Water Leaks & Mold Problems With Your Clothes Dryer

ByMarc Silberberg


Dryer vents: Why do they tend to be so complex? When I purchased my dryer for my new laundry room the instructions were simple enough. Since I was fortunate that I had an outside wall right near where the dryer was being installed, I did not have to worry about complicated venting systems such as a long hose going up through the attic to the outside of the house. That being mentioned, my friend called me last week to inform me that she noticed a pool of water at the bottom of her dryer, and she wanted to avoid calling an expensive repairman. I was quite flattered that she was asking for my advice to help her solve the problem but unfortunately for her, I hadn’t heard of such a problem with a dryer only with a washing machine.

Keeping your dryer vents clean means more than cleaning your lint trap after each load. There is much more going on behind the scenes that meets a typical launderer’s eye. After asking my friend if she cleans her lint trap after each load, I got a bit of a cow when she claimed I was insulting her intelligence. She remarked, “Doesn’t everyone know that not cleaning the lint trap after each load can cause a fire?”

As far as leaking washing machines, I could definitely tell her a story or two about when my children were at the age that they wanted to be independent and do their own laundry. More than one time the clothes were not distributed uniformly around the washer tub causing massive flooding. However, I have not had water buildup under or near my own clothes dryer so I could not help her out with this specific problem although I did advise her to call a professional For those folks who have a leak under their dryer and want to try to fix the problem independently here is some helpful information.

What Are the Reasons That Clothes Dryers Leak Water?

There could many reasons for this to occur and here are some common ones and fixable solutions that come to mind immediately, the vent line not being insulated thoroughly, the vent is old or damaged, the exhaust system is blocked, the water collection system not working or the dryer vent cap of the vent pipe is broken.(The dryer vent cap has a set of flaps that keeps the outside air out when the dryer is off.)

1) Poor insulation: If the leaking occurs in cold weather, then this might be the reason for the problem. This is because warm air from the dryer is blown outside so there must be sufficient insulation when the warm air hits the outside cold air. Water condensation happens when the hot air reaches the cold pipe causing a puddle of water on your laundry room floor. A simple solution might work which is to insulate the entire length of the vent pipe with superior foil duct tape.

2) Exhaust system blockage: As the dryer heats up during a normal cycle it discharges warm air from the drum. This is crucial for the efficient maintenance of the correct temperature for drying of the clothes or whatever else is in the dryer. When there is a buildup of lint it mixes with the moisture turning into a pasty substance which clogs the venting system. Once the blockage grows it will prevent your dryer from releasing the water causing leaking. If you have complete access to your exhaust pipe you can attempt to clean it carefully yourself. Use a narrow brush to remove the pasty substance and lint if present. Your exhaust system should be cleaned once or twice a year depending on the usage of the dryer.

3) Broken water collection mechanism: Some dryers are equipped with a condensation water collection mechanism which pumps away the extra water buildup. There is a small hole in the condenser to where the water is drained. A little container is waiting to catch the water which ultimately gets pumped into the collection system. This issue is more difficult to solve than the two above problems. You can try cleaning all the hoses with a different type of brush such as a strong bristle bottle brush. First, you will need to remove the condensation pump and then you can begin to clean all the hoses checking for holes as you clean. If your water collection mechanism still is not working, it is definitely time to call in a professional.

4) Damaged dryer vent cap and flapper: Not all dryers have flappers but if yours does it will be on the outside at the end of your vent pipe to expel the hot air coming from the dryer while it is working. You will be able to see how the flapper is operating only when the dryer is on. Check if it opens and closes properly. If you see that the flapper is okay it is possible that someone fooled around with it from the outside causing it to stay open and allowing rain, frost, and snow to enter easily. If the dryer vent cap is not work correctly, call in a professional to service or replace it. You don’t want birds or foreign items to get into to your dryer vent duct that can hamper your dryer’s performance and be a potential fire hazard. At least, you will save money and time in that you can tell the serviceman what is wrong.

What Causes Mold in a Dryer Vent?

Another problem that is common with clothes dryers is mold buildup. Take some air, add some moisture and magically thousands of spores are created, and this can be causing a malfunction in your clothes dryer. Here is the main reason for mold in your dryer vent.

Incorrect installation of the dryer vent system: Living in an apartment dwelling could require your dryer to vent through the attic. According to the International Residential Code, the vent should exit through the roof of the attic so that the warm moist air will not get trapped in the attic. When the vent goes through the attic there must be adequate roof flashing which protects the gaps around the vent from allowing water into the attic especially in areas where there is heavy water flow such as hurricanes. If there is not adequate vent flashing mold will grow quickly around the dryer vents because heat and water create the perfect atmosphere for mold.

Once the mold spores begin multiplying, they are not easy to get rid of. There is a product called the Home Exhaust Hood that can be installed inside the house in ten minutes or less. This type of shield frames a weather-tight shield on all four sides of the vent protecting the home from all the natural weather elements be it snow, rain or even wind.

Final Words

It’s truly disappointing and upsetting that the laundry room of your home, the place where things are supposed to get clean could be the perfect place for water leakage and mold buildup. For those folks who have a separate room for doing laundry, this space is an oasis in the home to get your clothes clean and to wash and freshen your bedroom’s linen and your bathroom’s towels. Some folks keep their cleaning fluids in the laundry room so the language that a laundry room speaks is loud and clear, clean, clean, clean.

So how could it be that the very room which stands for cleaning is the very place that water and mold build up? Well, leaking can have to do with mold building up in your dryer’s venting system. If water and lint are mixed, they are the perfect area for mold spores to proliferate quickly. One might think that since a dryer is hot enough to kill germs and bacteria (even harmful ones such as COVID-19 aerosols) wouldn’t a dryer be able to kill mold? Unfortunately, the opposite holds true, not only does the heat in the dryer not kill the mold but it is a breeding area for it. If your vent flapper does not close properly, the water that comes into the vents mixes with some left-over lint creating paste which is a magnet for mold. In fact, the temperature and the humidity factors of a laundry room are perfect for the creation of fresh mold. Mold flourishes in an environment with temperatures of 70 degrees and humidity above 60%. Most folks would agree that the description fits their laundry room with both children and adults running to it when they come in from the cold. What better place to warm up during the cold winter? Yet this same room that feels so comfy and cozy when jack frost appears, is a breeding ground for mold. This same room does not get as cold as the rest of the house during the summer even with central air and the only way to combat this heat is to refrain from using the clothes dryer.

Just like no one in this country seems to be reducing their driving or increasing their carpooling with the crazy gas prices, I have yet to see any people hang their clothes to dry in the summer if they are lucky enough to have a working clothes dryer. The best advice is to keep your dryer updated by calling in a professional regularly to check out the vents before your dryer leaks or breaks entirely.

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