When we talk to homeowners about their HVAC system upkeep, air ducts are notably the last thing they consider a matter of concern.
Although, this is quite understandable considering their hidden placement in a home. It's easy to overlook! Nonetheless, air ducts are one essential part of your home's ventilation system.
Homeowners lose roughly 25% of the air in the HVAC ductwork on average, primarily attributed to leaks and other duct-related problems. It doesn't seem like a pressing issue at first; it may add up to hundreds of dollars wasted every year.
The national average cost for replacing ductwork is between $2,200 and $6,300 with most homeowners spending around $4,500 for professional installation of 300 linear feet of aluminum ducts, insulation, and vents. This would be for a single-family home of about 2,000 square feet.
5 Ductwork Project Scopes: Estimated Costs
1. Adding a Vent to Editing Ductwork
This is a relatively simple project for an experienced contractor. First, a load calculation will be done to establish whether the system can support a new vent. If so the ductwork will only need a few feet to be run off the initial existing duct along with a new vent cut into the drywall.
Estimated cost range: $400 - $1,500
The cost is really a factor of how far the new vent is from an existing duct route and whether or not there is an attic crawlspace.
2. Replacing Ducts in a 1200 Sqft Condo without Attic Crawlspace
Estimated cost range: $4,140- $6,785 (mid-level)
A ductwork replacement project for a standard two-bedroom, 1200 sq ft condo is more accessible than a whole-house project. For one, your contractor doesn't have to deal with an attic crawl space.
Old condominium units tend to skip a metal or flex ductwork for dropped ceilings and soffits instead. If you're looking for renovation ideas, start by adding insulated flex ducting to your living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms.
3. Replacing Ducts in a 4000 Sqft Home
Estimated cost range: $6,705 - $11,500
By most standards, a 4,000 sq ft home is considerably big, so expect for houses this size to have 3 to 5 bedrooms on average.
Replacing all the old ductwork with this project scope will cost you somewhere between $6,705 to $11,500. The primary cost factors depend on the length and duct type used (fiber duct, sheet metal, or round flexible ductwork) and local labor rates.
Other common factors that may increase the total project costs for this project scope are:
4. Ductwork Retrofit on a 2000 Sqft Home
Estimated cost range: $3,910 - $7,820 for retrofits in existing homes
Simply put, some old homes will be easier to retrofit than others. Suppose your 2000 square foot home has an existing forced-air heating system; your new air conditioner can make use of the old ductwork instead.
It makes the project quicker and more cost-effective, costing you as little as $3,910 with two contractors working on the project for 1 to 2 days max. Most likely, they will do little to almost no changing to your ductwork. But, if your home needs new ducts, expect the costs to increase (or probably double).
5. Attic Duct Replacement with Insulation for a 2000 Sqft Home
Replacing the old ductwork in your attic crawl space and installing insulation will cost $2,415 to $5,405 on average. The total project costs will heavily depend on the size of your attic and the existing ductwork system.
Adding insulation to your attic is a great way to save on your recurring energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, a properly insulated attic may save you up to 10 to 50% of your typical heating bill.
Estimated cost range: $2,415 to $5,405
Of course, several influential cost factors come into play in calculating the cost of your air duct replacement project. For instance, if your home is more extensive than average or the existing ductwork has accessibility problems, expect the costs to increase accordingly.
If you happen to have air duct-related problems, your HVAC unit won't be able to cool the home during the hot summer days sufficiently.
Major Reasons to Replace Ductwork
Let's discuss the most critical reasons to opt for a ductwork replacement.
Opt for air duct cleaning at once if you smell a constant musty smell or deal with allergic reactions commonly associated with possible mold exposure. (Related: 10 Homeowners Share Their Duct Cleaning Experience & Total Costs) However, if the mold growth is severe and continuously persistent, it might be time to contact a professional to assess if duct replacement is an excellent option to take.
It's best to act on the mold problem as soon as possible, given that mold can dramatically affect your home's indoor air quality (IAQ).
Suppose you have aging ductwork at home. In that case, it's crucial to keep a close eye on it. Although ductwork may last up to 25 years given periodic cleaning and proper maintenance, it can still lose efficiency in the long run. You wouldn't want to waste as much as 40 percent efficiency of your HVAC units.
Factors Affecting Air Duct Replacement Cost
When it comes to your air duct replacement expenses, several variables may affect the total costs. Here are some of the most crucial factors that will determine the project range:
Your installer may choose different duct types/materials depending on the local building codes, HVAC system requirements, and more.
Refer to the table below for a quick overview of the different duct types and their average cost.
Cost per linear foot
Flexible non-insulated materials are often covered in plastic or aluminum. It is a popular choice among homeowners because it's lightweight and easy to install. While ideal for small and tight living spaces, it is prone to infestations and moisture damage.
You may also choose flexible insulating material, which is best for unconditioned spaces. One downside is its tendency to encourage mold growth.
Another choice is fiberglass or fiberboard material, ideal for long and straight duct lines. It doesn't need any additional insulation.
Lastly, sheet metal which is rigid and made from galvanized aluminum/steel, has a long lifespan and is mold-resistant. It's best with external duct insulation.
Size of Your Home
Naturally, larger-sized homes will need you to spend more on material costs (more linear footage of ductwork). The total size of your hose is perhaps the most defining factor in calculating the total project costs.
Here's a quick rundown of different standard home sizes in square feet and their average estimated price range.
Homes measuring 1,000 to 1,500 sq ft will cost around $1,400 to $3,910 for ductwork replacement. Those with 1,500 to 2,000 sq ft homes will shell out $2,400 to $5,175.
Standard homes measuring 2,000 to 2,500 sq ft cost $3220 to $6440, 2,500 to 3,000 sq ft homes run for $4025 to $6,700, while 3,000 to 3,500 sq ft houses cost $4830 to $7,800.
Number of Duct Runs
Aside from the total size of your house, its layout will also affect the price of duct replacement. A ranch will have more duct runs than a typical two-story home (even if both measure the same square feet).
Simply put, the complexity of the ductwork project will determine the total pricing. Other factors include the age of the house/duct and the location of the ductwork.
R-value of Insulated Ducts
The ductwork in your attic has an R-value of R6 to R10. It's best to prepare your budget accordingly since the ducting is more expensive for higher R-value ducts.
Don't worry. Even if the upfront costs are far more expensive, higher R-values are ideal as it pays for themselves in no time. Increased insulation in any living space helps you cut down energy costs all year round.
If your contractor stumbles across mold-related problems, you may need to pay them an additional cost for effective treatment.
For your reference, mold remediation may be expensive. Severe infestations may even require a separate project budget.
Ductwork replacement costs vary by 10 to 25%, depending on where you live. Notably, it is most expensive for properties located on the Coast. The average prices are applicable for large metropolitan areas such as Chicago or Dallas.
The project costs the cheapest in rural Midwest areas, the South, and Plains.
On average, duct wrap insulation costs anywhere between $920 to $2,300 for both materials and labor costs. Per square foot, that translates to $2 to $10 depending on the total home size, type of insulation, and location.
Refer to the table below to overview the different insulation types and the average duct wrap insulation costs.
Cost Per Square Foot
$2 - $5
Foam Board/Rigid Fiberglass
$5 - $9
Flexible Mineral Wool
$3 - $5
Suppose your contractor says you need to relocate existing ductwork. In that case, prepare to spend around $29 to $63 per linear foot.
Relocating or moving your ductwork will need the disposal of old ducts to install new ones in the same area.
Most duct replacement projects do not require a permit. However, it’s best to check your local codes to ensure such is the case for your property.
In some cases, you’ll need to secure a building permit, which will cost you about $63 to $287. Permits for an entire HVAC system duct replacement will range between $287 and $1,725.
Keep in mind that the fees will heavily depend on any applicable local code regulation– so it varies on a case-to-case basis.
Professional labor costs begin from $5 to $9 per foot. It will depend on the ductwork type, complexity of the project, or any accessibility problems. If you’re wondering how long this project typically lasts– this is usually a job that takes at least 1 to 4 days.
Homes that connect the ceiling ducts with the attic air handler will be a quick project. Meanwhile, if you need to replace ducts in a multi-story home, this may last longer since it involves wall stacks.
Let’s discuss a ductwork replacement project for a 2,500 square foot two-story home:
It brings the total project duration to 2 to 4 days.
Interior Location (Includes Material and Labor)
Another determining cost factor is the interior location of your ductwork replacement project. For your reference, here’s a brief rundown of the different interior locations and their average costs.
Homeowners who need to clean their air ducts and vents need to spend around $432. This service is often availed once every 2 to 5 years.
Let’s say you replace your HVAC air filters with a new one every season. Generally, this may prolong the urgent need for a cleaning service. Availing professional cleaning services clears out any build-up of dust, mold, or pollen in your air duct system at home.
Should I Hire a Professional Duct Installer?
Homeowners who turn to a local professional installer will spend anywhere between $5 and $11 for the labor costs per linear foot. Though exposed ductwork can be conveniently accessed, most ductwork has it concealed, which presents accessibility problems. Expect a professional to complete the project in 1 to 2 days at most.
Here are some things to consider if you're searching for the best HVAC contractors near you:
It is essential to ensure the ductwork is properly sized and installed to avoid dealing with costly problems in the long run. Hence, consider a professional ductwork installation for this project.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Typically, almost all ductwork products may last from 10 to 25 years. However, you may have to replace it sooner due to faulty installation, resulting in damage or leaks.
It may require 1 to 2 days for a ductwork installation. Replacing old materials, however, may take 2 to 3 days to install. Expect the process to last up to 4 days if you work on a more complex project or bigger homes.