How Much Does It Cost To Replace Ductwork Or Vents?

Typical Range:

$454 - $2,064

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,624 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated August 4, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Ducts silently move air from your heating and cooling system to the far reaches of your home, keeping the temperature even throughout the house. On average, the cost to replace ductwork is $1,184, or between $454 and $2,064. You'll spend about $10 to $25 per linear foot for a home and about double that for a business.

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National Average $1,184
Typical Range $454 - $2,064
Low End - High End $140 - $4,700

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,624 HomeAdvisor members.

New Duct Installation Costs

Ducts are a system of square or round metal tubes that branch out from your home's central heating or air conditioning system. Your heater or AC pushes air through them, distributing air around your home. 

Installing the standard 300 linear feet of ducts costs around $3,000 to $7,500, while huge homes might run $15,000 or more. Most of the price range comes from how complex the job is. You'll find new constructions, open basements, attics, and additions more affordable because they’re easier to access, plan, and install since the walls are open. Retrofitting an existing home with closed walls, unique layouts, and needing heavy modification can quickly double the price. 

Ductwork Cost per Square Foot

Ductwork costs around $0.50 to $3 per square foot to install. However, it's not usually measured by square feet but instead by linear feet. For every 1,000 square feet of home, you'll have about 110 linear feet of ducts.

Sq. Ft. Lin. Ft. Average Price Range for Ductwork
1,000 – 2,500110 – 280$1,100 – $6,880
2,000 – 3,500220 – 390$2,200 – $9,630
3,000 – 4,500+330 – 500$3,300 – $12,380

Estimating the linear feet you need depends more on your home's footprint than the total square footage. A 2,500-square-foot house with one story may require 100 to 150 linear feet of ductwork than a home of the same size with three floors.

Commercial Ductwork Cost per Linear Foot

Installing commercial ductwork costs $25 to $55 per linear foot. The price is higher than residential installation because of different materials, duct sizes, permitting fees, and engineering required for commercial spaces. Included in the prices listed below are the material costs plus fittings for about $5 to $9 per linear foot and labor rates at around $10 to $15 per linear foot.

Sq. Ft. Lin. Ft. Average Price Range for Ductwork
2,500 – 3,500300$7,500 – $16,500
3,500 – 4,500400$10,000 – $22,000
4,500 – 5,500500$12,500 – $27,500
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Air Duct Replacement Cost

Man opening ceiling air vent to replace
Photo: The Toidi / Adobe Stock

Replacing ductwork costs approximately $10 to $35 per linear foot. This includes the price to remove the existing materials and install new ones. If you have to cut into the floor or ceiling to reach the ducts, add about $500 to $3,000 or more to the project total.

Aging ductwork needs attention just the same as any other home system. Good maintenance and periodic cleaning can help it last up to 25 to 50 years or longer. When cleaned and in a lower humidity environment, sheet metal can last for a lifetime. However, as materials crack, rust, degrade, and develop leaks, they can lose up to 40% efficiency. 

Here are some of the most common materials for air ducts:

Air Duct Material Type Pros Cons
Flexible polyesterLeast expensive; fits in tight spacesShortest life span; prone to damage from pests
Flexible aluminumMore durable than polyester; fits in tight spacesNot energy-efficient; prone to pest damage; lower life span than sheet metal
Galvanized steelMost durable; longest life span; easiest to insulateMost expensive; takes the longest to install
Average costs to replace ductwork compared by 4 locations, including attic, basement, and crawl space
Photo: Mireya Acierto/DigitalVision / Getty Images, Andrea Rugg/The Image Bank / Getty Images, PC Photography/iStock/Getty Images Plus / Getty Images, Grandbrothers/iStock/Getty Images Plus / Getty Images (from top to bottom)

Crawl Space

Replacing ductwork in a crawl space costs approximately $3,000 to $7,800, assuming the area is clean and in good condition. If it's not, additional services may include:

Attic

Replacing the ducts in your attic costs $1,500 to $5,500 on average since they're easier to access than ducts in the rest of the home. It's a popular spot to put in central air or heat in single-story homes since all the ducts are exposed. 

You can increase the efficiency of the system by adding insulation. Installing attic insulation costs around $1,700 to $2,100 and may be an excellent project to do at the same time.

Basement

Replacing ducts in a basement costs $1,500 to $6,500 on average, depending if you have exposed ceilings and the overall basement size. If it’s unfinished, it’s one of the least expensive places to install new ducts. 

Exposed Ductwork 

Exposed ductwork costs around $10 to $40 per linear foot. Leaving it exposed makes it easier to access and adds an industrial design element to the space. If it's in a common living area, you may want to consider painting them or using a higher-end material with more design appeal.

Mobile Home

Mobile home ductwork replacement costs $1,500 to $3,500 on average. The total cost depends on the home size, crawl space accessibility, and duct type you opt for. 

Mobile homes often need more linear feet of material because they have one trunk for each unit. For example, a double-wide may have two trunks, whereas a stick-built house usually has one.

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Air Duct Installation Cost Factors

Worker installing ventilation grille
Photo: yunava1 / Adobe Stock

The main cost factors for installing or replacing ducts are the materials, number of vents, and location accessibility. You'll want an HVAC professional to estimate your need based on your home's layout, where the ducts fit best, and how many total linear feet you'll need. 

Material

Part of your budget goes to the type and quality of the duct you choose. You may end up using more than one material. For example, short runs from the main duct to a new vent might use a flexible duct, but the main duct can be sheet metal. Material rates fall into these categories:

Duct Type Average Cost Range per Lin. Ft. Notes
Flexible polyester$1 – $4Wire-reinforced plastic prone to tears and pest infestation; has the shortest life span; installs easily in tight spaces
Flexible aluminum (foil)$2 – $5Tears easily and rodents can chew through it; installs quickly in oddly shaped areas
Flexible insulated$2 – $6Prone to mold and mildew; excellent for short runs
Fiberglass or fiberboard$4 – $7Lightweight and easy to install; can create air quality issues
Sheet metal (galvanized steel)$4 – $12Standard 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 – $16Excellent for exposed areas as an architectural design element

Adding Vents

Adding a vent costs around $200 to $500 per vent, depending on how close it is to the existing ductwork. It also lowers the efficiency of your HVAC system. You may need to install extra vents when you upgrade to a more powerful HVAC system.

Insulation

Insulating existing ductwork costs around $1,000 to $3,000 and up to $5,000 for larger homes.

  • It's best to insulate when installing new ducts, as it'llcost up to twice as much later. 

  • Expect it to run about $1–$6 per square foot, depending on how complex and accessible the job is. 

  • Insulating ducts increases energy efficiency by 15%–$30%. 

Asbestos and Mold

Homes with ductwork prior to the mid-1980s may contain asbestos in the insulation. While not harmful when intact and undisturbed, it needs to be abated professionally if found. It's usually seen as a white fibrous material around the outside ducts. If you suspect asbestos, get an inspection immediately.

Mold can get in ducts when you don’t clean your ductwork regularly and your home doesn't use a filter. Although naturally occurring in most environments, some mold types need to be abated professionally. 

Permits

HVAC permits cost around $250 to $400 total. You’ll often need these for any HVAC installation, but inspections and costs vary by location. Check with your local building code enforcement agency for details. 

Repairs

After installing ducts, you'll need to repair, replace, or install new drywall or ceilings, which adds to your budget. You can also leave them exposed, with many options available for painting, powder coating, or making the ducts part of the industrial appeal. 

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Installing Ducts and HVAC Systems

HVAC system installation costs around $9,000 to $25,000 total, including the heat, AC, and ducts. New ductwork installation costs around $1,500 to $7,000, depending on your home size. You'll pay slightly less if you get all three done simultaneously. If you're looking to get central air or forced heating at the same time, pros often lump the estimate for this additional work together.

HVAC System Installation Average Cost Range Total Average Cost Range Including Ductwork
Total system (heat, AC, and ducts)$9,000 – $25,000Included
Central air conditioning$3,800 – $7,500$6,800 – $15,000
Furnace or forced air$2,800 – $6,800$5,800 – $14,300
Heat pump$4,200 – $7,500$7,200 – $15,000

Adding Central Air Conditioning

Central air conditioning installation costs around $3,800 to $7,500, including $2,000 to $5,000 for the unit. This system uses a thermostat to maintain a steady indoor temperature and ideal humidity for every room. If you already have a furnace, it can usually use the same ductwork and air handler.

Upgrading to Forced Heat

Upgrading to forced air heat, which uses ducts and vents, is common in newer homes and remodels. This system runs more effectively and efficiently than older technology, like baseboard heating or radiators.

Ductwork Repair Cost

HVAC service technician changing dirty air filter
Photo: Ilja / Adobe Stock

Duct repair costs around $200 to $700 for most projects, although you may pay more for complicated tasks. Repairs often increase energy efficiency. Repairing specific parts of a system, such as the air distribution unit or individual vents, is not uncommon over the lifetime of a home.

Repair Type Average Cost Range Frequency
Minor repairs$200 – $700As needed
Air duct cleaning$300 – $500Every 2 – 5 years
Duct sealing$250 – $2,000As needed
Duct armor$2,000 – $10,000Once

Duct Sealing Cost

Duct sealing costs around $250 to $2,000, depending on your home size and the condition of the system. This job involves testing it for leaks, identifying their locations, and closing them with sealant or tape. 

Duct Armor Cost

This product is a spray coating that goes inside your existing system to clean, seal, and restore it. Duct armor costs around $2,000 to $10,000. Homeowners may be more likely to choose this as an alternative to major demolition in the basement or foundation.

Duct Maintenance and Cleaning

Air duct and vent cleaning costs$300 to $500 on average. Most homeowners should consider this service every two to five years. If you replace your HVAC air filters once per season, you may be able to go longer without cleaning.

Professional cleaning includes the supply and return air ducts, diffusers, grilles, exchangers, coils, fans, drip pans, and vents. This can clear out dust, mold, and pollen.

DIY vs. Hire a Professional Duct Installer

Hiring a professional installer costs $5 to $10 per linear foot in labor, but installing ducts isn’t good DIY work. It requires experience and licenses to install them correctly to handle airflow and your home’s heating and cooling needs. A professional installation means even heating and cooling throughout your home. The project takes a skilled pro one to two days to complete. If you try to do it as a DIY job, it may take a week or longer.

If you’re ready to find an HVAC contractor near you, remember to:

  • Read ratings and reviews to narrow down the list of candidates.

  • Contact at least three pros.

  • Request a detailed estimate.

FAQs

How often should you replace ductwork?

Most ductwork products last 10 to 25 years. Sheet metal can last a lifetime when cleaned and maintained properly. Faulty installation often results in leaks or damage that require replacement sooner.

Can flex duct be used in a crawl space?

You can use flexible duct material in a crawl space if it has a vapor barrier. This prevents water leaks and may offer some protection against rodents. However, you’ll likely want to insulate it. 

How long does it take to install ductwork?

Installing ductwork takes one to two days for a pro. If they’re replacing old material, demoing existing ducts might take an extra day.

Do you need to replace ductwork when replacing an AC unit?

You don’t need to replace ductwork when you get a new AC unit unless it’s damaged.

How do you know when you need new ductwork?

You’ll want new ductwork when:

  • Adding to the home

  • Feeling uneven heating throughout your home

  • Upgrading from flexible to rigid ducts

  • Adding central heating or AC to your home

  • Increasing the size or power of your central heating or AC unit

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