Our guide on starting an air duct cleaning business covers all the essential information to help you decide if this business is a good match for you. Learn about the day-to-day activities of an air duct cleaning business owner, the typical target market, growth potential, startup costs, legal considerations, and more!
Start an air duct cleaning business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Air Duct Cleaning Business
- Form your Air Duct Cleaning Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Air Duct Cleaning Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Air Duct Cleaning Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Air Duct Cleaning Business
- Get Air Duct Cleaning Business Insurance
- Define your Air Duct Cleaning Business Brand
- Create your Air Duct Cleaning Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your air duct cleaning business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Air Duct Cleaning Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening an air duct cleaning business?
Starting a residential air duct cleaning business costs about $6,000, and a commercial air duct cleaning business costs about $10,000 to open. Most of these costs go towards equipment that is needed to clean air ducts, which includes a vacuum collection system, agitation and cleaning tools, an air compressor, a wet/dry vacuum with HEPA filtration and duct accessing tools. Business owners also need sanitizer, coil cleaner, personal safety equipment and miscellaneous tools (e.g. a ladder and hand tools), but these cost less than the other equipment.
The above figures don’t include a vehicle, which is also necessary. Business owners either need a trailer to tow their equipment in or a truck that can fit everything. Most business owners, however, keep their startup costs low by using a vehicle or trailer they already have.
What are the ongoing expenses for an air duct cleaning business?
The ongoing expenses for air duct cleaning businesses are fairly minimal. They include expenses for fuel to get to and from customers’ sites, maintenance for the business’ trailer or truck, and supplies, like sanitizer and coil cleaner.
Who is the target market?
Air duct cleaning businesses frequently clean individuals’ residential HVAC systems, but their ideal customers are businesses. Cleaning systems in commercial buildings takes longer, so air duct cleaning business owners can charge more. Additionally, businesses that own commercial buildings frequently can afford to pay more than individual residents for air duct cleanings.
How does an air duct cleaning business make money?
An air duct cleaning business makes money by charging customers to clean their HVAC systems’ air ducts. Most businesses charge a set price per cleaning rather than an hourly rate.
How much can you charge customers?
Most air duct cleanings cost between $300 and $500. On average, businesses charge $35 per vent cleaned. Cleaning the HVAC system in a house that has 12 vents, for example, would cost $410 ($35 x 12 vents).
How much profit can an air duct cleaning business make?
A typical air duct cleaning takes about three hours, so business owners can often complete two cleanings a day. At this rate, a fully booked business could bring in revenue between $3,000 and $5,000 each week. Even after taking out an employee’s wages, advertising costs and ongoing expenses, the business owner could be left with a decent profit.
How can you make your business more profitable?
An air duct cleaning business can increase its revenue by either offering additional HVAC services or partnering with a local business that does. An HVAC company in the area may be willing to pay a commission for any work that’s referred to them.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your air duct cleaning business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Most states require air duct cleaners to have a mechanical contractor license. To obtain such a license, applicants must have either relevant education (typically a bachelor’s degree) or experience in the industry. This will qualify them to take the Mechanical Contractor License Exam, which they must pass. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Air duct cleaning businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example service agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your air duct cleaning business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Air Duct Cleaning Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Air Duct Cleaning Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market an air duct cleaning business
Since most air duct cleaning businesses, at least when they’re first starting out, serve a relatively small geographic area, ads in local outlets can be effective marketing tools. Radio stations, newspapers and even local deal books can be good places to purchase ads.
How to keep customers coming back
Air duct cleaning businesses can distinguish themselves by simply being courteous to customers. Showing up on time, wearing booties indoors and cleaning up after a job is finished will set a business apart from many others.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are especially qualified for starting an air duct cleaning business, as they already have the technical knowledge that’s necessary to clean air ducts. Anyone who is mechanically inclined, however, can learn what they need to know about HVAC systems.
It also helps to be self-motivated, as business owners often are working by themselves when cleaning air ducts.
Finally, this is a business that can be started while working another job, as cleanings can be scheduled around other obligations. A business owner who has a traditional day job, for example, can perform cleanings during the evenings and on weekends.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an air duct cleaning business?
A business owner of an air duct cleaning business will spend much of their day cleaning air ducts, which is hands-on work that involves running tools and brushes through the ducts of HVAC systems. When not actually cleaning ducts, business owners will spend time driving to and from customer’s locations, scheduling appointments and maintaining tools.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful air duct cleaning business?
An air duct cleaning business owner must have an in-depth knowledge of HVAC systems. Those who don’t have experience in this field can take online and classroom courses through the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). The NADCA also offers two certifications for air duct cleaners: an air systems cleaning specialist (ACSC) certification and a certified ventilation inspector (CVI) certification.
What is the growth potential for an air duct cleaning business?
An air duct cleaning business may be a one-person operation that serves a single city or town, or it can be a large company that has many locations. AirDuct Clean, for example, is a regional company with franchises throughout Michigan. Ductz is a national company with franchises in many states.
According to a 2005 EPA report, the air duct cleaning industry’s annual revenue from air duct cleanings was $4 billion, and “building remediation for indoor air quality” brought in another $3.4 billion annually. Since this report was released, these numbers have likely increased.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an air duct cleaning business?
The air duct cleaning industry can be competitive, especially with larger HVAC companies offering discounted cleanings and inspections. To survive in the industry, business owners must have a solid business plan. There are several resources available for developing a business plan. One is an ebook, Air Duct Vent Cleaning -- Sample Business Plan Template.
How and when to build a team
Business owners don’t have to hire employees, but some decide to hire one employee fairly early on because having two people to work on cleanings can make jobs go much faster. Business owners that want to grow their company often hire more employees once they’re fully booked every week.