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.
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.
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|
|Average Range||$350 to $550|
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.
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.
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
|# Of Vents||Average Cost|
|8||$150 - $225|
|10||$250 - $300|
|20||$400 - $525|
|Extra Vent||$20 - $25 per|
|Dryer Vent||$130 - $200|
|Average Home||$420 - $495|
|Average Home + Dryer Vent||$570 - $645|
|Two Furnace Home||$990|
|10 Vents||$397 - $420|
|Dryer Vent||$100 - $185|
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 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.
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:
Typically, the main contributors to the need for duct cleaning include:
A good contractor will take photos for you so you can see exactly what is going on in your ducts yourself.
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.
There could also be costs associated with the use of certain chemicals. Many companies, use eco-friendly products.
If the contamination is beyond what the cleaners are equipped to handle, they may suggest you consult a specialist, or even replace your ductwork.
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.
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).
The range of potential costs is from $10 to $40.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The building’s occupants must be protected during and after air duct cleaning. Here is a list of ways to accomplish this effectively:
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.
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
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:
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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