How Much Does Air Duct Cleaning Cost?
Air duct cleaning for most homes costs on average between $300 and $500.
Dear Angie: I’m looking to have my ac cleaning but I’ve seen prices vary from $99 to $800. I have not been given an explanation, that I believe, that describes the reason for the price difference. What are your thoughts on the reasons for the wide range of costs? — D.C., Landisville, Pennsylvania.Get quotes from up to
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Dear D.C.: My advice is simple: avoid those lowball offers. Companies offering a super low price on air duct cleaning might do more harm and no good. The fact of the matter is this: the average air duct cleaning for most homes costs between $300 and $500, with the price affected by factors like the size of the home, the number of ducts and their configuration. The average price for air duct cleaning is $35 per vent. So if your home has a total of 10 vents, the total would be $350.
Here’s the problem with those $99 specials (we’ve actually seen them advertised for as low as $49): What typically happens in those scenarios is the company offers this great price, usually in the form of a coupon, to get in the door. Once inside, they almost immediately find other problems — black mold is a common scare tactic used by unscrupulous contractors — or they try to upsell the homeowner on additional services. Those who fall prey to these air duct cleaning scams often pay upward of $600, even into the thousands.
Air duct cleaning scams can cost you
I’ve talked to many homeowners who have been victimized by these scams. Even the ones who don’t succumb to the high-pressure techniques are still frequently wronged, as these lowball companies often use inadequate tools and equipment — such as handheld vacuums and drills — to do the work. They quickly go through the house, vacuuming out a few vents, and are gone in less than 30 minutes. A legitimate air duct cleaning should take three to four hours to complete, according to reputable duct cleaning companies that I’ve spoken to.
The majority of good air duct cleaning companies use outdoor vented equipment, so all of the dust and debris they capture is vented and contained outside the home. A duct cleaner who uses inferior equipment can actually cause more harm by agitating and releasing more dust into your home, or worse, damaging your ductwork.
Look for air duct cleaners certified by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association. (Photo by Jennica Abrams)
Look for air duct cleaning red flags
If a company tells you that you have mold in your air ducts, that could be a red flag. I recommend sending that company on its way before any work is done and having a qualified mold-testing firm out to your home to verify that mold is truly present. If so, the tester can provide that information — and a protocol for removing the mold — to a separate mold remediation firm to avoid any conflicts.
Unfortunately, the air duct cleaning industry doesn’t have many regulations. Most states don’t have licensing requirements for air duct cleaners — Pennsylvania doesn’t — so it’s important to do your research and hire a company with a good reputation. Check online reviews and ask for referrals.
Ask potential air duct cleaning companies to provide you with a written checklist of exactly what they will do, and if you hire them, ask them to verify each task as they complete it. Qualified air duct cleaners will follow strict standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association and should be happy to show you their credentials.