The average cost to replace ductwork is $1,947. This includes removing and replacing ducts and vents. However, the cost of the project will vary depending on where you live, how much professionals near you are charging and the size of the job.
Ductwork replacement and installation costs:
Install ducts and vents
Remove existing ducts and vents
Replace existing ducts or vents
When budgeting for a ductwork replacement project, the best approach is to look at the different price factors involved in your project and to ask for price quotes from duct and vent installers near you. The following cost guide will walk you through the different factors that might influence your bill in the end.
What’s in this cost guide?
The cost to install ductwork for AC and ventilation systems is often measured and determined by linear foot. Ductwork installation could cost $3 to $19 per linear foot on average, including materials and labor.
Non-insulated, 3”-12” diameter
$3-$10 per linear foot
Insulated, 3”-12” diameter
$4-$19 per linear foot
But for more accurate pricing, pull quotes from local HVAC contractors or technicians.
Flexible non-metallic ducting typically costs around $1 to $2 per linear foot. Flexible ducts are tube-shaped and typically contain a wire coil, fiberglass insulation and inner plastic lining. It’s cost-effective, easy to install and can be moved around easily in different angles and tight turns. Installers often prefer it because it bends and can more easily snake through attics and flooring.
Another common type of ductwork is sheet metal. This style is a rigid duct that is not flexible and is usually made of galvanized metal or aluminum. Both materials are durable and can resist mold growth. However, it may be harder to work with metal ductwork and it requires the exterior to be insulated with a fiberglass liner.
Aluminum alloy ductwork cost
Galvanized steel ductwork cost
Aluminum and galvanized steel each has its own unique set of pros and cons. Aluminum is a basic metal and offers a hard, smooth surface. It’s lightweight and easy to shape. Galvanized steel is created through a process of dipping carbon steel into zinc. The end result is extremely durable and strong ductwork. Additionally, galvanized steel is rust- and corrosion-resistant.
Made out of fiberglass bonded with resin, fiberboard ducts are typically one of the most affordable options. Its exterior surface is covered with a reinforced foil laminate and it has inherent insulation qualities. Although you can use this material for your heating and cooling ducts, it’s not typically used for ventilation ducts in humid climates.
While the above information explained how certain materials can impact the total cost of your ductwork replacement, there are other considerations to keep in mind. Each of the following sections helps explain how your HVAC technician or duct installer might calculate the total cost.
HVAC systems come equipped with a variety of accessories. Air extractors, dampers, mixing boxes and other accessories might also need to be replaced or repaired at the same time as your ductwork. The pro who replaces your air ducts might also recommend replacing your forced air unit and other HVAC components — especially if they’re old.
Removal costs for existing ductwork
The cost to remove existing ductwork is never free — it costs most homeowners $1,242, on average. This service can either be charged as a separate line item or the cost can be built into the overall estimate. Total costs will be based on the labor involved to remove and dispose of the existing ductwork.
Wall, floor or ceiling repairs
Air duct replacement costs can also be affected by any additional repairs that you might need for the area. Repairing insulation in the area and patching up floors, walls or the ceiling might raise the total cost of your project. However, if it’s easy to access your air ducts, the pro might be able to complete the job without ripping into your wall or ceiling.
Mold remediation prices
Indoor air quality is extremely important to your health and well-being. Mold growth can pose a serious risk to the quality of your home’s air. If you have a mold problem that impacted your old air ducts and other areas of your house, you might also need to hire a mold remediation company.
The material grade of the sheet metal you choose will be factored into your total costs. Additionally, the style of ductwork you opt for will play a role in the bill.
Number of ducts
How many sheet metal ducts or flexible ductwork your system requires will also play a role how much you pay. Not only will you be looking at a higher cost in materials, but you’ll also be paying for more labor.
From small air conditioning systems to full-house HVAC set-ups, your home’s size and how far ductwork needs to be run will factor into the project’s cost. Creating the right airflow is key to optimizing any HVAC system, which is why it's imperative an ample ductwork system is installed throughout your house.
Accessibility to the ductwork will also determine how much a company chooses to charge you. For example, can the contractor walk inside of the area where the ductwork is? Or will they have to crouch or even crawl on their stomach?
Additionally, the location of the ductwork is a cost factor. Is the ductwork located in the attic or the crawlspace? Attic ductwork is usually more accessible and easier to work on.
Check with a local pro and your city to find out if permit fees apply where you live.
Your ductwork is responsible for ensuring your heating and/or cooling system can deliver conditioned air throughout your home. In some cases, the ductwork no longer operates as needed, requiring replacement. In other situations, it might be necessary to insulate or seal the ducts.
It’s critical to recognize the signs that indicate it’s time to replace this critical component of your heating and cooling system versus opting for simple air duct repair. The sooner you notice the signs, the sooner you can start saving and budgeting for this project.
Here are a few signs that indicate you should contact a pro to find if you need to replace, repair or perhaps clean your air ducts:
- There’s a sudden change in temperatures and airflows in certain rooms, and your heating system or air conditioner isn't changing the temperature of your home or office as you would expect.
- You suspect you have substantial mold or mildew in your HVAC ducts.
- Your ductwork system hasn’t been maintained and your home is very old.
- There’s unexplainable dirt or dust in your home, which may indicate a leak.
- Your HVAC unit has a shorter lifespan than expected.
If you have central heating and/or air conditioning in your home, the warm or cool air is delivered to each room through a system of connected ducts and vents. The air ducts for a central HVAC system are typically located above a home in the attic or upper crawl space, or underneath a home in the space between the foundation and the floor, so you don't see them unless you have cause to replace them.
If there are holes or faulty ductwork, your HVAC unit has to work overtime to compensate. This can cause the unit to burn out too soon or operate poorly. If your home does not have an HVAC system and you plan to add one, you will need to have new ducts installed.
When it comes to mold, the Environmental Protection Agency states, "If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced."
Whether you’ve noticed your air conditioner is no longer pumping cold air to every room, you’re worried your ducts are leaky or you're installing a new HVAC system, contact a pro near you for an on-site estimate.
Replacing your air ducts can be well worth the cost for many reasons. For example, expertly installed ducts can help ensure that your home and all of your rooms are evenly heated and cooled.
Additionally, new ductwork that’s properly sealed can help improve the quality of air in your home — providing relief to those who have allergies or asthma. And you might even see lower utility bills if you seal and fix any leaks in your ducts.
After you install and replace your ducts, keep your HVAC air filter clean. When your air filter is clogged with dust and dirt, it can lead to future issues within your ducts and vents and impact your home's air quality.
Also, make sure your condensate drain pan (under your air conditioning unit) isn't collecting sitting water. This flat pan catches the water underneath your unit as it heads to drain.
Related content: The best HVAC maintenance tips.
Hiring an air duct replacement professional doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process. By following a few quick tips, you can hire the right pro for your needs.
Start by creating a list of questions for a company or contractor you might hire. This list might include questions about costs, material options, timelines for the project and further information about any additional HVAC-related repairs you might need.
Pros might have a few questions for you. For example, they will need to know how many air ducts there are in your home, how long the ducts run and what existing materials are being utilized. You might not have all this information readily available. In this case, an on-site estimate is the best way to go.
Gather free estimates and second opinions
Get at least three free estimates before hiring anyone. Additionally, ask for a second opinion. If you can’t get a second opinion, read reviews from past customers. Check to make sure the pro you’re considering has positive feedback regarding their professionalism, quality of work and responsiveness.
Check credentials and warranties
Replacing ductwork can be a big expense, so make sure the pro you hire has the right credentials. Ask if the pro is properly licensed and insured, and if they can provide a warranty.
Consider other services
You might also want to hire a qualified professional who can provide additional services while there. For example, if your air conditioner needs to be tuned, why not choose an HVAC contractor who can tackle both jobs in one trip, potentially cutting down on costs?
Or, perhaps you are in a home that doesn’t have a working HVAC system. In this case, it might be worth pricing out total HVAC installation costs.
If you’re ready to hire someone to install new ductwork in your home so you can enjoy comfortable temperatures and better air quality, your next steps are simple.
First, conduct a quick search for local duct replacement services. Next, reach out to a few companies and ask for estimates. After that, schedule an onsite visit to confirm you do need to replace your ducts and work with the pro to get it done as soon as possible.
How often should you replace ductwork?
Ultimately, how often you replace your air ducts depends on how well your ductwork is performing and how the materials are holding up. For homes where the air is being lost in the attic or crawl spaces, it might be necessary to get a replacement air duct.
How long does it take to replace ductwork?
The length of time it will take to replace your home’s ductwork will have a lot to do with how large your central air system’s ductwork is.
An HVAC contractor should thoroughly explain how the work will be performed and how long it will take. Additionally, you should expect the contractor to clean up and dispose of any materials and not leave a mess in the home, attic or crawlspace where the work is being performed.
Can I replace my own ductwork?
Replacing your ductwork is not a simple DIY task — it’s a big job that requires expertise and skill. If you haven’t been properly trained, consider hiring a pro who can take this project off your hands.
Related content: How much does central air conditioning repair cost?
Additional source: 2020 National Repair and Remodeling Estimator