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Ductwork Cost

Ductwork Cost

National average
$1,800 - $3,300
(60 linear feet of aluminum ductwork, insulation & 5 vents)
Low: $1,050

(30 lf non-metallic ductwork, simple layout & 4 vents)

High: $5,150

(90 lf sheet metal ductwork, complex layout, insulation & 6 ornamental vents)

Cost to install ductwork varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from air-conditioning and heating contractors in your city.

The average cost of installing ductwork is $2,000.

In this guide

Cost Factors of Installing Ductwork
Ductwork Installation
Installation vs Replacement of Ductwork
Materials
Other Materials
Vents
Labor of Ductwork Installation
Enhancements
Additional Considerations
FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Install Ductwork?

If you have central air conditioning or forced hot air in your home, or you’re considering the installation of either of these, you need ducts for the heated or cooled air to travel along. Ducts allow the passage of air through your home from your HVAC system to the vents in each room. Without ducts, air could not travel consistently to all areas of your house at once. There are many factors that can impact the cost of your project such as the size of your home and its layout.

Installing ductwork costs, on average, $1,800 - $3,300 with the average homeowner spending around $2,000 on the professional installation of 60 feet of aluminum ducts, insulation, and five vents.

Visualizing ductwork cost

Visualizing ductwork cost


Ductwork Installation

Ductwork installation costs
National average cost$2,000
Average range$1,800 - $3,300
Minimum cost$1,050
Maximum cost$5,150


Cost Factors of Installing Ductwork

There are a lot of factors that can determine what the total cost of your project will be. The first is size. Larger homes will need more ducts and more vents than a smaller home. This is true whether you have multiple rooms or an open floor plan. The layout of the ducts may also play a role in how much you’ll pay. Some homes without existing ductwork may need to run them through closets or between floors in unconventional ways, which can raise the cost of the project.

Ducts can also be made of a range of materials from galvanized steel to insulated fiberglass duct board. Each material will have its own cost per foot, so choosing a different material can cause your total to rise or fall.

The type of HVAC system you have may also influence costs, as you may need more or fewer returns or there may be recommendations by the manufacturer that can increase materials and costs.

Finally, the type of project and service you’re having done can impact costs. New installation in an unfinished home will have a different cost than a new installation in an existing home. Replacement costs will also be different depending on the location and accessibility of the ducts. And if you only have a section repaired or replaced, this will have its own set of costs.

Ductwork Installation

Ductwork installation will almost always take place in your attic. Contractors will plan the lines of ductwork needed according to your lighting, then cut the ducting to fit the planned lengths. Joints 1 are attached, and the ducting is connected to vents and your HVAC system.

Expect to pay $35-$55 per linear foot (including labor and materials). This amounts to an average of $1,000-$5,000 for a typical home. An average single-family home needs anywhere from 30 to 90 linear feet of ducting, but the specific total length depends on your home’s unique layout. You need to replace your old ductwork if it has leaks, cracks, or is generally in poor condition.

The following are the most common home HVAC systems that require ductwork:

The same ductwork installed for heating systems can also be used for air-conditioning.

Installation vs Replacement of Ductwork

Installation of new ducts in a home that has never had ductwork before is a more involved process than simply replacing or working on an existing system. In new construction, installing new ducts is fairly simple and straightforward, because the ducts can be put in before walls and floors are finished, making the installation easy. It’s therefore usually less expensive, closer to $1,200-$1,500.

Installing ducts in a home that does have finished walls and floors, but no existing ducts is a more involved process. Holes for vents and returns must be cut in walls, floors, and ceilings. Ducts need to be run often through and under floors, and if this isn’t possible the installer may need to go through attics, crawlspaces, closets, and beneath stairs. This can raise the cost of the installation significantly, with starting costs closer to $4,000-$5,000 for the same amount of ductwork.

In a replacement situation, you’re usually removing old ducts that may be leaking and replacing them with new ducts in the same configuration. This is usually faster than installing ducts in a home that has finished interiors but no existing ducts. The costs are usually around $2,000 for 60 feet of ducts.

You’ll know if a replacement is needed if you find that your energy bills are suddenly increasing, rooms are not as comfortable - warm or cool - as they once were, rooms are different temperatures from one another, or rooms in your home are becoming increasingly dusty. These are all signs that your ducts may be in need of repair, sealing or replacement.

Materials

The average cost of ducting is $16-$19 per 10 linear feet. It’s recommended that you buy a few more linear feet than you need. General guidelines are:

  • 10 linear feet - 2 extra
  • 30 linear feet - 3 extra
  • 50 linear feet - 4 extra
  • 70 linear feet - 5 extra
  • 100 linear feet - 7 extra

The material type of your ducting has an effect on the total materials cost. Common material types and their uses are laid out in the table below:

MaterialInformationPrice per linear foot

Flexible non-metallic

Orange flexible non-metallic ductwork

Good for winding through complex spaces

Lightweight

Can be prone to tearing

$1-$2

Flexible aluminum

Flexible aluminum ductwork

Good for winding through complex spaces

Lightweight

$1-$4

Sheet metal

Sheet metal ductwork installed on a ceiling

Strong but not easily insulated

Rigid

Best for straight lines.

$1.50-$6

Fiberglass duct board

Fiberglass duct board installed on an attic insulation

Easy to cut and make rectangle or square shapes

Pre-insulated

Best for straight lines where temperature control is needed

$4.50-$6


Shapes: There are several shapes you can find ducting in: round, oval, spiral, rectangular. Shape choice depends on the nature of the space you are installing the ductwork in and what will fit best there.

Other Materials

Elbows 2, joints 1, and other minor attachments for ducting generally cost $5-$25, with larger pieces having prices at the higher end of that range. Duct fans can cost $30 or more. Return air drops can cost over $300. Foil sealing tape costs $25 per 60’ roll.

Insulated duct wrap costs $40 per 60’ roll. Flexible ducting with built-in 3 insulation typically costs $1.30-$2.50 per linear foot.

Vents

Your ductwork installation will likely entail the addition or replacement of connected air vents in your walls. This is where the air will be distributed into and out of the rooms. Vents can cost $6-$25, with large and decorative vents costing more. Vent filters cost $3-$4 for 12-packs.

Labor of Ductwork Installation

Installing ductwork is a difficult and labor-intensive job that should be done by a professional. In addition to the actual installation, part of that labor is understanding the best positions for the ducts and vents, and how many returns are needed to allow air to circulate back to the HVAC unit.

Every installation begins with a computer-generated plan that calculates how many ducts, vents, and returns are necessary for the home. If this is a new installation, the ducts are roughed in by cutting the necessary holes for vents and in joists to make room. In a replacement, the old ducts are removed, then the areas evaluated to make sure the new ducts can be installed there, and if not, any rough work is done to modify.

The ducts are installed beginning at your HVAC unit or furnace, attaching the ducts to the start collars. The ducts are run according to the plan, with flexible sections and tape being used as needed to help seal and accommodate the ducts. They’re attached at each vent or return, and vent covers are glued into place using silicone.

The ducts are sealed as needed to help prevent air leaks, with each piece folding back over itself, depending on the type of duct used, and caps being placed over ends. Elbows are used to allow branches to move off the mainline and for returns to carry air back to the HVAC system.

The entire process can be very time consuming, taking 2 - 3 days for a whole-house installation, particularly if this is a new installation and not replacement of existing ducts. The replacement may take 1 - 2 days, assuming no major modifications must be made.

HVAC professionals usually charge $85-$95, making the labor portion of this job around $1,345 on average of the $2,000 total.

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Heat pump

Heat pumps are an efficient way to heat your home. While air-to-air pumps do not use ducts, geothermal pumps do. The cost to add a heat pump to your home is around $7,500 on average.

Central Air Conditioning

Central air conditioning is one appliance that makes use of ducts to cool the whole home at once. If you already have ducts in your home or are having them added, you can install central air conditioning as well for $7,200 on average.

Duct Sealing

If your ducts are leaking air, then they could be losing energy or causing your HVAC system to work too hard. Sealing your ducts helps prevent this, and may make your system more efficient. It costs around $275 on average to seal your ducts.

Duct Armor

Duct Armor is a rubberized liner that can be installed or sprayed inside your ducts. It helps prevent air leaks, as well as transmissions of allergens like dust. It has costs ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the size and condition of your ducts.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • DIY. DIY can be done, but it’s recommended that you hire an HVAC professional to handle the installation. Poor installation can have a bad effect on the system’s efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, systems can lose between 25%-40% of performance efficiency as a result of poor installation.
  • Layout. Homes with strange or complex layouts can cost more, around $5,000-$15,000. The same goes for homes that have no existing ductwork system and weren’t designed to contain one. In such a scenario, it may be less expensive to install a ductless HVAC system ($2,500).
  • Regulations and permits. Check your local building codes to see what requirements there are for ductwork. Also, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure your project doesn’t void your contract. Your local authorities may require a permit before work can begin. Many HVAC contractors will take care of permit acquisition for you. Permit fees are $100 or (often) less. Keep in mind that specific fees vary by location; some counties or states may charge more.
  • Repair. Sometimes you may be able to repair sections of ducts, rather than replacing them. This can have a range of costs from $200-$2,000, depending on the condition of the ducts and the type of repair needed.
  • Hazardous materials. If your ducts are old or you are cutting into walls or areas that were built prior to 1980, you may need to have areas tested for hazardous materials such as asbestos. Testing costs on average $3,000.
  • Maintenance. Air duct cleaning should be done every 3-5 years to keep your HVAC system safe, clean, and energy-efficient. If you notice that the vent filters or air returns are dusty, and can spot debris in your vent, your air ducts are in need of cleaning. A professional air duct cleaning service for a 1500 sq. ft. home typically costs $300-$1,000.
  • Structural changes. There may be times during the installation of new ductwork in an existing home that you may need to modify or change existing framing, surfacing, HVAC, electrical, or plumbing systems. Speak to your contractor about how these may impact your project and project costs.

FAQ

  • How long does it take to install ductwork?

The average ductwork installation can take 1 - 3 days.

  • How do you connect ductwork together?

This depends on the type of ductwork and can be done by folding the ducts onto one another, using tape, connectors, or sealants.

  • When should ductwork be replaced?

If your ducts have several leaks or holes or the system needs updating, the ducts should be replaced.

  • How much does it cost to install new ductwork?

The average cost to install new ductwork is around $2,000.

  • How much does it cost to install central air and ductwork?

The total cost of this project would be around $9,200 for both central air and new ducts.

  • Can I install my own ductwork?

It is not advised that homeowners install their own ducts, as this does take special knowledge and planning.

  • How much does it cost to install ductwork in an old house?

If the house is existing and this is not a replacement job, costs can be up to $5,000.

  • How do you know when you need new ductwork?

You may see signs of needing new ducts if your energy bills increase, your home is not as warm or cool as it has been in the past, or if you begin seeing a large amount of dust coming from vents.

  • How much does it cost to install an HVAC system?

New HVAC systems have a range of costs, but you can expect to pay $9,000-$12,000 on average.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Joints: A fold, line, or groove where two pieces of material join together
glossary term picture Elbow 2 Elbows: An L-shaped fitting used to connect two straight pipes to enable their flow to go around a corner
glossary term picture Built-in 3 Built-in: An item of furniture, such as a bookcase or set of cabinets, that is built directly into the structure of the room. Built-ins are therefore customized to the room and not detachable

Cost to install ductwork varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

picture related to the guide

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Akron, OH
-6%
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Argyle, TX
+32%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Broken Arrow, OK
-17%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Charleston, SC
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
College Station, TX
-15%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbia, SC
-10%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Corpus Christi, TX
+4%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dalton, GA
-28%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Eugene, OR
-11%
Fayetteville, NC
-20%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Frederick, MD
0%
Fremont, CA
+35%
Gasport, NY
-11%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Hagerstown, MD
-14%
Harrisburg, PA
+2%
Hialeah, FL
-2%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntsville, AL
-17%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Little Rock, AR
0%
Littleton, CO
+2%
Livingston, NJ
+32%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Meriden, CT
+21%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Modesto, CA
-12%
New York, NY
+77%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Labor cost in your zip code
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