Avoid a Dryer Fire from a Plastic Vent
LESLIE: Alright, our next caller, Cathy, is calling just in time because there is a potential risk for a dryer fire. Tell us what’s going on with your dryer, Cathy?
CATHY: Yes, my laundry room is located in the basement of – the downstairs of a raised ranch and it’s in the center of the house. It actually goes up. The vent goes up over the bathroom, which is located next to it before it goes out. So it doesn’t have a direct line to the outside wall.
TOM: OK, it kind of snakes its way out.
CATHY: Right. How would I go about changing something like that? I did have a plumber come. He said it wasn’t worth it.
TOM: So right now, the dryer vent that goes through – is it going through a wall cavity?
CATHY: Yes, a ceiling cavity.
TOM: A ceiling cavity? And it’s a plastic dryer vent?
CATHY: Yes, it is.
TOM: Not safe. Well, you know there probably is a way to snake a metal dryer exhaust duct in there …
LESLIE: Like a fitting that would go inside of the existing one?
TOM: No, what I’m thinking is that if you – it’s the same way that you would snake wires or new plumbing pipe through walls. You may have to cut an access hole but you can – if it’s the accordion type where it sort of unfolds, all you need to do is to kind of get it started and you can pull it through that whole space and hook it up to the outside.
LESLIE: Cathy, how do you know that the entire dryer vent line is all plastic and it’s not just the piece that’s going from your dryer into the wall?
TOM: And by the way, Cathy, that would be very unusual for there to be plastic inside the wall.
LESLIE: Because it’s a fire hazard.
TOM: Alright, so it’s that one piece, from the ceiling outside, that has to be replaced.
TOM: Yeah, well you’re just going to have to snake a new one in there. I mean it’s not impossible. You may have to open up a piece of the ceiling on the far end so you can access all the way across …
TOM: … but it’s very important that that be replaced because if it’s plastic it’s a fire hazard.
CATHY: It is plastic.
TOM: It definitely is?
CATHY: Yes. I can see it from the outside opening, you know, when I clean it out.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and you know it’s working? When you turn the dryer on, you see that the hot air comes out the vent on the outside?
CATHY: Yes, if I’m outside I can see it.
TOM: OK, so we know it works.
TOM: You’re just going to have to replace that. It is definitely worth it because it’s dangerous to have a plastic vent, dryer vent, inside the ceiling cavity. It’s not designed to do that.