Improve Clothes Dryer Ventilation
LESLIE: Pat in Illinois listens on WYLL. And we can hear your venting all the way from here. What’s going on at your house?
PAT: Well, I have a clothes dryer in a townhome. And the vent goes all the way through the garage and up and over the garage door. And it seems to either not be venting – the vent must not be working properly because it’s kind of blown out several motors on the dryer before. And I need help to figure out what can we do; is there an alternative that we could use to vent the clothes dryer.
TOM: You know, Pat, I had this exact problem in a townhouse that I own. The dryer vent went – was sort – the dryer was sort of in the middle of the unit and it went up into an attic space and then the long way across the – on its way to the outside and then poked down and out. And it took a long time to dry the clothes. And also, the vent got very dirty. And you’re right; the dryer vent motors are not designed to push that warm air that far and that’s why it’s under a lot of stress. The only suggestions that I would have would be to see if there’s any shorter way out of this.
Now are you – is this dryer on the second floor of your townhouse?
PAT: No, it’s on the first floor.
TOM: And right now, does the dryer vent go all the way up into the attic?
PAT: No it goes – because it is a two story townhome …
PAT: … but it just goes over only one story. It doesn’t go up two levels to an attic.
TOM: Yeah, the question is, is there any shorter way to get that out?
PAT: Well, I was just wondering could we perhaps redirect it through the – through the garage with a larger vent?
TOM: And the other thing is, is the vent that’s going out right now a flex duct vent or is it a hard duct?
PAT: It’s a hard duct that goes through the wall because it’s in the wall.
TOM: Is it being connected by a flex duct on the way there?
PAT: It’s being connected by a flex duct, yes.
TOM: Yeah, you know that’s part of the problem because there’s a lot of resistance with a flex duct. All of those coils add – slow down the speed of the air as it moves through. So you …
LESLIE: Even though it’s such a short distance?
TOM: Well no, the flex duct is going from the dryer all the way to the place where it goes through the wall.
PAT: And see, but it’s right there at the dryer …
TOM: Oh, you mean right at the dryer itself.
PAT: Right at the point. And of course there’s more flex duct than is needed.
TOM: Well, that could be part of your problem, too. You want to have as little of that as possible. But when it gets into the wall, are you sure it’s hard ducted all the way up through the wall and out?
PAT: It has to be hard duct because it’s metal and it …
TOM: Have you ever cleaned the ducts?
PAT: We had it – we’ve had it cleaned before. You know, with lint cleaners where it’s been sucked out and blown out and – and sometimes there’s a water buildup; a condensation buildup.
TOM: Yeah. Basically, the solution here is – you’ve got a bad design to begin with – if there’s any way to get it (swooshing sound) out of the house in any shorter distance, even if it goes up through – it may be even better to go up through the second floor and out through the roof than it is to make that turn because every time you make a turn it adds a lot of resistance to it. Making the duct – enlarging the duct to a wider duct – again, that’s hard metal as opposed to flex duct – would also help move the air through.
One of the other things you could consider doing is putting in a booster fan in between. It may be possible to have an HVAC contractor install a booster fan. It’s used for air flow; when you want to increase air flow in an HVAC system. And that might speed up the flow out through the duct system. Now if you do that, it would have to be wired somehow into the dryer so that it only came on when the dryer was on.
PAT: Thank you so very much. I will take your counsel under advice.
TOM: Thank you, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.