How Air Duct Cleaning May Save You on Energy Costs

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated January 13, 2022
A man cleaning an air duct with a vacuum
Photo: Bill Oxford / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Air duct cleaning can be an important part of HVAC system maintenance for some homes.

  • The cost to clean your air ducts varies but averages $370.

  • Cleaning your HVAC system, including your air ducts, can remove dirt buildup that can lower your system’s efficiency and wear it down physically.

  • Experts suggest cleaning your air ducts if you notice excess dirt or mold in your system, or every three to five years if needed.

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Whether you’re a stickler for cleanliness or your home constantly looks like a tornado hit it, your air ducts accumulate dirt, dust, and debris over time. If you have kids who love to play in the dirt and pets who shed relentlessly, that dirt builds up especially quickly.

Cleaning your air ducts every few years may improve your HVAC system’s overall efficiency and cut your energy bill down, but you should know a few important facts first.

What Is Air Duct Cleaning?

Air duct cleaning is a way to maintain your HVAC system, addressing the ductwork that circulates air throughout your home. While you can DIY basic air duct cleaning by vacuuming your vents, hiring a local professional air duct cleaner will result in a more thorough clean to remove dirt, dust, and debris buildup.

Clean Air Ducts Can Have an Effect on Energy Costs

Cleaning your air ducts removes dirt, dust, and debris buildup that can block your system’s airflow over time. Blockages make your HVAC system much less efficient, so removing them increases the system’s efficiency. Clean ducts mean your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature meaning it won’t need to use as much energy to run, and your energy bill will be lower.

Regularly cleaning your air ducts, while maximizing your HVAC system’s efficiency, also maximizes the system’s life. Dirt and debris can wear on your system, so there is some evidence that removing it eliminates that risk.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests cleaning all of your HVAC system’s components, including but not limited to the ducts, to extend the system’s life. While not the only part of HVAC system maintenance, cleaning your air ducts can be an important one.

How Much Does Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

A woman cleaning an air duct
Photo: tab1962 / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

The average cost to clean air ducts is $370. Costs vary based on the size of your home, the number of ducts, and how easy it is to access your HVAC system.

The professional you hire may also suggest repairs, replacements, or upgrades to your system while they clean. It’s not unusual for a vetted pro to find other problems with your HVAC system during routine cleanings. HVAC repairs generally cost between $100 and $600.

If you notice visible mold growth in your ducts and a lab confirms it, you’ll need a specially trained professional to remove it. Because mold removal is hazardous, it costs more. Expect to pay between $600 and $2,000 for mold removal. Although it’s expensive upfront, removing it quickly can save you thousands of dollars on future mold removal and remediation.

How Often Should You Clean Air Ducts?

The National Air Duct Cleaning Association suggests cleaning air ducts every three to five years. You should also consider cleaning your air ducts in these situations:

  • After a remodel

  • After moving into a new home

  • If you live with pets that shed

  • If you live with smokers

That said, the EPA says homeowners do not need to have their air ducts professionally cleaned unless there’s strong evidence of mold, vermin, standing water, or a large amount of dirt or dust buildup. If you’re wondering how to know when to clean your air ducts, visually inspect them for buildup or perform a smell test to detect mold or mildew.

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