Dryer Vents – Reduce Fire Danger, Save Energy and Help Asthma and Allergy Symptoms


The dryer vent pipe is an often overlooked fire hazard and energy eater. Moisture and lint can gather in the folds causing a potential fire hazard and restricting air flow making your dryer run longer consuming more natural gas and electricity. I see over 200 houses every year and one of the most common and potentially dangerous problems are incorrect dryer vents.

You need to replace your dryer vent pipe if it

  • is made of flexible plastic or foil
  • has more than two 90 degree elbows
  • is more than 12 feetĀ long
  • uses metal screws
  • the laundry area is moist, humid and covered in lint

Flexible foil or plastic vent pipe looks like the arms on the robot from the TV show Lost In Space. People use these because they are so easy to install. Every turn or elbow will slow the exhaust air. Longer lengths will cause moisture in the air to condense giving lint a chance to catch and build up in the pipe. The longer length will also make your dryer work harder. The sharp point of metal screws in the pipe will catch lint. If there are leaks in the pipe the added humidity will provide a perfect environment for mold and mildew growth and Carbon Monoxide will also be pumped into your house if you have a gas dryer. Asthma and allergy sufferers should pay special attention to the dryer vent pipeĀ clean dryer vent.


A proper dryer vent will

  • be made of solid metal pipe
  • not have more than two 90 degree elbows
  • not be more than 12 feet long (check local building codes at your city building inspection department)
  • use metal tape to seal and secure all joints

All the supplies and tools can be bought at the local hardware store. Aluminum pipe is much easier to work with. It comes flat for cutting and then is rolled so one edge can be inserted into the other crimped edge. Pre-made elbows are used. The pipe and elbows both have one end crimped so you can fit the smaller crimped end into the larger non-crimped end.

The metal tape has a backing that peels off and sticks to the pipe holding it securely. You will need to buy tin snips or aviation side-cutters (this type looks like it has a 45 degree bend and will keep your hands above the material) and a crimping tool to reduce the diameter of cut edges. Remember to fit the small end of the pipe into the large end so the edges do not block air flow and catch lint inside the pipe!

I once saw a condominium with a vent pipe that was over 30 feet in length. You may have to move the dryer across the basement near an outside wall which would mean the gas and electric supplies will have to be altered by a licensed contractor. Homes with first or second floor laundries may need special attention. And never exhaust the dryer into a garage or attic!

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