a rotary brush, a mechanical agitator which employs the use of a long hose with a brush attached to the end that rotates. It can operate in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions to target the more stubborn contamination.

Collecting Contaminants

The regulatory guidance around the air duct cleaning industry dictates that the exhaust from a negative pressure vacuum pass through a high-efficiency particulate air filter at the end of the process before the air can be allowed back into occupied spaces. That final stage makes sure that the air at the exhaust stage of filtration has been cleaned to the level of medical grade standards, which means 99% of airborne particulates down to the size of 0.1 micron have been removed from the air.

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and it works when air is passed through a tiny grid in the form of a fine mesh. This traps everything from pollen, dust mites, pet dander, tobacco smoke, and mold spores to airborne allergens that trigger allergy symptoms or asthma. Essentially, it will filter out virtually all inorganic particles as well as microorganisms.

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Duct Cleaning Safety Tips

The building’s occupants must be protected during and after air duct cleaning. Here is a list of ways to accomplish this effectively:

  1. Schedule the duct cleaning work to be done at a time when there is no one in the building, such as nights and weekends for commercial buildings, or during the day for residential ones.
  2. The cleaners should set up containment barriers for each room and use professional ventilation equipment, like a high‐efficiency filter “negative‐air” machine.
  3. Wherever possible, the cleaners should not use biocides or sealants. Despite the fact that there are some Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)‐registered biocides, they can still introduce certain health risks, like irritation to the eyes, nose, and skin. None of the biocides that are currently EPA‐registered are approved for use on fiberglass ductwork or on ducts lined with fiberglass.
  4. NADCA and EPA recommendations are for the replacement of any wet or moldy fiberglass duct materials.
  5. Install a filter over the supply and return grills to trap dust before the HVAC system is started up again after the cleaning work has been completed.

Contamination Prevention

Taking a serious approach to HVAC maintenance will go a long way to prevent the accumulation of any contamination in your air ducts. Be sure to visually inspect your ducts on a regular schedule each year and take care of replacing any filters, or cleaning coils, as indicated in a maintenance schedule from the manufacturer of your HVAC.

Also verify that air intakes are not located near possible contamination sources, and seal up any duct work during working hours if you have any remodeling or construction work going on.

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Hiring Your Air Duct Cleaner

As you look for companies to do the work, it will serve you best to only select a company that has met the requirements to become a member of the NADCA. Companies who are NADCA members will

  • Have general liability insurance coverage
  • Have a minimum of at least one member of staff at the company who is NADCA certified
  • Perform the duct cleaning in compliance with the NADCA code of ethics and to ACR—the NADCA standards

Always insist that contractors you’re considering show you proof of their current NADCA certification. When getting bids, look for their listing of the following in the quote to be sure you are to get a thorough cleaning: Air cleaner, air ducts, air filter, air plenum, blower motor and assembly, coils, drain pan, grills, heat exchanger, and registers.

After a representative has come out from a company to assess the air ducts, you will need to make sure you get a yes to each of the following questions for the contractor:

  1. Have you definitely detected contaminants in the ductwork?
  2. Do you know what the contaminants are and have a plan to control them?
  3. Is the quantity and type of contamination derived from testing or observation?
  4. Given the amount and location of contaminants, are they able to travel to the inhabited areas through the ducts?
  5. Will the cleaning completely decontaminate the ducts preventing further air pollution?
  6. Is cleaning the ducts still the best option versus replacing the existing ductwork?
  7. Have you considered other options, such as removal of affected ductwork?
  8. Will the cleaning be the most effective or only necessary path to pursue?

Many companies can give you a baseline cost, but in order to get to the final price for the work, they will have to take a few considerations into account, including how easy it is for their crew to gain access to the ducts, the overall length of the duct network within your home, and the extent of the buildup within the ducts. With this information, your contractor can then provide you with a more accurate quote for the work.

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