If you are a homeowner who has a laundry room, you may have heard about fire hazards associated with a dryer vent.
There are some very specific things that homeowners need to know about dryers and their venting needs.
One question that often comes up is whether or not it is safe to vent a dryer into a crawl space.
If this is a situation that you may be having at your house, we have all the answers you need and some helpful information about dryer vents in general.
Is It Okay to Vent Dryer into a Crawl Space?
It is not okay to vent a dryer directly into a crawl space.
There are several reasons that this could cause damage to your home.
Let’s first consider what it is that comes out of the dryer vent.
You will notice that the air coming from the dryer vent is not only warm, but it is also moist.
Remember, when you put your clothes into the dryer, they were soaking wet, and the dryer used warm air to help dry them.
The dryer also extracts this moisture that is coming from the clothes.
The problem with warm and moist air is that it will be a perfect way to create mold.
If you force this air back under your crawl space, you are going to essentially be helping mold grow in your crawl space.
Mold growing in your crawl space is potentially more dangerous than having it grow in your basement or attic, where it is more visible.
Mold in the crawl space will be invisible to the people who are living in the house, yet it will still cause them potential health dangers and risk factors.
Another issue with pushing this dryer vent debris into your crawlspace is that it will start to accumulate.
The lint will start to pile up under the house.
In moist and wet conditions, this is obviously going to lead to the mold problem.
In addition, in hot and dry conditions, it could be a fire hazard.
Lint from your dryer is highly flammable.
It can start a fire from just the smallest spark.
A fire in your crawlspace is going to cause serious structural damage to your home and be quite challenging to put out.
This is not a situation in which you want to put yourself.
The best way to fix this issue is to properly vent your dryer outside where it should be.
A dryer vented to the outdoors can blow the warm moist air out into the open and help to keep the home safe.
You can catch the lint that comes out of the dryer and simply clean it out to make sure it is not released into your yard.
Do Dryer Vents Need to Be Cleaned?
One of the best ways to help prevent a fire in your home is to make sure that you clean your dryer vent.
Local companies can come and hook their machines up and have your dryer cleaned in a matter of minutes.
It is relatively easy for a homeowner to reach into the end of the dryer vent and clean out what they can.
The problem is that, usually, a dryer vent is going to run through a good portion of your home.
If this is the case, there are probably areas where the vent is filled with wet lint.
Over time, this can create a blockage in your vent pipe, and it will significantly impact your dryer’s performance.
The dryer vent cleaner will use tools to make sure that the entire vent is completely clear of any debris.
For those who are wondering how often it makes sense to clean a dryer vent, you will have to consider how much use the dryer gets.
If you use your dryer every day, you will likely need to have the vent cleaned quite often.
If you do one load of laundry every week, a once-yearly dryer vent cleaning could be enough to do it.
If you notice that your drying times are getting longer and longer, it could be that the vent is a bit clogged up.
Don’t let this problem last longer than it needs to.
Think about all the energy you are wasting each time you do a load of laundry that takes double the time because of your clogged vent.
Will an Exhaust Fan in the Dryer Duct System Help Dryer Performance?
Sometimes the route from the dryer to the outdoors is a bit longer than you would like.
This will often require a duct fan system to help improve the performance.
A fan system in the dryer duct will help you get your clothes to dry quicker, and you will end up burning much less electricity.
In addition, you will have less of a chance of the lint and moist air getting trapped in your dryer vent.
Certainly, this will help with long term concerns of the dryer being a safety hazard.
The most important thing to remember about adding an exhaust fan to your dryer duct system is that you will need to use a booster fan specifically designed for dryers.
If you use something that is built for commercial exhaust, it won’t be efficient.
Commercial exhaust fans are not built to be exposed to the same levels of moisture that the dryer duct system fans are.
The lint will potentially get stuck in the fan, and then it can cause a very severe fire hazard.
The bottom line is, when you try and rig a dryer system, it is not going to work all that well, so make sure you use quality original parts from the manufacturer so that you and your home stay safe.
Can You Use Corrugated Plastic to Vent a Dryer?
By now, we have hopefully established the fact that you have to vent a dryer.
If you are wondering about different materials you can use, you really need to use the aluminum pipe.
You have probably seen this pipe running out of the back of your dryer.
It will probably be about four inches in diameter, and it should be hanging up high whenever possible.
The piping hanging up high should flow better and keep the air moving away and outdoors.
The great thing about the aluminum pipe is that it is very smooth, and it does not have any ridges where the lint will get stuck and cause buildup.
Instead, the wet moisture flies through the aluminum piping and directly outdoors.
With the plastic corrugated pipe, there are areas where the lint is going to build up.
If you clean your dryer vent every other day, this is certainly not a problem; however, that is not realistic.
The wet lint will get stuck in the smaller areas of the pipe, and then it will take quite a large effort to get it adequately cleaned.
Eventually, there will be enough built up that air will not flow through properly.
This can obviously lead to longer drying times, but it will become a severe fire hazard as well.
Do not use anything but aluminum piping to vent the dryer, and vent it fully outside.
Should I Insulate My Dryer Vent?
As we mentioned, there is going to be a good amount of moisture that runs through your dryer vent.
This moisture on the inside of your house does not run any risk of freezing.
However, as the air travels to the outdoors, there could be a chance that it will freeze.
You must make sure that, if your dryer vent runs outside or under your house for any part of its route, it is insulated.
Of course, if you live in a mild climate, this won’t be an issue.
However, you will not want to have the pipes freezing in those cooler climates.
If your dryer vent ends up freezing with quite a bit of moisture inside, it will have a hard time getting the water out.
Increased condensation and moisture could eventually lead to a mold problem and more functionality issues with your dryer.
Most of the time, the part of a dryer vent which runs outside and is exposed is relatively short.
Simply make sure that this is taken care of properly, and you won’t have to worry about these moisture issues.
Is It Okay to Vent Dryer into the Attic?
For those who have second story dryers, an obvious place to vent the dryer is into the attic.
This is, however, a terrible idea.
You will be pumping moist, warm air into your attic, and it is a real fire hazard.
If you have ever been in your attic in the summertime, you know how hot it is already.
If you try pushing more hot air up there, it will make the attic almost unbearable.
In addition, your house will struggle to maintain the temperature you want because of all the hot air being pumped back inside.
Although it may seem like the easiest way to vent a dryer, you must not only consider the easy way.
You have to stay safe as well.
In addition, the attic is a place where fires can start quickly.
Since most homeowners are rarely checking their attic for fire hazards, they often have no idea what is going on up there.
Pumping a bunch of hot air is certainly not going to be a smart idea.
Can a Dryer Be Vented into a Garage?
Sometimes when purchasing a home, you may notice that a dryer is vented into a garage.
This is generally a poor idea.
The humidity is going to increase quite a bit in the garage with this setup.
You will also find that you have a higher potential for mold issues by setting your dryer to vent this way.
Last but certainly not least, the lint will get on the ground in the garage, and then you will likely track it back into the house.
Do yourself a favor and take the extra few feet of vent pipe that it takes to bring the dryer vent outside where it belongs.
When you deal with houses and construction, there is typically a right and wrong way to do things.
However, there are also times when there is a dangerous and a safe way to do things.
When it comes to dryer vents, you must be very careful about how you vent them.
What you may think of as an excellent solution could truly be a fire hazard.
The best thing to do is to get the dryer vented to the outdoors.
This is the only safe way to make sure you will not create a mold or fire problem in your home.