The air ducts in your home can have a large impact on your home’s energy efficiency and air quality, which is why you’ll want to ensure that they’re kept clean and in good shape.
Understanding the cost difference between ducting repair and replacement is important for homeowners to decide the best course of action for them. So, let’s weigh air duct replacement costs vs repair.
What Are Air Ducts?
Ducts are a large piping system that supplies heated or cooled air from HVAC system throughout the house. Ducts are long pipes or rectangular channels made of sheet metal, fiberglass, steel, PVC or aluminum. These rigid or flexible ducts are located in ceilings, attics, basements and utility rooms.
Duct accessories and components
Air ducts are often the most important elements of responsible production lines. These system can work almost without stopping for a long time, providing the necessary air flow under pressure. However, a situation may arise in which one of the components or the entire structure completely ceases to function in the usual mode.
The way out in this case is the repair of air duct, replacement of worn parts and restoration of system operability. This process can be carried out independently or with the help of qualified specialists. It all depends on the complexity of the breakdown.
Ductwork Cost Calculator
The following table shows the average cost to replace ductwork:
Average ductwork cost
Amount of costs
|National average cost||$3,500|
|Average range||$1,400 to $5,600|
New Ductwork Installation Cost
An air duct is a system of metal pipes placed in a room in order to distribute air through it and extract air from it. Air can be supplied and drawn both naturally and artificially by means of fans. The ducts are of round and rectangular cross-section and are connected by shaped parts.
A typical installation of 300 linear feet of ductwork costs about $3,000 to $7,500 on average. For comparison, some huge species can cost about $15,000.
An important price criterion is the complexity of the work. If it is easy to get to the installation site and make repairs, then the price will be lower. Modernization of an already finished house with closed walls, unique layouts and the need for large works can significantly increase the cost of work.
Commercial Ductwork Cost per Linear Foot
Commercial ductwork can be installed on average for $15-35 per linear foot. But the price may vary depending on location and access. The more complicated the installation, the higher the price tag.
Air Duct Replacement Cost
The installation of residential sheet metal ducts costs an average of $25 – $55 per linear foot. This replace ductwork cost also includes the removal of old ductwork and the installation of a new ductwork. On average, you’ll need a 100-feet duct.
Air duct replacement cost by location
|Crawl spaces||$3,000 – $7,300|
|Attic||$2,200 – $5,600|
|Basement||$1,800 – $3,100|
|Mobile home||$1,000 – $3,300|
Cost to replace ductwork in crawl spaces
Replace ductwork in a bypass space costs an average of $3,000 to $7,300, depending on size, condition and availability. Ductwork installation contractors recommend cleaning, repairing or sealing the bypass space before installing new ductwork to ensure maximum efficiency and durability of the system:
- Cleaning the bypass space on average costs from $500 to $4,000.
- From 2,500 to 8,000 dollars is the cost of repairing the bypass space and, as a rule, includes cleaning.
- On average, the cost of crawl space replacing ductwork the bypass space is from 3,000 to 8,000 dollars.
The cost of replacing the ducts in attics
The cost to replace ductwork in an attic averages of $2,200 to $5,600, depending on the availability and size of the system. Additional attic insulation costs from $800 to $1,500. Insulation of flexible ducts in the attic increases energy efficiency in air-conditioned attics and prevents overload of air conditioners.
The cost of replacing air ducts in basements
The cost to replace ductwork in a basement is on average from 1,800 to 3,100 dollars. The duct replacement in the basement is usually the cheapest, since the ducts are easy to access.
Depending on the size of the duct replacement, the cost of all work will change. On average, you need 100 linear feet. But there are situations when more or less material is needed, so when calculating the amount, try to focus on the approximate amount of work.
Removal costs for existing ductwork
Do not also forget that the you will need to remove the old ducts if necessary. Such a service is performed by a separate account and on average will cost from 1,200 to 1,500 dollars. Here, the price also varies due to several factors.
This price is either issued by a separate invoice, or is included in the final calculation. In addition to removing the install ductwork, this cost also includes the disposal of materials.
Exposed Cost to Replace Ductwork
Open existing ducts cost from $10 to $33 per per linear foot. Open rigid metal ducts are easier to access than hidden new ducts. However, the prices of ducts for open ceilings are increasing due to more expensive materials, painting and longer installation time.
Ductwork material costs
Even more important in pricing is the class of the material. Higher-quality material costs more. It is also worth spending money on the design install ductwork. Since the material also depends on the design.
Mobile home ductwork cost
Replacing ducting for mobile homes costs an average of $1,000 to $3,300. Ductwork installation in mobile homes are usually located under the floor with insulation, which makes it difficult to replace them. Total costs depend on the size of the mobile home, duct material and availability.
Installing Ducts and HVAC System
Let’s take a closer look at the cost of installing a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with an air duct. On average, this price ranges from $7,000 to $16,000. The latter price is usually used to upgrade existing homes. The installation of heating and cooling system costs from 5,000 to 11,000 dollars. If we talk about the new HVAC ductwork – 2,400 – 6,000 dollars.
Cost to replace HVAC ducts
Type of installed HVAC
Cost of HVAC unit
Installation of HVAC with the cost of air ducts
|Central air conditioning||$3,300 – $5,900||$4,700 – $11,500|
|Oven||$2,000 – $5,400||$3,400 – $11,000|
|Heat pump||$3,800 – $8,200||$5,200 – $13,800|
|Geothermal heat pump||$15,000 – $35,000||$16,400 – $40,600|
Asbestos and mold in air ducts
Sometimes in the existing ductwork you can find such unpleasant dangerous elements as asbestos and mold. They can be dangerous to human life, therefore, before carrying out any work, you need to get rid of them immediately.
To do this, you will need:
- Inspection for the presence of asbestos 250 – 700 dollars.
- Asbestos removal costs $700 to $2,200 to remove asbestos-filled ducts.
- Mold inspection and testing costs from $200 to $650.
- Mold removal costs from 450 to 6,000 dollars, depending on the level of contamination.
Air Duct Installation Cost Factors
Let’s take a closer look at what money is spent on when installing or replacing an air duct.
Materials are a very important factor. The quality and operating time of your duct installation may depend on it in the future, so we advise you not to save on materials and use only high-quality products.
Most common materials for air duct
Average Cost Range per linear foot
|Flexible polyester||$1 – $4||Wire-reinforced plastic prone to tears and pest infestation; has the shortest life span; installs easily in tight spaces|
|Flexible aluminum (foil)||$2 – $5||Tears easily and rodents can chew through it; installs quickly in oddly shaped areas|
|Flexible insulated||$2 – $6||Prone to mold and mildew; excellent for short runs|
|Fiberglass or fiberboard||$4 – $7||Lightweight and easy to install; can create air quality issues|
|Sheet metal (galvanized steel)||$4 – $12||Standard for home use with an almost unlimited life span; doesn’t rot; withstands all pests; most expensive; takes the longest to install|
|Double-wall spiral (commercial)||$10 – $16||Excellent for exposed areas as an architectural design element|
Adding a vent
Such an action costs an average of 200 – 500 dollars. The price usually varies due to the location and complexity of the repair work. Such a vent helps to increase the efficiency of your ductwork costs.
Insulation is very important for new ducts. It costs an average of 1,000-3,000 dollars, but for especially large houses the price tag can be up to 5,000 dollars. It’s better to see the insulation calculator here.
Asbestos and mold
As mentioned earlier, these two elements can harm human health, so they need to be disposed of before all repair work begins. Consider the expense of removing and checking asbestos and mold, too.
It will be about the HVAC ductwork installation cost. Often you will need a special permission to install it. Let’s take a closer look at what the price depends on:
- the cost of installing a suspended ceiling: from 1000 to 3,000 dollars in the USA.
- wall repair price: 300-900 dollars
The cost of installing drywall is from 1,000 to 3,000 dollars.
Cost to insulate ductwork
Existing ductwork system wrap insulation costs $800 to $2,000 on average for materials and labor. Duct insulation costs $1 to $8 per square foot installed, depending on the home’s size, insulation type, location, and accessibility.
DUCT WRAP INSULATION COST
Total cost installed per square foot
|Fiberglass (flexible)||$1 – $4|
|Fiberglass (flexible)||$4 – $8|
|Mineral wool (flexible)||$2 – $4|
Installing Ducts and HVAC System
Adding central air conditioning
The installation of a central air conditioner cost about 3,800-7,500 dollars, including from 2,000 to 5,000 dollars for installation. This existing ductwork system uses a thermostat to maintain a constant room temperature and perfect humidity in each room. If you already have an oven, you can usually use the same air ducts and an air cleaner in it.
Upgrading a forced-air heating system
The transition to forced air heating, which uses air leaks ducts and ventilation openings, is common in new homes and during reconstruction. This exposed ducts works more efficiently than older technologies such as baseboard heating or radiators.
- The cost of installing the furnace: $2,800–$6,800
- The cost of installing a heat pump: $4,200–$7,500
Maintenance and cleaning of air ducts
The cost of professional duct cleaning and vents on average from 300 to 500 dollars. Most homeowners should consider this service every two to five years. If you change HVAC system indoor air quality filters once a season, you can go longer without cleaning.
Professional duct armor cleaning with air filter includes supply and return air ducts, diffusers, gratings, heat exchangers, coils, fans, drip trays and ventilation openings. This will help ductwork replacement, mold and pollen air conditioning.
Ductwork repair cost
Replacing ducts for most projects cost between $200 and $700, although you can pay more for complex tasks. Repairs often increase energy efficiency. Repairing certain parts of the leaky ducts, such as the air distribution unit or individual vents, is not unusual during the life of the house.
|Minor repairs||$200 – $700||as needed|
|Duct Cleaning||$300 – $500||every 2-5 years|
|Duct Sealing||$250 – $2000||as needed|
|Ducted Armor||$2000 – $10,000||once|
Duct sealing cost
Duct sealing costs from $250 to $2,000, depending on the size of your home and the condition of the flex duct. This work includes checking it for leaks, determining their location and closing it with a sealant or tape.
Duct armor cost
This replacing ducts is a sprayable coating that is applied inside your existing duct armor costs to clean, seal and restore it. Flexible ductwork armor costs from $2,000 to $10,000. Homeowners are more likely to choose this as an alternative to major demolition of the basement or foundation.
Repair vs replacement costs
Generally speaking, air duct repair will be less expensive than attic ductwork replacement. HomeAdvisor estimates the average cost of replacing duct type across the country per linear foot. Keep in mind that estimates are only so useful, especially when assessing the ductwork costs of work in areas with a high cost of living.
The ductwork costs of repairs is even more difficult to determine. Ductwork repair often takes the form of patching areas to restore the integrity of the air duct cleaning. Duct repairs are a great option if you just need to tweak the air seals and connections.
The cost of each repair job will depend on:
- what needs to be repaired,
- how difficult it is to access the ductwork,
- what material was chosen,
- the price of the individual components,
- labor costs if you need your duct replacement done professionally.
But sometimes you have to choose not by cost, but by the need for design changes. Watch the video to check for these problems in your HVAC ductwork:
FAQ: Ductwork Replacement Costs vs Repair in 2023
How often should ductwork be replaced?
Usually one new ductwork replacement serves on average from 10 to 25 years, but the working life can vary due to time factors and much more. Sheet metal and galvanized steel are very durable and with proper care will serve you for a long time. But improper installation often leads to problems in operation and rapid wear and tear of the duct system.
How long does it take to replace ductwork?
New ductwork installation for a professional takes from one to two days. If they replace the old material, dismantling the existing ducts may take an extra day.
Can you use flex ducts in a crawl space?
You can use a flexible duct maintenance in a walk-through room if it has a vapor barrier. This prevents water leakage and may provide some protection from rodents. However, you will most likely want to isolate it.
Hiring a professional duct installer
Hire new ductwork laying contractors who will install them properly in accordance with all building code standards.
When choosing an air duct contractor:
- Make sure they are licensed, committed, and insured.
- Formulate the scope of tasks that you plan to entrust to the contractor. The performer must clearly understand what is required of him.
- Next, determine the criteria that are important to you, for compliance with which you will check candidates.
There are no exact characteristics of a good contractor, because it depends on the task at hand. But there are generalized criteria that are worth considering:
- Portfolio of works
The best proof of experience is completed works. But you need to look not only at colorful booklets or wow-sites. If the projects are physical objects, try to see them “live”. For Internet projects, pay attention to detailed cases. And if possible, try to get the contact details of previous customers to ask them about the quality of services.
- Work experience
Ask how many years the contractor or contractor has been working in the market. Don’t be lazy to find out what the contractor was doing before. Preference is best given to those who specialize in a particular field for at least 2-3 years.
- Experience in using technologies and materials for HVAC system
Check that the HVAC contractor knows how to handle the tools used in your business. Otherwise, the training may take a long time. It is in your best interest that the hired company understands the structure of the air conditioner, air filter and other things.
- The presence of business connections
In particular, ask if the contractor has permanent suppliers or partners, and if he knows the materials market (if necessary).
- Permits, licenses
If the activity requires licensing, make sure that the contractor has all the necessary documents (permits, certificates, permits, etc.).
Does ductwork need to be insulated?
Air ducts in non-conditioned rooms need insulation. Install ducts reduces energy costs by 10-40%, prevents condensation and prolongs the service life of the ducts. Cold air requires thermal insulation. In hot and humid climates, dust-permeable insulation is most beneficial.
Do you need to replace ductwork when replacing an AC unit?
Do heat pumps require ductwork?
Heat pumps can have mini split systems with or without install ducts. Conventional air heat pumps need air ducts to move air around the house. Contactless systems ensure the circulation of refrigerant through small pipelines from external compressors to internal blowers.
Repair of the existing duct installer, as a rule, will cost less than replacing the entire system with new ducts. The cost of replacement is usually expressed in the price per linear foot or in the number of duties. The exposed ductwork for the area in which you live, the materials used for the ducts, the amount of work and the complexity of access to the ducts all together determine the total cost of the project.