Don’t be daft about your draft—hiring a qualified ductwork contractor can be a breeze
Good ductwork leads to great energy savings, so it’s important to hire a qualified contractor when you’re updating or repairing your HVAC system. In most states, ductwork contractors need a specialized license. When you’re hiring an HVAC contractor, look for a contractor that specializes in your specific type of HVAC system, gather quotes from at least three different contractors, and always ask questions.
How to Find a Ductwork Contractor
Many homeowners referrals from neighbors, friends, or family to find a qualified ductwork professional. If you don’t already have a good recommendation, start your search online. Browse local business websites and directories like Angi or HomeAdvisor.
You may even want to ask on local social media groups or neighborhood forums. Search for HVAC contractors with good reviews and look at the quality of reviews. In-depth reviews give you a picture of where an HVAC business succeeds and where it struggles. When in doubt, Angi’s list of top-rated local HVAC contractors is a great place to start.
Before Hiring a Ductwork Contractor
Before you hire a ductwork contractor, you’ll need to get an idea of the type of work you want done, your overall budget, and what you’re looking for in a professional.
Plan Your Ductwork Project for Accurate Quotes
Some HVAC contractors have varying specialties and may only focus on heating, cooling, or refrigeration. Others may specialize in a niche category like solar technology, air duct cleaning, or ductwork design. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and plan your ductwork in advance, which may include items from this list:
Replace existing ductwork
Install a new heating or cooling system
Upgrade your heating or cooling system
Seal your ducts
Repair damaged ducts
Improve your home’s ventilation
Add vents to existing ductwork
Clean and tune up your vents and ducts
HVAC contractors and duct cleaning services typically provide a free estimate. According to HomeAdvisor, new ductwork usually costs about $10 to $20 per linear foot, and ductwork replacement costs $12 to $25 per linear foot. Shop around and get quotes from multiple contractors.
Check Your Ductwork Contractor’s Qualifications and References
Almost every state requires an HVAC contractor to have some type of liability insurance and a specialized license—but not all licenses are equal. Some states only authorize HVAC repairs, while others allow for installation of different capacity units. Since there’s no standardized licensing board, you'll have to check with your state. In addition to a license, an HVAC professional may have one of the following certifications:
North American Trade Excellence (NATE) Certification
HVAC Excellence Certification
HVAC Quality Installation Standard
EPA 606 Certification
Air Systems Cleaning Specialist (ASCS) Certification
Certified Ventilation Inspector (CVI) Certification
Certifications aren’t always mandatory, but they do help verify expertise. Though most ductwork contractors need a license, most HVAC technicians don’t. If you’re getting an air duct cleaning from an HVAC technician, you’ll have to rely on references, online reviews, and asking questions.
Questions to Ask Your Ductwork Contractor
A good contractor will be transparent about their qualifications and process, starting from their initial estimate to the final payment. Before hiring a contractor, ask the following questions:
What is your training and experience?
What are your HVAC certifications?
Do you have a specialty?
Can I see a copy of your license and liability insurance?
Can you provide references?
Are you experienced in this type of ductwork?
How long will the job take?
Do you charge an hourly or fixed rate?
What do you expect to be the overall cost, and how do you determine quotes?
What are your payment terms, and how do you handle changes to the estimate?
Does this work come with a warranty or guarantee?
Tips for Hiring Your Ductwork Contractor
These tips can help you avoid a potential problem during your ductwork job.
Interview Your Pro Ductwork Contractor
Always interview more than one professional. This will help you get a consensus about the job deliverables and how much they should cost.
Ask for a Background Check
Since HVAC contractors usually need a license, you should ask your contractor for:
A copy of their licenses or certificates
A copy of their insurance
A background check
The background check will help you avoid a potential air duct scam. If your contractor won’t agree to a background check, it’s a red flag.
Get a Contract and Arrange Payments with Your Ductwork Contractor
A contract will lay out the project phases and payment process, so there is no confusion on when to pay or what you're paying for. Your ductwork contract should define:
How to contact your ductwork contractor
Performance guarantees and installer warranties
Work specifications (everything from acquiring permits to duct cleaning equipment to disposal of job site waste)
What happens if the job changes
What makes your contract void (also known as a termination clause)
How you resolve a conflict between parties (also known as indemnification terms)
Keep Records of Your Ductwork Project
It’s important to keep a record of the progress your contractor makes, the hours they work, your payments, and any changes to the initial plan. Use this record to check your invoices.
Look for Red Flags and Prepare to Troubleshoot
Unexpected things might come up during a ductwork job, so you may have to troubleshoot with your contractor. The best way to ensure a smooth process is to hire a qualified HVAC contractor and keep an eye out for potential red flags, which include:
A one-person company: Though some contractors work alone, there may be less accountability for solo contractors who don’t work for a larger company
No insurance, permits, or certification
Bad online reviews
No online reviews: This isn’t necessarily a red flag, but it could signal a new (or inexperienced) contractor or an illegitimate business
Will not submit a background check
Will not provide references
Very low prices: Most of the time, you get what you pay for
Long response times: If your contractor isn’t very responsive during the hiring process, they’re unlikely to be responsive if you have a problem down the line
After Your Ductwork Contractor Has Finished
Ductwork lasts 10 to 25 years with proper maintenance. Once your contractor has finished and you've made your final payment, it's essential to keep up with maintaining your HVAC system and existing ductwork. You can use an HVAC maintenance checklist and a dryer and dryer vent inspection checklist to make sure you don’t miss a beat.