How to Vent a Dryer

Venting a Dryer is Key for Drying Clothes and Preventing House Fires

By Mark J. Donovan

It’s important to vent a dryer if you want the dryer to actually dry your clothes. It’s also just as important to vent a dryer to prevent your dryer from causing a house fire. Moreover it’s just as important to clean the dryer vent periodically to remove any lint buildup in it. Every year thousands of homes catch fire due to dryer’s being improperly vented or the dryer vent being clogged. Installing a dryer vent, and keeping it clean, is very easy to do. With a few basic tools and a little self discipline you can install your own dryer vent and keep it clean and operating safely.

To install a dryer vent, find the most direct route from the dryer to an exterior wall where you want to vent the dryer.

Make sure that there are as few turns as possible. Remember each turn is an eventual choke point in the dryer ductwork. In addition more turns complicate the dryer vent installation. Mark the location for the dryer vent with a pencil on the interior and the exterior side of the wall. This way you can confirm that it will be located where you truly want it on the outside of your home.

Next purchase the necessary galvanized steel ductwork, including straight and elbow pieces. Make sure you also purchase sheet metal screws specifically designed for fastening the ductwork together. Also purchase the dryer vent. Make sure the dryer vent includes a cap to keep the insects and critters out.

Use the dryer vent cap assembly as a template for marking the opening on the exterior of the home. Then use a drill and a large 1 inch drill bit to create several pilot holes around the circumference of the marked circle. Next use a jig saw to cut out the opening for the dryer vent.

Alternatively you can use an appropriately sized bimetal hole saw to cut out the opening. Take your time cutting out the hole as you may go through a nail or two in the process.

After cutting out the opening install the dryer vent cap assembly into the opening and fasten it to the exterior of the home with the screws provided. Finally caulk around the dryer vent to ensure an air tight seal. Make sure to caulk on both the outside and inside of the dryer vent assembly.

Next, cut and assemble sections of ductwork as necessary to connect the dryer’s vent opening with the dryer vent cap tubing penetrating into the home. Make sure to connect the pieces of ductwork together with sheet metal screws.

Also apply metal foil tape around all of the seams. Tin snips work best for cutting ductwork. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection when working with ductwork. Attaching the final section of ductwork to the dryer can be a challenge as you are inevitably working in tight quarters. Make sure to measure the final section of ductwork based upon the final location of the dryer.

How to vent a dryer.

Once you’ve installed all of the ductwork and have positioned the dryer in its final resting place plug it in and test the dryer. Go outside the home and make sure that the dyer vent cap is open and that warm air is exiting it. Once or twice a year make sure to clean the dryer vent. Use a vacuum cleaner with a long hose to clean as much of the duct work as possible. Also make sure to clean both the dryer side and the exterior vent cap side.

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