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How Much Should Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

By Dave Trosdahl on August 25th, 2007

With air duct cleaning advertisments ranging in price from $88 – $450 – $1,000, it is quite difficult to guess who is right when it comes to the true cost of air duct cleaning. In the 1997 article entitled; “Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?” The EPA says; ‘These services typically — but not always — range in cost from $450 to $1,000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climatic region, and level of contamination.‘, with the BBB quoting them verbatim. But, how accurate are those 10 year old prices now that air duct cleaning has become highly competitive?

So, How Much Should Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

Well, that’s like asking; ‘how much should carpet cleaning cost?’, or window cleaning, or having new brakes installed on your car. Having said that, here are a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself and/or the air duct cleaning technician:

  1. Does the Advertised Price Include Cleaning ALL the Air Ducts?
    Read the ad carefully. If it only includes the first 10 vents, then count how many you have. Also, there is generally a hot and cold air return (main trunk lines), are both included in the price? If not, ask how much to clean the other one. Remember, the cold air return is usually the dirtiest.
  2. Is a Having a Video Camera Inserted into Your Air Ducts Worth the Additional Cost?
    For some the answer is yes, others feel it is over-kill or even a gimmick.
  3. Is Furnace Cleaning Included in the Price.
    If there was no mention of cleaning the furnace in the ad, assume it is not included. Ask how much more it will cost you to have this cleaned. Manufacturers recommend an annual cleaning, and most professionals agree that not cleaning the furnace may recontaminate your clean air ducts.
  4. Is Certification by a “For-Profit” Association Necessary?
    You might find peace of mind in a nationally certified air duct cleaner, but be prepared to pay a higher price. The membership to these organizations is very expensive. Ultimately, someone has to pay for it. If you have discovered a mold problem, this might give you the added security you are looking for. Perhaps more importantly, is that the company is a licensed heating and cooling contractor.
  5. Is the Air Duct Cleaning Company Also a Licensed & Insured Heating and Cooling Contractor?
    This should be very important to anyone searching for the very best air duct cleaner or furnace cleaner.  Heating and cooling contractors generally charge less because it is a service they provide to current and prospective customers. They already have most of the equipment and skills and don’t need to charge as much money per job.
  6. DID THERE REFERENCES CHECK OUT?
    This is crucial. Always check references before hiring any professional, whether for your home, car, or anything else. What do past customers say about them? Would they use their services again? Did the quoted price match the final bill?

Lastly, regarding duct cleaning cost, keep in mind they are only air ducts. You don’t eat or sleep on them and you never see them. Cleaning them to near-new condition might be excessive unless you have a mold problem or a medical reason for doing so. If you are like most people, you simply want the dust and dirt out of your air duct system. On the other hand, if you do require a more thorough cleaning, can your air duct cleaner provide that and what does their best type of air duct cleaning cost?

If you have done your homework, and their references have checked out, you should be able to pay $99 or thereabouts, to have ALL the air ducts in your home cleaned. If you decide to go with a rotary brush styled method, expect to pay a little more.

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22 comments

  1. Austin says:

    How can an air duct cleaning actually cost less than 200.00 dollars given the time it takes and everything else? This site makes me wonder how someone can actually do this job correctly for just $99. I have had many quotes and this is no where near the price. I was told that to correctly have he ducts cleaned that everything in the air system needed cleaned and had to be done by a licensed hvac contractor….so how are you able to do it correctly for $99….or is this a bait n switch.

    March 13th, 2008 at 8:07 pm

  2. Dave Trosdahl says:

    The price is most definitely correct! – We hear concerns like yours all the time. First you need to decide what level of clean you want. 100% clean will cost you serious money (think camera, 4 hours and $400+++). If you just want the ducts thoroughly cleaned then $99 is the price. For $99 ALL your duct work gets thoroughly cleaned. If a camera was sent through the ducts, yes some residue may or may not remain. For most homeowners that’s good enough. For others, they may feel more comfortable having the camera crew out and spend lots of time and money on air duct cleaning. We find that most of our customers don’t want to spend so much time and money on a project like duct cleaning. They tell us all the time that they just want the “crud” out of the ducts. What (if anything) remains in the duct work certainly won’t be blowing around their house anymore. – Thanks for your interest and consideration, good luck on your decision.

    March 13th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

  3. Dave Trosdahl says:

    P.S. To answer your question, this is not a bait-n-switch. Remember, with a bait-and-switch, the advertised product/service doesn’t exist (like a car dealer advertising a stripped down car, which isn’t available). We provide the $99 service all day long.

    March 13th, 2008 at 11:45 pm

  4. Duct Cleaning Pros Cons says:

    [...] Duct Cleaning – Beware of any company offering $10 off, or $50 off. What is the real duct cleaning cost? Ask $10 off of what [...]

    June 18th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  5. Dustees says:

    i had my ducts cleaned. i was charged $500. I was told that to clean my other 3 main lines would cost an additional $85 each. Then with sanitizing. And the $40 charge for the dryer vent cleaning. I think I have been had. What do you think?

    August 15th, 2011 at 11:17 am

  6. All Pro Services says:

    We charge $25 per line

    September 5th, 2011 at 11:29 pm

  7. admin says:

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there who are of the opinion that they need to make a whole days revenue from just one or two appointments. I don’t think you have been scammed, it just sounds like they made a big production out of a rather simple job and weren’t afraid to charge you for it. You’ll know for next time, right? :/

    September 13th, 2011 at 6:12 am

  8. HOWARD SCHWARTZ says:

    We clean ducts with a rotobrush for a flat rate, No bait and switch or low ball offers just to get in the house to sell more. We include the dryer vent. Ask yourself how can anyone send a man truck and machine to your house for $99? They cant.

    November 18th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  9. Hugo says:

    I wonder what kind a work people do charging $99.00 for air duct cleaning.I only charge $250.00,but takes me some where 3 to 4 hours to clean a house up to 10 vents,2 air returns,furnace,replace filters,sanitazin,cleaning dryer vent.Rotobrush equipment.

    December 4th, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  10. erin says:

    I don’t know who/how you could clean an entire sysytem for $99! You obv. Are not doing a thorough job! Look up what NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaning Assoc.) Says about the lenght of time a thorough air duct cleaning job should take, no way you could do what needs to be done for $99! Removing the registers & cleaning the “boot” takes about 60mins! There is more to cleaning air ducts than sticking a vacuuat in the sysytem…

    December 19th, 2011 at 7:12 am

  11. Jianmin says:

    15 vents, give the cost

    December 29th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

  12. Amber says:

    Our daughter has extreme allergies to pet dander along with dust and anything foreign airborne. We are getting ready to move into a home where a cat has been living. Do you think air duct cleaning will help cut down on leftover pet dander? Thanks!

    January 17th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

  13. stressed says:

    I just got a quote from one duct cleaning company which was over $2,000 claiming that I have mold in my furnace filter. Thus, need to disinfect and kil the mold residue. Another company that I search through the internet gave me a quote asking for a square footage of the house and quoted close to $1,000. I have two furnaces for the old and the new addition so they both charged double. My house is about 3400 square feet so did I get a reasonable quote or am I being scammed. I was thinking that the second quote was a deal so I booked it but now I am not so sure if I have made the right choice. Please advise.

    May 11th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

  14. admin says:

    Sorry for the late reply on this. I assume you have had your ductwork cleaned by now. Mold remediation is much different than the usual duct cleaning. Fortunately, it is not very common to find mold in the air ducts and furnace because of the heat. While it can and will happen, the good news is that it’s not that common. Unfortunately for you though, it sounds like you do have mold and either one of those prices sound reasonable depending on the severity and location of the mold. I wish we could advise you more in regards to this, but you will need to do your own research on it. Please respond and let us know how the lesser priced company worked out for you.

    June 3rd, 2012 at 7:25 pm

  15. admin says:

    Yes I do. It’s all about source removal. If she is allergic to pet dander, your best bet would be to simply have it removed.

    June 3rd, 2012 at 7:28 pm

  16. admin says:

    $99 for the air sweep, $189 for the rotary brush method.

    June 3rd, 2012 at 7:29 pm

  17. admin says:

    Over the years we have received many comments like the one from Erin. Usually, they are very angry and condemning in nature. Again to reiterate, we don’t believe the EPA (with it’s 15yr old study) nor NADCA (with their best interest in keeping their association fees alive) to be the true answer in which method is best for each homeowner. While we do agree their method is superior, we feel that this method is so expensive and so unnecessary that most homeowners would not only find it too expensive, but too all-encompassing for the needs of most. Yes, there are exceptions, like; if you have mold, sever allergies, or other respiratory complications, then the NADCA method would be advisable, even by us.

    The problem is, if you don’t have any of those complications, the NADCA people don’t offer any other alternatives. You can’t get them to agree that in such cases, a $400 – $1000 duct cleaning would be over-kill. They are programmed to slam anyone who thinks outside the box they have created. If you think about it, they can’t offer the alternative. Their equipment is designed to only clean one-way and their days are scheduled to make all their money in 2 jobs/day. NADCA, with the help of the EPA has created this monster which says you only have one choice – remove EVERY dust particle, no matter the cost.

    Imagine if there was a carpet cleaning association which continually slammed the $100 bissel cleaners you can buy at Wal-Mart. Let’s face it, everyone knows that the pros will do a better job, but you could buy 3 of the Bissell machines for the cost of a typical carpet cleaning. Chances are, if you are like most homeowners, you use the Bissell machine for as long as you can before you call in the pros, right? The same is true with duct cleaning, except IT’S NOT FABRIC – IT’S METAL!

    Metal is much easier to clean than carpet, so yes we can do a good job and still keep the cost under $100. double that price, and you can have a great job, using a rotary brush. We’re happy at that rate, so are our well-trained techs and you are too.

    June 3rd, 2012 at 7:46 pm

  18. Sam says:

    I bought a groupon for ac blower and 10 vent cleaning for $120. It’s for an old house I am moving to. When I called to schedule the cleaning, the company tried selling me additional services for a more thorough cleaning and said without the additional svcs it’s not worth getting the vents and blower cleaned because “as soon as the ac is turned on, the vents and blower will get dirty again”. I told them that a new ac was just installed and they said then the blower doesn’t need to be cleaned but ur vents and return will need to. What do you all think? Is it worth getting the vents and return cleaned and do I need to if a new ac was just installed?

    June 7th, 2012 at 12:11 am

  19. Tony says:

    $99 is more than fair. I just had my ducts cleaned for $89. It took him less than two hours. By the math, that is almost $50 an hour! Sounds fair to me, eh? If you’re paying more than $100, you deserve to get ripped off!

    August 10th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  20. admin says:

    If you are brushing the ductwork, then yeah, $250 is in the ball park. In the Minneapolis metro area the cost is $189, but it might be a little higher in Portland, OR.

    September 4th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

  21. admin says:

    They can, and we do. :) Carpet cleaning techs do it all the time, sometimes for even less. Of course they hope the customer will add on services they suggest, but every day we do $99 jobs and the customer doesn’t want or need anything else. It’s a numbers game. Further mrre, it’s not bait and switch when the company is willing to do the job for $99. You may want to re-think your approach. Rather than tying to make all your money from one customer, why not give them what they want?

    September 4th, 2012 at 10:54 pm

  22. Angelic Aire says:

    For the $1,000 jobs, we do offer them. But this is typically what you are getting:

    Supplies, Returns, Mains, Blower Motor, AC Coil, Condenser, Humidifier, Permanent Furnace Filter, Ultraviolet Air Purifier, Sanitizer, Mildicide, Dryer Vent and a Lifetime Warranty Program that makes it much cheaper the second, third, fourth time around.

    And we send 2 man crews that are usually there for 5-6 hrs or more, depending on the condition.

    No way you are getting that done for $99. Not even worth the $4 a gallon gas to lug the equipment there. If they say it’s $99, they are doing a piss poor job in less than an hour or asking a LOT more once in the house.

    November 21st, 2012 at 9:55 am

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