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Cleaning Your Air Ducts: How Much Does it Cost?

According to the HomeAdvisor, the average cost for professional duct cleaning in 2016 was about $350, with an approximate range between $200 and $700. Depending on the size of your house, the number of ducts, and the configuration of your system, cleaning your ducts may cost you more than the average.

Beware the Bargain Offers

Because air duct cleaning is a largely unregulated field, it is attractive to scammers. These fly-by-night operations usually attract customers by advertising a full-house duct cleaning for $99 or even $49.

If a business is offering such prices, they are making money in one of two ways (and possibly both). First, the “special” offer is a chance to get inside your house. Once they start inspecting, they find “problems” that will add on to the cost, and then pressure you to agree to the cleaning at their increased prices. They often using scare tactics, such as warning that you are damaging your air conditioner or that your ducts are full of mold.

The other way they make money is to do the “cleaning” for the stated price, but not at a professional level. They will open some vents and shove a standard household vacuum around inside, and call the job done in 30 minutes or so. A professional cleaning requires specialized equipment and takes several hours to complete.

Shoddy service can end up costing you even more, as there are delicate components in the system that can be damaged by careless handling. Furthermore, stirring up the dust and debris in the ducts can make allergies worse instead of better. A professional cleaning firm uses equipment that draws all the dust and debris to the outside of the house, where it is collected.

If an air duct cleaning technician working on an estimate claims to have found mold in your ducts — or even scarier, “black mold” — this can be a sign of a scam operation. If you do have a mold problem, you need to have it treated by someone who specializes in cleaning up mold.

Angie Hicks of Angie’s List recommends sending the cleaner away and contacting a qualified mold-testing firm to inspect and confirm whether mold is actually present and how serious the infestation is. If the inspection shows a minor problem that can be alleviated by a duct cleaning, you can go back to getting your quotes.

If you do have a serious mold problem, hire a specialized mold remediation firm. Someone untrained in mold remediation can spread the mold rather than alleviate it. This can lead to serious health problems for the residents of the house, and a more expensive cleanup later.

Choosing an Air Duct Cleaning Business

With all the potential scam artists, how do you make sure you get a qualified professional to clean your ducts? Start by asking friends and neighbors for referrals, and check online reviews of local businesses.

To make sure you are getting the best price, get quotes from at least three firms. A good business will come out and look at your system before quoting a price. Make sure the estimate includes a detailed listing of the services provided so that when you compare the quotes, you can be sure you are comparing prices for the same level of service.

Air duct cleaning is a relatively young field, and there are no licensing or certification requirements in most states. However, a reputable cleaning firm will follow the standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and will have credentials showing that they are members of the organization.

To be an NADCA member, a business must agree to follow the industry standards for cleaning, abide by a code of ethics, and have at least one employee who has professional certification through NADCA. The business also has to show NADCA that they carry liability insurance, which could be important if anything gets damaged during your cleaning.

Finally, once you have chosen an air duct cleaning business, make sure they give you a checklist of everything that they will do during the cleaning. When they are finished, have them walk you through and show you that they did everything on the list.

If they do not have a list of their own, there is a sample checklist on the NADCA website that you can download as a PDF and print out.

Take your time in choosing your air duct cleaning firm and don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics. Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Follow the suggestions here to get a thorough, professionally done air duct cleaning at a fair price.