How Much Does It Cost to Install Ductwork?

National Average Range:
$1,900 - $6,000
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Reviewed by Cristina Miguelez. Written by

Ducts are part of central air and forced heating systems that allow air to flow through your home from your HVAC system to the vents in each room. These ducts ensure consistent heating and cooling of all areas of the home. Installing ducts will have various costs to consider, including factors like the size and layout of your home and its layout. Costs will be affected by whether you are replacing or upgrading existing ducts or installing a duct system in new construction. Replacements are generally more affordable and easier than new installations, but that can vary. Due to rising material costs, it is projected that behind-the-wall ductwork installation services will increase through 2023 and beyond. Homeowners should expect increases of 2% to 5%, which may also be impacted by trade labor shortages.

The national average cost for installing ductwork is between $1,900 and $6,000, with most homeowners spending around $4,000 for the professional installation of 300 linear feet of replacement aluminum ducts, insulation, and 10 vents and 2 returns. The low cost for this project is $550 for the installation of 50 linear feet of new aluminum ducts in an addition with one vent. The project’s high cost is $12,000 to install 300 linear feet of new ductwork retrofit into an existing home with no previous ducts, including 10 vents, 2 returns, and insulation.

Ductwork Cost

Ductwork Installation Costs
National average cost$4,000
Average range$1,900-$6,000

Ductwork Cost by Project Range

50 linear feet of new aluminum ducts in an addition with one vent
Average Cost
300 linear feet of replacement aluminum ductwork, insulation, 10 vents, and 2 returns
300 linear feet of new duct retrofit into an existing home with 10 vents and 2 returns with insulation

Ductwork Cost per Square Foot

The average cost of installing ductwork ranges from $0.50 to $3.00 per sq.ft., with a total project cost based on the square footage of the house. For example, if you have a 2,000 sq.ft. home, you could anticipate spending $1,000 to $6,000 on the installation of ductwork, depending on several factors, including how much ducting is needed, the ease of installation, the material of the ducting, and whether the installation is on new construction or retrofitting new ductwork in an existing home. Although it is more common for contractors to charge by the linear foot of ductwork for installation, this is sometimes used for rates when the exact linear footage of ductwork needed is unknown or a contractor chooses it as a better option.

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Cost of Ductwork per Linear Foot

The cost of ductwork per linear foot averages $10 to $35. Most contractors charge by the linear foot for ductwork installation, with costs available for materials only and including installation. Most people choose to have the same contractor provide and install their new ducts. So, the installed cost is usually the most relevant and is reflected here. The materials used impact the cost per linear foot so consider whether you are doing a new installation or an existing replacement. If you are not sure how much ductwork you need, your contractor can help you figure out the footage to give you an accurate cost estimate.

Ductwork Cost by Type of Project

The project type and service you choose impact costs. A new installation in an unfinished home has a different cost than a new installation in an existing home. Replacement costs also differ depending on the duct location and accessibility. And if you only have a section repaired or replaced, this has another set of costs. The home size also plays a role in how much ductwork you require and your overall costs. The costs below are based on the average needs for a 2,000 sq.ft. home. Homes that are larger or smaller may have different costs.

Ductwork cost by project: install ducts in an unfinished home, replace existing ducts, and retrofit ducts into an existing home

Ductwork cost by project: install ducts in an unfinished home, replace existing ducts, and retrofit ducts into an existing home

ProjectCost (Labor Included)
Unfinished Home$1,900 - $4,000
Replacement$3,000 - $6,000
Existing Home Insulation$12,000 - $18,000

New Ductwork Installation Cost in an Unfinished Home

The cost of installing ducts in an unfinished home averages $1,900 to $4,000. In new construction, installing new ducts is fairly straightforward because the ducts can be put in before the walls and floors are finished, making the installation easy. If the home will have ducts, space can be left for them, which makes installation easier. In a finished home, there is often no space for the ducts, making it costly. But in an unfinished home, the ducts can be planned from the beginning. This means you can have a more efficient and optimized system, with ducts that are large enough to handle more air than may fit in an existing home.

Cost to Replace Ductwork

The cost to replace existing ducts is between $3,000 and $6,000 on average. In a replacement, you usually remove old ducts that may be leaking and replace 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. You know if a replacement is needed if you have increasing energy bills, rooms are not as comfortable - warm or cool - as they once were, differing room temperatures, or rooms in your home are increasingly dusty. These are all signs that your ducts may need repair, sealing, or replacement.

Cost to Install Ductwork to a House

The cost to retrofit ducts into an existing home ranges from $12,000 to $18,000. Installing ducts in a home with 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 often need to be run through and under floors, and if this is not possible, the installer may need to go through attics, crawlspaces, closets, and beneath stairs. This can raise the installation cost significantly. It may also be difficult to get ducts of the right size. Larger ducts handle more air, but they also take more space. Often in retrofits, the ducts need to be smaller than optimal to make space for them.

Cost of New Ductwork by Type

he cost of new ductwork by type ranges from $10 to $35 per linear foot. Depending on the home type, your ducts may be visible, hidden, or a combination. It is common for homes to have at least some exposed ducts in the basement or utility room because they move from your HVAC system to the finished rooms of your home. From there, the ducts become concealed in floors, walls, ceilings, closets, and other spaces. In some homes, such as lofts, all the ducts may remain exposed. The cost of installing new ducts fluctuates depending on whether the ducts are exposed or hidden. Hidden ducts are harder to reach, increasing labor costs.

On the other hand, hidden ducts are usually made of thinner, flexible materials, costing less. This may mean that the overlap between the costs can be significant in some cases. You likely will not be billed separately if your home has both exposed and hidden ducts. The entire project will be billed at one averaged rate. The table and subsections below show the average costs of new and existing home installation for exposed and hidden ducts and the details of each.

Cost per linear foot to install exposed and hidden ductwork in a new home and an existing home

Cost per linear foot to install exposed and hidden ductwork in a new home and an existing home

TypeNew Home Cost per Linear Foot (Installed)Existing Home Cost per Linear Foot (Installed)
Exposed$10 - $12$13 - $18
Hidden$11 - $15$16 - $35

Exposed Ductwork Cost

Exposed ductwork costs $10 to $18 a linear foot. This includes the system trunk and the branches that reach the vents. Exposed systems are easier to reach but often have a nicer finish than hidden systems. More care needs to be taken if the system is exposed throughout the home, rather than just in utility spaces. Depending on how much of your system is exposed, your costs could be on the higher end for the entire project. If you want to leave your ductwork exposed, it is recommended to invert in copper ducts, as they create a warm and elegant look. Moreover, since all homes have a section of exposed ductwork, the costs tend to even out when combined with the thinner materials used elsewhere.

Hidden Ductwork Cost

Hidden ductwork costs $11 to $35 per linear foot installed. Most single-family homes have some hidden ductwork. While the beginning of the system is exposed, when it leaves your HVAC equipment, it will be hidden as it approaches the various vents. This means there can be a wide range of costs, mostly due to the different material types and how difficult the ducts are to access. Homes with a lot of insulation or ducts fed through tight spaces can be more difficult to work on, driving costs up. Some areas may be easier to reach, reducing costs.

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Labor Cost of Ductwork Installation

The labor cost for ductwork installation ranges from $5.35 to $7.75 per linear foot for most projects. For retrofits, installation costs can be roughly three times the cost, making the cost to install ductwork for central air and heat between $15 and $21 per linear foot due to the extensive work needed in opening joists and finding the correct way to run the ducts. Installing ductwork is a difficult and labor-intensive job that should be done by a professional. In addition to the 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, and then the areas are evaluated to ensure the new ducts can be installed there. If not, any rough work is done to modify it.

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 using tape to seal and accommodate the ducts. They are 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 duct type used, and caps placed over the 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 to 3 days for a whole-house installation, particularly if this is a new installation and not replacing existing ducts. The replacement may take 1 to 2 days, assuming no major modifications must be made. The biggest difference between a new installation and a replacement is that the walls are usually still open when ducts are installed in new construction, making the process quicker, easier, and less costly.

Duct Replacement Cost by Location

You can anticipate spending between $500 and $7,000 on duct replacement based on its location. Your ductwork may be run through many areas of your home, including the attic, basement, and crawl space. Depending on the home type, you may have different duct types or setups to consider. These things, along with the installation size, ultimately impact the replacement cost. Whether you need to replace the ducts only in a specific area or throughout your home, your costs vary depending on multiple factors. In the table and subsections below, you will see the average costs of the most common locations, considerations of each area, and other details.

Cost to replace the ductwork in an attic, basement, crawl space, mobile home, house, and old house

Cost to replace the ductwork in an attic, basement, crawl space, mobile home, house, and old house

Ductwork LocationReplacement Cost
Attic$500 - $900
Basement$500 - $900
Crawl Space$600 - $1,000
Mobile Home$1,200 - $2,400
House$1,900 - $6,000
Old House$4,000 - $7,000

Cost to Replace Ductwork in an Attic

The cost to replace only the ductwork in the attic of a home is between $500 and $900 on average. Attic ductwork is a common method of getting air to the upper floors of a home. It is also a good choice for retrofitting homes or for smaller spaces where the air conditioner needs to be installed on the roof. This ductwork is usually fairly easy to access and is often exposed. It can be of many different duct types and forms. This depends on whether this is a branch or the main trunk of your line.

Replacing Ductwork in a Basement

The cost to replace the ducts in your basement averages $500 to $900. Ducts in the basement are very common. Many homes have their HVAC system located in the basement, so the ducts originate there, and then move through the rest of the home. Because of this, the ducts are usually exposed. They may be a combination of materials, depending on the job size, or they may only be the trunk portion of the installation and made of sheet metal. The project costs depend on the number of installed ducts there.

Cost to Replace Ductwork in a Crawl Space

The cost of replacing ducts in a crawl space ranges from $600 to $1,000. Crawl spaces are also a logical place to install ductwork, particularly in smaller homes. This space is fairly accessible, although a little bit harder to reach than the attic or basement ducts. This means that the cost to replace ducts in this area is a little higher. Depending on the HVAC system location, you may have one or more branches moving through the crawl space. Rarely, you may also have the main trunk of the system.

Cost to Replace Ductwork in a Mobile Home

The cost to replace the ductwork in a mobile home is between $1,200 and $2,400 on average. Mobile homes do not use returns the way traditional homes do, mostly due to their smaller size. The entire system is smaller, so the HVAC can take air from the outdoors, rather than needing it to circulate back to the unit. This means you need fewer ducts than a traditional home of the same size. In addition, mobile homes tend to be much smaller than the average stick-built home. Combined with the smaller system, this leads to a much lower mobile home ductwork replacement cost.

Cost to Replace Air Ducts in a Home

The cost to replace air ducts in a home ranges from $1,900 to $6,000. Many homes of all types and sizes have air ducts. This is true whether you use forced hot air or central air conditioning in the home. These ducts are usually a mixture of materials, both exposed and hidden. Depending on the home size, duct location, and material used, this can have a very wide cost range. The more difficult the ducts are to reach and the larger the ducts need to be, the higher your overall costs.

Replacing Ductwork in an Old House

Replacing ductwork in an older house averages $4,000 to $7,000. Older homes are frequently more difficult to access than newer homes. The ducts may be retrofitted into the home after it was built, depending on its age. This means they will be placed wherever they can be, inside closets, under stairs, the attic, crawl spaces, and other tight fits. This makes the replacement more time-consuming than in homes where the ducts were put in when the home was built. In addition, in older homes, walls must sometimes be opened to reach the ducts. This can mean higher repair bills to restore the walls once the ducts are in.

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AC Duct Replacement Cost

AC ducts have a replacement cost ranging from $15 to $45 per linear foot, with an additional 25% to 35% added to the project cost for removing old ducts before new ones are installed. The project cost also depends on the material used, the size of the home, and the complexity of the duct system that needs to be put into place. This also depends on whether a new installation is being done in new construction or if you are having an old home retrofitted with new ducts. The average AC duct replacement cost also depends on whether your vents also provide heat and need to be connected to the furnace, as well as other installation factors. Talk to your contractor for more information.

Cost to Install a Furnace and Ductwork

If you are installing a furnace and ductwork at the same time, you can expect to spend between $3,900 and $17,000 on the job, with the extra $2,000 to $11,000 covering the furnace installation. The cost depends on whether the installation is in new construction or an existing home, what type of furnace you choose, and how much ductwork is required. Discounts may be offered for having both jobs done at the same time. You will have to discuss this with your contractor because all providers are different.

Adding a Vent to Existing Ductwork Cost

The cost of adding a vent to existing ductwork ranges from $150 to $250 a vent. Adding a vent is a great idea if you do not receive adequate heat or cooling to a room. Sometimes, this vent may need to be a return vent as well, meaning that it facilitates the air returning to your HVAC system. This helps it run more efficiently and provides better circulation. The total cost of your new vent is determined mostly by the length of the run from the main system to this new branch and how much work is required to install the vent based on its location.

Cost to Insulate Ductwork

Insulating your ductwork helps reduce your overall energy costs. Many new ducts are already insulated, helping them be more efficient over time. Ducts that run through unheated spaces should be insulated, even if they are older ducts, as uninsulated ducts tend to lose heat. This means that some of the energy in the heated or cooled air they carry may leak out through the duct. Therefore, your HVAC system needs to work harder to produce the desired air temperature.

Insulation can be found in several forms, although the most common are fiberglass, mineral wool, and foil-backed mineral wool. The cost to insulate all the ducts in a home is around $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the level of insulation you choose.

Cost per square foot to insulate ductwork with fiberglass, mineral wool, and foil-backed mineral wool

Cost per square foot to insulate ductwork with fiberglass, mineral wool, and foil-backed mineral wool

InsulationAverage Costs per Square Foot (Installed)
Fiberglass$1 - $1.40
Mineral Wool$1.40 - $1.90
Foil-Backed Mineral Wool$1.50 - $2

Rerouting Ductwork Cost

Rerouting or relocating ductwork costs between $35 and $55 a linear foot for materials and labor. Costs are determined by the ductwork type and its current and future locations. The more difficult the ducts are to move, the higher your total costs. In addition, when rerouting through areas that are inaccessible or require you to cut open the walls or ceilings to install the new ducts, your costs will be higher than if the areas are easy to reach. Finally, the amount of ductwork you plan on rerouting also plays a role in your final project costs.

Duct Maintenance

Most ductwork does not require much maintenance from the homeowner. Keep your vents clean and free of any debris, and change the filter on your HVAC system regularly. Doing both of these things helps keep your ducts clean and in good working order. If you have construction in your home at any time, you may want to have your ducts cleaned afterward because construction dust and debris can clog them.

Otherwise, they only need to be cleaned about every 5 to 10 years. If you notice any mold growth, pests, or something blocking the duct, the EPA recommends to have the system cleaned. Moreover, during this cleaning, have them inspected and sealed if necessary to keep them in good condition.

Professional installing air duct

Flex Duct vs Metal Duct Cost

The cost to install flex ducts ranges from $6.50 to $12 per linear foot, while metal ducts cost $12 to $25 per linear foot. Metal ducts make up the trunk of your ductwork. They are what attach to your HVAC system and begin the run to the many branches that will carry the air to the rest of your home. From there, the branches may be made of flexible materials, including aluminum and some types of insulated, recycled plastics. Flexible ducts are good for fitting into narrow areas, bending around corners and obstacles, and feeding through joists. Metal ducts are good for handling larger amounts of airflow at once. In most cases, you will find that your ducts need a combination of both to work efficiently. In the table below, you’ll see the average costs of both types of ducting.

MaterialsCost per Linear Foot (Materials Only)
Flexible Duct$6.50 - $12
Sheet Metal$12 - $25

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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Duct Armor Cost

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

Drop Ceiling Installation

If you have exposed ductwork, one way to conceal it while making sure it is still readily accessible is with a suspended ceiling. Dropped or suspended ceilings use a grid with ceiling tiles suspended in it. To reach the ducts, the tiles are removed. The average cost of this ceiling is between $955 and $1,510.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Shapes. Ducts come in several shapes, including rectangular, spiral, and oval. The duct type and location influence the shape used.
  • DIY. Some parts of a ductwork installation can be done DIY, but it is not recommended. If the ducts are not properly connected, they can leak, reducing your system’s efficiency.
  • Regulations and permits. In most areas, you need a permit when installing new ducts. Check with your contractor and local municipality to find out more information.
  • Repair. If your ducts need repair, it should be done as soon as possible to help prevent rising energy costs. The repair cost varies depending on the type and location, with most repairs falling between $200 and $1,000.
  • Hazardous materials. Very old ducts or insulation in older homes can contain asbestos or other hazardous materials. If you suspect this is the case, have your ducts or insulation tested before beginning.
  • Maintenance. Keep your vents clean, and change your filters regularly to help keep your ducts clean. Have your ducts cleaned as needed to ensure they work properly.
  • Structural changes. Sometimes, new ductwork installation requires cutting into joists or moving plumbing or electrical work. Speak with your contractor to see if this is the case for your home.


  • How long does it take to install ductwork?

The average ductwork installation can take 1 to 3 days, but it may take longer if this is a new installation in an existing home.

  • How do you connect ductwork together?

This depends on the ductwork type and can be done by folding the ducts onto one another, using tape, connectors, or sealants. Most commonly, tape or sealant is used around the joins in the ducts.

  • When should ductwork be replaced?

You should have your ducts tested for efficiency. If they are very leaky, rusting, or have other issues, then it is time to have them replaced.

  • How do you know when you need new ductwork?

You may suspect you need new ducts if you notice that your energy bills are climbing while it becomes harder to heat and cool your home. An inspection and test of your ducts can tell you if this is the case.

  • Can flex duct be used in a crawl space?

This depends on the layout of your ducts, whether this is a trunk or branch, and how big the crawl space is. In most cases, yes, it can be used in this area, but it depends on the situation.

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

Not necessarily. Your ducts should be inspected when installing the new unit. If they are old and leaking, they may need to be replaced.


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

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