About Those Dryer Vents

Dryer vents will often get mention when I am writing a custom home inspection report in Waco. Something like this may seem pretty straightforward to some folks, but how many of us have really looked at the condition of it, or paid attention to how it has been installed? 

There are the obvious things, of course, such as whether the vent is fairly clean.


Many are not; even a partially clogged vent can reduce efficiency and cause the equipment to break down ahead of its time. It can also be a fire hazard. In addition to being clean, the outside flap should be in good working order, and move freely. The flap will allow air and lint to escape, and will prevent entry of insects and other unsavory critters, such as lizards, which could damage the dryer.

Ideally, the vent itself should be smooth metal, and a minimum thickness of 28 gauge. The operative word is metal. The vent system should not exceed 25 feet; changes of direction reduces this length by 5 feet, and only two changes are allowable. Any changes of direction are not advised. I have seen some dryers that were vented with PVC. At first glance, this would not be a problem. However, PVC can develop a hydro-electric charge that actually will cause lint to accumulate more quickly and can become a fire hazard. 


Finally, where the vent terminates or ends is always important. In short, they should always terminate to the exterior. There are no good exceptions to this! Two common places other than the exterior that dryers vent to are the garage and the attic. When venting to the garage, it is an increased fire hazard because a spark near flammable materials could cause a fire rather easily. Further, this will compromise the 20-minute fire separation between the garage and house.

Finally, the warm, moist air will damage the drywall finish and can compromise the fire rating required for attached garages. When vented to the attic space, warm moist air can condense, creating conditions that are conducive to mold and other wood destroying organisms. Naturally, it is also a fire hazard. 


If you operate a dryer, you should clean the lint trap between each use. You should also inspect and clean the vent monthly. Keeping the system clean will allow a dryer to perform as it should, and will not only extend the life of the equipment, but will reduce fire hazards. 

Until next time, be safe and stay informed!

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