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dryer vent architecture from local HVAC service

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Dryer Venting Options 101

Although dryer venting isn't complicated, there are still some basic guidelines you'll need to follow to protect your health and your safety. A poorly vented dryer releases lint and moisture into your home, reducing air quality. Worse, an incorrect vent can pose a fire hazard.

Safe, low maintenance vent materials

Aluminum dryer vent ducts

Due to the temperature of the air exiting the dryer, high temperature metal approved UL Conduit is the only safe choice of material. White plastic flexible duct may seem like a practical and affordable option, but it accumulates more lint than metal pipes, making it more susceptible to fires.

It's also not very durable, so you'll have to replace it more often.

Some of your best options include:

Flexible Coiled Aluminum Duct - Although this is common, it is not ideal as the uneven interior can collect lint. Before installing this type of duct, verify that your dryer is approved.

Semi-Rigid Aluminum - This material is similar to flexible duct, but is a bit better for longer vent lengths.

Rigid Aluminum - The smooth interior of this material makes it the ideal choice of dryer duct.

Sheet - This material is more difficult to install and therefore less common, but its thickness makes it exceptionally strong. The smooth interior is another advantage.

For most dryers, 4 inch ducts are ideal. If you must bend the duct, install elbows to avoid kinks. Never let the conduit drag you to the ground.

Use rings or support strips to secure it to floor joists or any other surface.

Connect lengths of conduit with UL approved aluminum tape (foil) or metal compression clips. Screws only tangle inside the conduit, increasing the risk of fire.

If you plan to run the duct through an unconditioned space, such as a crawl space, insulate the duct to prevent condensation from freezing in the winter.

Wrapping the duct in 2 to 3 inches of fiberglass insulation is the easiest approach, but you can also purchase insulation sleeves made specifically for dryer ducts.


For added safety, consider installing a recessed dryer vent box.

Extractor hood: This simple corner hood has the shape of an extractor hood above the hob. The lower part is protected by a register or a grid. A damper opens to exhaust air from the dryer, but remains closed when the dryer is off.

Avoid ventilation hoods covered with a grille or screen. These collect lint, which poses a fire hazard.

They also let in small rodents and insects, debris, and outside air.

Floating Shuttle Lid - In this design, an arm extends from the vent opening and swings upward at a 90 degree angle. Covering this upward-facing opening is a cup-shaped lid that is lifted and dryer air escapes. When the dryer is off, the lid folds down to seal the opening. This keeps all kinds of debris out.

Flap Cover - This is a flat cover with one or more flaps that open to let air out of the dryer, but close when the dryer is not not used. This keeps all types of debris out and also saves space compared to other covers.

To improve ventilation efficiency and protect the wall, apply mastic to seal the joint where the ventilation meets the exterior wall.

Clothes dryer vent path

Duct planning

© Dmitry Guzhanin/Adobe Stock

The path taken by the dryer vent from the clothes dryer to the outside makes a difference in the ability of ventilation to operate safely and efficiently. Try to use the shortest and straightest route possible.

This reduces the need for elbows and other bends that tend to accumulate lint.

If you purchased a dryer vent kit, the instructions should provide guidance on the ideal length.

At all times possible, keep the vent pipe less than 25 feet in length and only add elbows when unavoidable. Elbows reduce the length of ductwork you can safely use, so reduce the total expected length by 1.5 feet for each 90 degree elbow and 2.5 feet for each 45 degree elbow.

So if your route includes a 45 degree elbow, the conduit elbow should not exceed 22.5 feet.

The easiest solution is to run the vent directly through the wall behind the dryer to the outside. If that doesn't work, vent it through the nearest exterior wall.

For a clothes dryer in the basement, route the duct upwards, then horizontally along the ceiling joist to the outside.

Place the external ventilation opening at least 30cm above the floor to allow air circulation and keep the air inlet clean.

Avoid dragging the air intake through the roof. It is more likely to clog there, can attract birds and other nesting animals, and in snowy climates will contribute to the formation of ice dams which can damage the roof. simple, but still worth paying attention to. Investing time in choosing the right materials and vent path for your dryer will help your dryer run more efficiently, protect your home from moisture damage, and most importantly, reduce the risk of fire.

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