Clothes dryers work by spinning wet clothing. This spinning action is combined with heat and airflow. The heat turns the water into steam and the steam is pulled out of the dryer through a pipe. This pipe is connected to a vent. The steam is pushed out the vent and outside of your home.
Installing a Vent
For a clothes dryer to work well it must be properly vented. The first consideration before installing the vent is where the dryer will be placed in your home. Many homes already have exterior vents for dryers in place. It is safer to route the vent hose to a properly installed exterior vent than some makeshift opening.
Vents should never be routed through chimneys or attics. If your home does not have a pre-existing vent, consider hiring a professional to install one. If this is too expensive, make sure to consult a professional for the proper instructions for installing a vent yourself. Follow the instructions very carefully.
Vents are available in either aluminum or plastic. Although aluminum is a bit more expensive it is well worth the money. Aluminum vents are much less likely to become a fire hazard than plastic. Keep in mind that any trapped lint has the potential to cause a fire. The same applies to vent hose.
Aluminum is far superior to plastic. Plastic hose is too weak to support its own weight and will sag, creating pockets that can trap and hold lint. When running the vent hose, follow the shortest route from the back of the dryer to the exterior vent hood. Avoid twists and turns. This will cut down on the amount of lint that gets trapped in the hose.
Use clamps to secure the vent hose to the elbows. Do not use screws. Screws are another place that can create the buildup of lint. For sealing the joints along the vent use foil tape. Make sure that the vent hose is securely attached to the back of the dryer. Venting directly out the back of your dryer into your basement or laundry room is not safe.
After proper installation of the dryer vent, maintenance is next in importance. Clothes dryers operate far more efficiently when properly maintained. This involves regular cleaning of the vent and ducts.
To clean them first unplug the dryer. Then remove the vent hose from the back of the dryer. Pull any visible lint or fibers from the hole in the back. Vacuum away any remainder. Reattach the vent hose. Remove the hose from the exterior vent. Again, remove any visible material and then extend the vacuum tube as far into the vent hose as it will go. Reattach the hose to the vent and plug the dryer back in. Run the dryer on the air setting to blow out any remaining lint.
If your dryer is taking longer to dry your clothes or does not dry them at all, try these troubleshooting tips. Make sure that the vent is clean.
Next, check to make sure that the vent hose is not being pressed together. Follow the length of the hose from the back of the dryer to the outside vent. Feel for any flattened areas. If the hose is open and clean then there is probably some other problem affecting the dryer.
As already suggested, an improperly functioning dryer can be a serious health hazard. There is a very real risk of fire starting in a dirty dryer vent.
With a gas dryer it is even more important to maintain its proper function. A poisonous gas called CO2 is a by-product of running any gas appliance. This gas can accumulate in the vent hose if its airflow is restricted. CO2 is an invisible, odorless, highly toxic poison that can lead to death.
There are clothes dryer vent seals available for installation on the exterior vent. These seals help reduce cold drafts from entering your home in the winter. They also keep hot air from entering your home in the summer. They have the ability to let out hot, moist air from your dryer but prevent the backflow of unwanted outdoor air that can enter through your vent system.
They help save on winter heating costs as well as summer cooling costs. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. They can be removed for cleaning. In addition to air exchange prevention, vent seals also keep out insects and other small animals that may try to enter your home through this vent.