October 11, 2018

The HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system is like the veins of your building, carrying climate control to all corners. Depending on the region of the world you call home, that climate control can range from being a luxury to a flat out necessity. Due to its very nature, installing or replacing an HVAC system can be daunting with component tasks including ductwork installation to transfer the climate, electronic devices to control the system, and the system itself.

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The ductwork can be particularly problematic, as it needs to be able to reach all parts of the building in question, which can make it run into a bevy of potential problems, such as:

Needing to remove or alter existing framing, wall structure, wall surface (especially awful with plaster walls), as well as maneuvering the new system around any existing plumbing, electrical, or other HVAC system.
Discovery of pre-existing, latent hazardous construction materials such as asbestos or lead–which can require its own extensive removal and repair process.
Some areas require permits and inspections, depending on the region and work to be done.

What Is the Cost to Install HVAC System With Ductwork?
One of the most pressing concerns with any HVAC work is the costs involved as it has a justified reputation for tending to be very expensive. Here’s some ways to estimate the potential expense to you.

How to Estimate Ductwork Cost
There are a few general guidelines that you can use to estimate the cost of installing new ductwork.

Materials and their delivery, including tax and transportation costs.
Labor costs.
The act of preparing the site of the work, which includes protecting or moving everything in the area.
Some common factors that increase the cost of your project are the number of floors of the structure as well as its age. The more floors and the older the building, the higher you can expect the cost of installation to be.

In addition, there are sometimes extra costs that can pop up, such as if your home or building has an unusual floor plan and requires special design work to make the ducts fit.

Related: How Can I Tell If My Air Ducts Are Leaking?

Cost to Install Ductwork
Here are some rough average numbers to expect for residential work.

According to Fixr.com, ductwork including labor and materials will cost between $35-55 per linear foot, and an “average single-family home needs 30 to 90 linear feet of ducting.”

The cost also depends somewhat on the type of ducting used.

Types of Ducting
The cheapest is flexible non-metallic, which will run between $1-2 per linear foot and is good for winding around tight corners and lightweight but can tear easily and need to be repaired more often as a result.

The most expensive option is fiberglass duct board, which costs between $4.50-6 per linear foot. It comes pre-insulated and is particularly suited to long, straight sections due to its ease of forming square or rectangular shapes.

In the middle, you could choose flexible aluminum, costing between $1-4 per linear foot, or sheet metal, which costs between $1.50-6 per linear foot. Aluminum is another lightweight winding option while sheet metal is good for straight sections and is strong but challenging to insulate.

There are also some other materials which must be considered as well, such as curving joint pieces and elbows, the vents themselves, and the cost of labor. Labor alone can run between $50-70 per hour, with an average project lasting two or three days.

Related: Air Duct Cleaning: Why Is It Important?

Commercial Ductwork Installation Cost
While many of these considerations are with residential costs in mind, the factors remain the same for a commercial space. One merely needs to upscale the calculations for the increased size and capacity requirements. Aim high: commercial spaces may require stronger, and thus more expensive, ducting.

Contemplating a major project like an HVAC installation or rework is never easy, but hopefully this information helped with your decision making process. One thing to keep in mind throughout the process is to consider just how important your environment truly is. A poorly installed or damaged HVAC system can cause a lot more problems than just making a hot day even more sweltering or a cold one particularly frigid; it can also cause allergy and mold problems as well as unnecessarily high utility bills. As creatures in many ways defined by our environments, it is worth taking care of yours!

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