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.
Indoor air quality is important to how your home feels, and to your health. Let’s look at the factors that 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 per Square Foot
- Commercial vs. Residential Air Duct Cleaning
- Number of Air Vents and Furnaces
- Flat Rate vs. Tiered Service Levels
- When to Have Your HVAC System Cleaned
- Removing Mold, Pollen and Dust
- Details to Consider When Hiring a Duct Cleaning Company
- What Do I Need to Know About Licensing and Certification?
- How to Save Money On Air Duct Cleaning
What is Air Duct Cleaning?
A complete cleaning of your air conditioning system will include all of its parts, including its 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 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. Duct cleaning companies can also check and clean your dryer ducts at the same time.
Air Duct Cleaning Cost per Square Foot
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 additional square footage. The added cost covers employees’ extra time and use of equipment required for larger homes.
Twin Cities Furnace Cleaning in Maple Grove, 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 vs. Residential Air Duct Cleaning
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, and will likely cost more to clean.
Number of Air Vents and Furnaces
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.
Flat Rate vs. Tiered Service Levels
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.
Here’s an example of tiered pricing from Twin Cities Furnace Cleaning in Maple Grove, Minnesota:
- Standard cleaning: $99.95. Includes 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. Includes 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 is contacted, before-and-after photos are provided, and the 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.
When to Have Your HVAC System Cleaned
Homeowners decide to have their HVAC systems cleaned for a variety of reasons, including 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. 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.
Removing Mold, Pollen and 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 air quality.
Details to Consider When Hiring a Duct Cleaning Company
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.
What Do I Need to Know About Licensing and Certification?
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). A company affiliated with NADCA 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
You can check to see whether a contractor is NADCA certified by visiting www.nadca.com.
Depending on what state you live in, an HVAC contractor or cleaning company may require a state license as well.
How to Save Money On Air Duct Cleaning
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: