Nearly every household includes a clothes dryer. As vital as these appliances are in today’s busy lifestyles, not many people give them a second thought. The reality is dryers can be dangerous if not vented correctly. Venting a dryer properly is a must to allow lint and humidity to escape.
Clothes dryers can be vented indoors or out. Some people choose to indoor dryer vents for a number of practical reasons, but is this really a good idea? Let’s explore the option below.
- Why You Need to Vent a Dryer
- How Do Indoor Dryer Vent Kits Work?
- Advantages of Using an Indoor Dryer Vent
- Indoor Dryer Vent Pros and Cons
- Verdict: Is an Indoor Dryer Vent Right for You?
Why You Need to Vent a Dryer
Simply put, a dryer must be vented to allow it to expel heat, moisture, and lint. If it cannot do this, it won’t be able to do its job properly and it could pose a safety hazard. Dryer venting helps create a suction force that removes lint from clothing and encourages adequate air circulation to dry the clothes efficiently.
What Happens if Your Dryer is not Vented?
Fire – The biggest threat of not venting a dryer is fire. Lint can become trapped and build up creating the ideal circumstances to spark a fire as it is highly combustible. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, poorly vented clothes dryers are responsible for 2,900 house fires, 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property damage each year.
Mold – The second concern of a poorly vented dryer is mold growth. The air that comes out of a dryer is moist, and over time, it can cause mold and mildew to form around the room.
Allergies – Because moisture is a big concern with an unvented dryer, you will likely discover that your allergy and asthma symptoms flare up when you are home. This is because mold and other microorganisms love humidity and will thrive in an unvented environment.
Humidity – The extra humidity in the home caused by an unvented or poorly ventilated dryer can also cause structural damage to the home. Building materials such as wood and drywall will absorb the excess moisture in the air and begin to deteriorate. Depending on where you are venting your dryer inside your home, your roof, insulation, structural supports, and attic can also sustain damage from the excess humidity inside your home.
Carbon Monoxide – Lastly, if yours is a gas dryer, the air escaping it contains carbon monoxide – a potentially deadly gas for humans and animals to inhale. If your dryer isn’t vented, this gas can, at the very least, cause headaches and breathing problems, and at worst, prove fatal.
How Do Indoor Dryer Vent Kits Work?
An indoor dryer vent is used in instances where households don’t have the means to vent a dryer to the exterior of the home. This type of venting is only recommended for electric dryers as gas dryers emit carbon monoxide that must be vented outdoors.
In simple terms, indoor dryer vents attach to the exhaust port of a dryer via a hose and filter lint from the expelled air. The lint is then caught in a mesh screen or a water reservoir. This type of vent does not filter heat or humidity from the dryer’s exhaust, and as such, they are expelled into the air inside your home.
Are Indoor Dryer Vents Safe?
The short answer is yes they are safe when installed and used in the way in which they were designed to be used. Venting a clothes dryer indoors is never completely safe, but if you install an indoor dryer vent correctly and follow the guidelines for proper use (and you have no means of venting your dryer outside), you can successfully and safely vent an electric dryer indoors.
Gas vs. Electric Dryers
Gas dryers absolutely should not be vented indoors. This is because they emit carbon monoxide, a harmful gas that can cause death if inhaled.
With that said, your safety is still a concern if you vent an electric dryer indoors. While there are indoor dryer vent kits that stop lint from dispersing into the air while the dryer is running, mold, mildew, air pollutants, and fire are still possible when you vent a clothes dryer inside your home.
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Advantages of Using an Indoor Dryer Vent
Despite the safety concerns associated with venting a dryer inside your home, there are some great advantages to using this type of ventilation.
On average, an indoor dryer vent kit costs $15-$25, making it a great alternative to traditional dryer venting in situations where external venting isn’t possible. In many cases, installing an indoor dryer vent is cheaper than having an external dryer vent fixed. Having said that, if your indoor dryer ventilation system requires periodic filter replacement, you may end up paying more over time.
Make the Most of the Warm Air
Clothes dryers expel massive amounts of warm air that is usually vented to the outdoors. In situations where outdoor ventilation isn’t possible and an indoor vent kit is used, that warm air is released into the home. This puts moisture into the air, acting like a humidifier, which is a plus during the dry, winter months. The addition of warm air from the dryer also helps reduce heating costs and saves some wear and tear on your furnace.
High Rise Living
While most single-family homes have access to outdoor dryer ventilation, some apartments such as those in high-rise buildings don’t have the means to vent a dryer outside. In this case, venting a dryer indoors is the only option. Clothes dryers are a necessity, and it’s nice to know there is an alternative for venting one regardless of where you live.
Where External Venting is not Possible
There are many situations where external venting for a clothes dryer just is not possible. These circumstances are exactly why indoor dryer vents were invented. As mentioned above, you may live in an apartment building or a co-joined property that doesn’t allow for an external dryer vent. Another situation that may not allow for venting a dryer outside is if you rent. In most cases, renters are not permitted to make permanent changes to the home or apartment they are leasing, which means if an external dryer vent isn’t already installed, you will need to vent your dryer inside.
Indoor Dryer Vent Pros and Cons
As with anything, there are pros and cons to using an indoor dryer vent kit. Let’s talk about the advantages first.
- Indoor dryer vents cost less to install than fixing an existing outdoor venting system. The average indoor dryer vent costs anywhere from $15-$25 and is easy to install yourself.
- Venting a dryer inside helps save the ozone layer. Internal dryer venting reduces the number of pollutants you release into the air, doing a small part to ensure the continuation of the ozone layer.
- Indoor dryer venting may reduce your heat bill in the winter. Because internal dryer vents do not filter out the heat and moisture coming from your dryer, they help keep your home more humid and warmer during the dry, cold winter months.
- Venting your dryer inside can turn your laundry room into a sauna as there is no way to stop the moisture that comes from a running dryer.
- Indoor dryer vents are notorious culprits of flaring asthma and allergy symptoms since the moisture they release into the air creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew.
- Indoor dryer vents aren’t a guarantee that lint won’t still collect on everything in your laundry room.
- The maintenance commitment required for an internal dryer venting system is rather big since you will need to clean the water trap of lint often or change the filter if your system has one.
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Verdict: Is an Indoor Dryer Vent Right for You?
Although indoor dryer vents come with some serious safety and health concerns, the bottom line is, they can be useful in situations where external dryer ventilation is not possible or permitted. If you must vent your dryer inside your home, the advantages can be quite nice, especially when you see a difference in your energy bill in the winter.
With that said, be sure to heed the disadvantages and make sure to follow all installation and use guidelines explicitly to avoid the hazards associated with this type of dryer vent. Remember, venting a gas dryer indoors is never recommended.
Note: If the cons of installing an indoor dryer vent have you feeling uncomfortable, but you don’t have the ability to vent your dryer outside, you may want to consider a ventless dryer or a condensing-type dryer. These options will be more expensive, but they don’t come with the risks associated with indoor dryer ventilation.
Having renovated two homes and completed countless repairs, it was time to share this experience with the world. From repairing kitchen appliances to remodeling entire homes, my 30 years of experience will hopefully help you on your journey to a beautiful and functional home