The national average cost for air duct cleaning ranges from $90–$250. Many companies offer tiered pricing to help you choose what you need, or a flat rate for a specific group of services.
If you own a home or a business, you will eventually need to hire a professional duct cleaning service to clean out the heating, cooling, dryer, and exhaust vents and ducts. Technicians at cleaning companies that specialize in air duct cleaning are equipped to work with any type of duct, including rigid sheet metal, flexible nonmetallic material, fiberglass, and other materials. Professional duct cleaning services take care of air ducts in homes, commercial spaces, offices, or multiunit buildings of any size or number of stories.
Clean air ducts and good indoor air quality are important to how your home feels, and to your health. Before you hire a service to clean your ducts, get an idea of what factors affect the cost of air duct cleaning, what's involved in a cleaning service, what you need to know when hiring a cleaning company, and how you can save money.
What's in this cost guide?
- What is air duct cleaning?
- Air duct cleaning cost factors
- When to have your HVAC system cleaned
- Removing mold, pollen, and dust
- How to hire a duct cleaning company
- Licensing and certification
- How to save money on air duct cleaning
Air duct cleaning is a complete cleaning of your air conditioning system and all of its parts. This includes the air ducts, coils, drain pan, registers, grills, air plenum (the space above dropped ceiling tiles), heat exchanger, air filter, air cleaner, and the blower and motor assembly. A proper cleaning of all these component parts consists of two key steps: breaking contaminants (like dust, dander, and other debris) loose, and collecting those contaminants.
A cleaning service will loosen contaminants from within your air conditioning system by using agitation devices like brushes, air whips, and compressed air nozzles or “skipper balls." The cleaning service will usually attach a vacuum to your HVAC system to create continuous negative pressure during the cleaning process, so that any contaminants loosened during the cleaning are pulled out of the system and your home.
Although it's not an exciting task, getting your ducts cleaned is an important part of home maintenance. It can fix clogged ducts, remove allergens, and improve the overall air quality on your home.
Duct cleaning companies can also check and clean your dryer ducts at the same time.
Several factors impact air duct cleaning costs, including the square footage of your home or office, whether it's a commercial or residential building, and the number of vents and furnaces present. Companies generally charge for duct cleaning based on an hourly rate or tiered service levels.
The larger the home, the higher the cost for air duct cleaning. Some companies offer a set price up to a certain square footage, and charge an extra fee for any additional square feet. The added cost covers employees' extra time and use of equipment required for larger homes.
A Thumbtack pro in Maplegrove, Minnesota offers three cleaning options up to 2,500 square feet. For homes larger than 2,500 square feet, they charge the following additional fees:
- Each additional 500 square feet for a standard or advanced cleaning: $20
- Each additional 500 square feet for an ultimate cleaning: $40
Commercial air duct cleaning typically costs more than residential because furnace and air conditioning systems operate at a higher rate, with more airborne particles than most residential homes. Costs are based on the number of forced-air components in the commercial space, square footage, and any special sanitization required.
If you have a business that generates a lot of dust or dirt, or if you run a restaurant that fries food in oil, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system will be dirtier than a residential air duct system. This makes duct cleaning more costly.
Some companies charge by the vent or by the air duct, but it is more common to charge by the furnace or air conditioning unit. HVAC systems in older buildings or homes that have been substantially remodeled might be difficult for a cleaning service to access, which could increase the cost of the cleaning.
Some older homes have more than one furnace, which increases the cost of air duct cleaning. Each furnace has its own set of air ducts, so professionals must hook into two different systems and clean the ducts for each. The added time and use of equipment and tools result in a higher cost.
Many companies charge a flat rate for air duct cleaning and will outline what services are included in their rate. Some companies will charge a flat rate up to a certain amount of square feet (such as 2,500 square feet), then $20 to $40 for each additional 500 square feet depending on the service level you've chosen. Other companies offer tiered pricing based on the extent of the services they provide.
To help you estimate how much it will cost you to clean air ducts, here's an example of tiered pricing from Twin Cities Furnace Cleaning:
|Service||Price||What it includes|
|Standard cleaning||$99.95||Truck-mounted industrial vacuums, high-pressure air wands, and air snakes to clean all supply and return vents, branch lines, and main trunk lines.|
|Advanced cleaning||$199.95||Includes standard cleaning services, plus rotobrush or viper clean sweep in the main trunk lines.|
|Ultimate cleaning||$399.95||Advanced cleaning, plus insertion of a viper microline into all vents to force debris down the branch lines and into the main trunk lines, to be handled by the viper clean sweep. All ductwork surface contacted, before-and-after photos provided, and furnace is cleaned.|
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends being skeptical of services that offer “whole house air duct cleaning," which could be a bait-and-switch scheme to offer you a low flat rate and then charge for unneeded services. NADCA warns that these “blow-and-go" scams have also defrauded homeowners by telling them they needed expensive mold removal when they really didn't.
Homeowners should clean their HVAC systems after water contamination or water damage to the home, after renovations or remodeling, or before occupying a new home. Existing homeowners might hire an HVAC cleaning service if there are smokers or pets that shed in the household, or if residents in the home have allergies or asthma who are sensitive to poor air quality.
NADCA recommends getting your air ducts cleaned every three to five years, or every two to three years in regions where homeowners use their air conditioning and heater for many months of the year.
Another reason why you might hire an HVAC company to clean your air ducts is if you suspect mold, pollen, or high levels of dust. Mold can grow and infest an air conditioning system when pollen and dust combine with humidity in the HVAC ductwork or settle in the drain pans. When a mold inspector detects mold in your home, a duct cleaning service provider might apply antimicrobial chemicals to control microbial contamination.
Certified HVAC technicians or contractors or will only use chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After cleaning, you should notice an improvement in the overall indoor air quality.
Although mold is a real health concern, be skeptical of companies that report finding mold in your ducts and encourage you to purchase mold elimination services from them. If you believe mold could be in your air ducts, get a separate opinion from an independent mold removal specialist before contracting any additional work.
HVAC cleaning technicians may need to cut access holes into your existing ductwork in order to reach inside with cleaning tools. Before scheduling any work, confirm what is needed to gain access for cleaning.
Visually inspect your HVAC system with a flashlight before and after the cleaning.
It's a good idea to confirm that your HVAC cleaning service or HVAC contractor is certified by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) since a company affiliated with them will:
- Have at least one Air Systems Cleaning Specialist on staff certified by NADCA
- Maintain a general liability insurance policy
- Agree to clean according to the NADCA standard of Assessment, Cleaning and Restoration of HVAC systems (ACR)
- Comply with NADCA's code of ethics
- Maintain their accreditation by attending continuing education courses every year
Before you hire a contractor, check to see whether a contractor is NADCA certified on their website.
Depending on what state you live in, an HVAC contractor or cleaning company may require a state license as well.
Many air duct cleaning companies offer one-time specials to bring in new customers. Read the fine print carefully to confirm what services will be provided, and make sure the equipment used by the company is professional — such as vacuum-equipped vans and negative air machines — and that the trapping of the dust will not take place inside your home.
Here are examples of specials for overall air duct cleaning and add-ons to larger services from a few Thumbtack pros:
- Dryer vent cleaning in Denver, Colorado: $65 with air duct cleaning
- Air conditioning tuneup in Denver, Colorado: $75 with air duct cleaning
- Air duct cleaning of unlimited vents in Elk Grove Village, Illinois: $289
Whether you want to improve the airflow in your cooling system, or remove allergens from your home, getting your air ducts cleaned by a professional is a worthwhile investment for your home's cleanliness and air quality. Find a professional duct cleaner near you on Thumbtack.