Ducts are the hidden corridors that silently circulate freshly heated or cooled air throughout your home. When old ductwork gets leaky or obstructed, it may be time to repair or replace your ductwork system. That means paying a contractor for a big home improvement project.
Ductwork installation costs can run from $250 per duct all the way to $550 per duct, depending on factors such as material, location, and house size. Air duct repair or air duct cleaning is less expensive than full replacement, but it may not be enough. Your ductwork typically needs major replacement every 15 years.
Below, the This Old House Reviews Team explains what goes into air duct replacement costs and how much you can expect to pay for the service. We’ll also provide some saving tips, such as where to find the best deals.
Air Duct Replacement Cost
The national average cost to replace ductwork is $1,450–$8,000. These numbers can range anywhere from $250–$12,000 depending on the home’s size, system accessibility, and the material used.
On top of labor costs, many contractors charge additional fees to remove the existing system, install new vents and registers, seal system leaks, add insulation, or make sheet metal repairs.
Consider these other cost factors:
- Material: HVAC professionals often use aluminum, galvanized steel, or fiberglass ductwork. Generally, steel costs the most, and aluminum the least.
- Location: Hard-to-access home ductwork in a crawl space, attic, or ceiling may increase the project’s total cost.
- House size: The larger your home, the more expensive your air duct replacement project will be. Larger homes with multiple floors also cost more to service than single-story homes.
Cost by Material
The type of ductwork material you choose affects your overall cost.
|Duct Material||Features||Cost per Linear Foot|
|Aluminum||This flexible duct is easy to install, bend, cut, and shape, and makes a reliable choice for ductwork.||$2–$5|
|Fiberglass||Fiberglass fits well in tight, awkward spaces, but may break down quickly.||$4–$7|
|Galvanized steel||Pliable and corrosion-resistant, galvanized steel makes for long-lasting air ducts.||$4–$12|
|Polyester||Polyester is often the least-expensive material but has the shortest lifespan.||$1–$4|
|Flex duct non-insulated||Though durable and a great fit in tight spaces, flexible, non-insulated ductwork is prone to pest damage.||$1–$3|
|Flex duct insulated||Durable and lightweight, flexible insulated material may not last as long as steel or aluminum.||$2–$6|
Cost by Location
Where you need to install HVAC ductwork actually influences the project’s price.
|Location||Cost per 100 Linear Feet|
It costs between $1,000 and $2,900 to install ductwork in a mobile home. Small mobile homes may cost even less. The low price is due to the ductwork’s relatively easy access. However, a mobile home’s ductwork must be insulated carefully, which could increase your bottom line.
The crawl space is often cramped and difficult to access. Contractors may need special tools to work in this area. Consequently, ductwork in this area can run $2,200–$6,000. Cleaning the crawl space before your contractor comes can save you money.
An organized, easy-to-access attic is most contractors’ dream location for an HVAC ductwork job. The extra space—along with those handy, pull-down stairs—makes the work easier on the technicians. Because attics are not usually climate controlled, the ductwork may require heavy insulation, which increases overall project costs to $1,450–$4,650.
An unfinished basement is one of the cheapest places to replace ductwork, at a low of just $1,300. However, your costs could go up to $4,500 or more if your basement is essentially a finished lower floor.
Cutting into a finished wall to get at the existing ductwork is expensive. Not only do the technicians have to do the work, but they also have to repair the damaged drywall. If they need to cut extra holes for vents, expect to spend $4,000 or more.
Cost by House Size
Homes with greater square footage require more linear feet of ductwork. Here’s how that breaks down.
|House Size in Square Feet||Length of Ductwork in Linear Feet||Cost|
Additional Cost Considerations
Air duct replacement can include more than the material and installation costs. You may also pay for new insulation, vent installation, and mold remediation if necessary.
Depending on your location, a permit may be required to replace your home’s air ducts. This can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Vents are the outlets that circulate air throughout a home. You need enough vents to keep airflow equal throughout the house. Vent cost varies depending on its type and size. They average $200–$250 each, but some specialty vents can cost up to $500 each.
Insulation helps keep air at a constant temperature while in transit and prevents it from escaping into areas that can cause energy loss. Insulation is also essential to reduce noise coming from the HVAC system.
The cost of insulating your ductwork depends on material type and ductwork size, but expect basic insulation to add $1–$6 per linear foot to your total project. Costs may partly depend on whether you use fiberglass insulation, preformed duct insulation, or blown-in insulation.
Mold in the air ducts can lead to additional costs beyond the air duct replacement. If your home has a history of water damage or other moisture problems, you should test for mold prior to installing new ductwork.
Testing for mold usually costs $250–$700, while removal and remediation can cost $975–$4,250 or more. The cost of mold remediation depends on the infestation severity, how long it has been present, and how much work is required to address the issue.
Replacing air ducts is usually considered a major home improvement project, and may require permits to ensure the work is completed properly and meets local building codes. Permit cost varies by location.
Additional repairs may be needed before or after air duct installation—either to the actual duct work or other things related to the installation.
|Type of Repair||Cost|
|Drop ceiling installation||$1,350–$2,200|
DIY vs. Professional Air Duct Replacement
You can hire a professional to replace your air ducts or decide to go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route. The cost of each approach depends on your air duct’s type and size and the job’s complexity. Both options have pros and cons. Do your research and consider all factors before deciding which is best for your home.
Professional Air Duct Replacement
If you decide to hire a professional for your air duct replacement project, it’s important to choose an experienced contractor who is qualified and certified. A professional air duct replacement service should include the following:
- Evaluation of your existing air ducts, including an inspection of their condition and the material types used.
- Removal of any existing materials, including insulation, vents, and old ductwork.
- Installation of new ducts, along with new vents and insulation where needed.
Using a professional ensures that the job will be done right, saving you time and money in the long run. Professional installation can also help reduce energy costs by ensuring that the air duct system is properly sealed and insulated.
The downside of hiring a professional is the cost. Professional services can range anywhere from $17.50 to nearly $32 per linear foot, depending on the job’s complexity and the amount of material being replaced. Get quotes from multiple contractors to ensure you’re getting the best price.
DIY Air Duct Replacement
In many states, it’s illegal to replace your air ducts unless you’re an HVAC contractor with the proper license.
If you are licensed for the job, replacing air ducts yourself is a great way to save money—as long as you have the proper tools and knowledge. Replacing air ducts is a complex and potentially dangerous job, so it’s best to hire somebody if you’re not confident in your abilities.
To replace air ducts yourself, you’ll need sheet metal, hangers and straps, vent boots, duct sealant, insulation, and duct tape. You’ll also need basic tools such as a saw, hammer, drill, screwdriver, and level. You may also need specialized tools depending on the type of ducts being replaced.
The biggest disadvantage of replacing air ducts yourself is that it’s a labor-intensive and difficult task. Additionally, a job that’s done improperly can cause air leaks, air pressure issues, or even health risks from mold growth or poor insulation.
If you choose to replace the air ducts yourself it’s critical to research the process thoroughly and have a good understanding of what you’re doing before getting started.
How To Hire a Professional
Finding a reliable professional to replace your air ducts is essential. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision:
- Research contractors in your area to find one that is certified and experienced.
- Get multiple quotes from different companies before making a decision.
- Read online reviews and ask friends and family for referrals.
- Make sure that the contractor you choose has the right licenses and insurance.
- Ask questions to get a better understanding of the project’s scope, timeline, and required materials.
- Make sure the contractor provides an estimate before starting the project and confirm the timeline and cost before proceeding.
- Consider signing a contract to protect yourself from any potential issues or disagreements.
Replacing your air ducts is a great way to improve indoor air quality and lower utility bills. Air duct replacement cost depends on factors such as location, home size, and building material. Additional factors, such as installing vents or insulation, can also add to the bottom line. Depending on the job’s scope, replacing air ducts may require permits and repairs that can boost the overall cost.
If you’re properly qualified and hold a contractor’s license, air duct replacement can be done as a DIY project. Otherwise, you need to hire a professional. To save money, you’ll want to compare estimates from several experienced, licensed contractors. Replacing air ducts is worth the investment, as it can improve your home’s air quality and energy efficiency.
FAQ About Air Duct Replacement
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