How to Vent a Clothes Dryer Efficiently

ByMarc Silberberg


There are many different models and price ranges to check out before purchasing a new clothes dryer. Some models look so sleek and modern, others are geared to large families and high-capacity loads. When a buyer finally decides on a new dryer the installation is not as easy as one would assume.

If this is a first-time purchase and you had plenty of time to shop around, you are one of the luckier ones. More often than not, a new clothes dryer is bought in a panic when the old one breaks down all of a sudden. Then the homeowner has little time to choose and must rely on either his repairman’s recommendation or the choice of his local store and what model is readily available. Especially with large families when that laundry from the washing machine is waiting impatiently to be dried and with the school year starting those extra pairs of socks, underwear, pants and shirts will get depleted fairly quickly.

Fine, you have made your choice and your dryer is delivered and ready to be installed. Wait, what are those extra charges that your installer is talking about, dryer vent hoses and cutting a hole in your outside wall? If you are fortunate to have your laundry room located near an exterior wall in a private home the installation of an outside dryer vent is much easier. There are more challenging scenarios such as the laundry room located in the center of the house or if you live in an apartment house the question is, where will the dryer vent be placed and how will it vent to the outside?

Exterior Dryer Vents

In a private home the builder has the opportunity to place the laundry room with the washer and dryer attached to an exterior wall. The vent could be installed either by making a hole from the interior of the home to the exterior and enclosing the flex vent (accordion like material) or other appropriate outside metals that can withstand the outside elements and the pressure of the venting system as it pushes the air out of the home and into the atmosphere. With a standard exterior vent, you would assume that there will be no danger of fire because all the venting is done outdoors. However, there are dangers with such a venting system because of different problems that come up such as a clogged vent or a hole in the venting tube to name just two of many concerns that pop up with outdoor venting systems.

In the case when drilling for an exterior dryer vent is not feasible the next best thing is a window dryer vent. The window is opened, and two side panels are placed on each side of the vent. The vent will be made of twenty-four-gauge galvanized steel and will have some type of aluminum back draft damper that should prevent cold air from entering from outside. It is a good idea to also add an enlarged outside hood to lessen any chance of airflow backlash. After all the installation is done simply close the window and make sure you have insulation to prevent drafts in the winter and cold air escaping in the summer.

An outdoor venting system should be checked periodically by a reputable professional dryer vent cleaning company to make sure that there are no openings or clogs in the tubing that will make the dryer work less efficiently and can cause a fire. These companies specialize in this type of lint removal and will be able to judge if your vent can just be cleaned or it needs to be replaced. Sometimes wetness creeps in from the outside causing the lint to dampen and get stuck in the tube and then not exiting in a smooth manner to the outside of the house. If you are noticing that your dryer is not working at its best even though you diligently clean the lint trap, it could be that the exterior venting system needs to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced.

Indoor Dryer Vents

Even though ideally dryer venting should be done through the exterior of the home if possible there are some surprising benefits if only indoor venting is possible.

1) In summer an indoor vent will increase the temperature in the home but in the winter this will be an advantage and save you money on your heating bills. As the dryer heats up the heat escapes and circulates in the home adding additional warmth.

2) The moisture that escapes while the clothes are drying will end up inside your home when using an indoor vent and this extra humidity is advantageous for both the outer part of the body, the skin and the inner part of the body, the respiratory system. Many people purchase expensive home humidifiers for just this reason. The increased humidity is only beneficial in a dry climate but if you are living in a humid city or country too much moisture can damage your home. No one wants that much humidity that mold and mildew can set in.

3) Many apartment dwellers who are fortunate to have the allowance by their landlords for a dryer won’t have access to an outside vent. Some complexes such as condos will share one dryer vent among several families. These shared dryer vents lead to the roof which must be cleaned regularly, or they will become a safety hazard since the tubing has a long way to go to get to the roof to vent outside.

What About Attic Vents?

An attic dryer vent is permitted by the International Residential Code, but it must continue through the roof. If the vent stops in the attic all kinds of messy and dangerous things can occur such as ruining the house frame, damaging the insulation and if clogged cause fire. The attic should be checked regularly to assure that the vent is venting properly since unlike a typical private home the vent is too high on the roof to be checked easily by the homeowner.

Can A Dryer Be Set Up in the Garage?

Some folks just don’t have the space for a completely separate laundry room in their home. When a couple gets married and it’s just the two of them it’s fine to have a stackable washer dryer either in the kitchen or bathroom and this type of system does not take up too much space. /With a stackable unit, laundry has to be washed and folded efficiently since there is no separate place to hide the clutter. Even if there are some closet type doors to hide the washer and dryer, laundry, and other paraphernalia, it’s still not the same as having a separate laundry room.

This is when homeowners may decide to place their washer and dryer in the garage if they do not use it to park their vehicle. It seems like a keen idea with less drilling and construction outside and inside the home. Beware of some pitfalls in this type of venting.

A clothes dryer heats the air and takes out the moisture from your clothes, towels, and linens, sending the moisture into the atmosphere. Why would a homeowner choose the garage as an alternative for their laundry duties? Some people are sensitive to noise and keeping a noisy dryer away from the main rooms in the house will be an advantage to exposed ears.

So, yes you can put the dryer in the garage if you install a small hole in the garage wall or in the window if present. Otherwise, keeping a gas dryer in the garage can bring deadly carbon monoxide fumes into the home just like a car with the motor turned on. Make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in the garage to make sure that your gas dryer is not leaking this deadly poisonous gas.

No Vent at All – Is This a Possibility?

The most conventional way to run a dryer without a vent is using something called, Indoor Dryer Lint Trap which is basically a detachable filter that is attached to the end of the flex vent located behind the dryer.

Final Words

Installing a dryer in your home does not stop when the dryer is plugged in for electric appliances or the gas line attached for a gas dryer. Keeping the venting hose clear so that the lint and wetness escapes outdoors is the most critical element for the safety and efficiency of your dryer. No matter where you live, an apartment, condo, private house or multi family dwelling there are numerous ways to get your dryer vented correctly.

Once the vent is installed either on an outside wall, window, attic or any other safe place, the user must be diligent making sure that there is no buildup or clogging of lint in the vent tubing. Using superior tubing whatever it is made of is the first step, however, keeping an eye and ear on what’s going on while the dryer is in use is essential for your dryer to work efficiently. You can have the most expensive and top-rated dryer but if your clothing is not drying at a normal time frame, it could very well be your vents that have become clogged due to a combination of water and lint which become attached to parts of the hose and can only be safely removed with professional tools or better yet a professional vent specialist.

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