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To Vent or Not to Vent the Dryer Indoors?

To Vent or Not to Vent the Dryer Indoors?

This was a tricky question.  We understand that many people live in poorly planned homes where they are not allowed to make changes.  However, venting a dryer inside has a lot of disadvantages, even health dangers.  It all comes down to knowing that more than just “hot air” comes out of the dryer; this is why they are supposed to be vented to the outdoors.

First of all, NEVER EXHAUST A GAS (propane or natural gas) DRYER TO THE INDOORS.  This is absolutely a safety hazard, because the combustion gas exhaust (including carbon monoxide and NOx) are mingled with that hot air, and no filter is going to remove combustion gasses.  You would be poisoning your home air quality.  If you have a gas dryer and do not see a way to install a vent to outside, stop right here and either change out your dryer for an electric one (preferably a heat pump dryer, which does not require a vent), or move your gas dryer to a location where you can exhaust the vent outdoors (which would involve moving the gas line, too).  If your dryer is electric, you can keep reading.

So, let’s first talk about what is coming out of your dryer vent.  

  1. Obviously, warm air is coming out, because, after all, if your dryer is not heating your clothes, it’s likely not drying them.
  2. Water vapor:  This is where all the water from wet clothes goes–it evaporates and goes out the vent.  Majorly humid air here.
  3. Dust: You might collect some lint from your clothing on the dryer screen, but a lot of fine dust goes right through the screen into the vent line and outside.  This is why, when dryer vent lines are not sealed well, or they come loose, the laundry room suddenly starts to become very dusty!  And, vent lines should be cleaned of dust periodically so that they don’t become a fire hazard.  

In the wintertime, it might be tempting to redirect that hot humid air back into your home to save some money on heating and humidification!  However, most people who do vent inside either don’t care about the air quality or don’t keep up with the maintenance needed to do it right.  Here are the ways that venting inside can go wrong: (Clothes Dryer Moisture Activity)

  1. With no filtration, a lot of lint gets spread around in the laundry room (and surrounding rooms and even the rest of the home via the HVAC ducts).  If anyone in your home is sensitive to dust or prone to asthma, this is not acceptable.
  2. With filtration, you may be putting the dryer vent under too much pressure to keep the air flow up. Low air flow can cause the dryer to run longer.
  3. Low air flow and lint buildup in the dryer vent can cause a fire.
  4. The laundry room (and the surrounding rooms) can get too warm when you run the dryer in summer.
  5. The laundry room (and surrounding rooms) can get too humid and create a risk for mold when you run the dryer in summer, or anytime that the humidity in the home is already high.  For every load of laundry you dry, you are venting up to a gallon of water in condensation from your dryer. This will create a sauna in your laundry room, which can cause wood to swell, paint to peel, and mold to take hold.  (Eight Problems with Indoor Dryer Vent Kits)
  6. Venting a dryer indoors is against code (illegal) in most states.
  7. There have been documented complaints that the fine particulates of lint that escape from the reservoir can cause the smoke detector to go off.  This is proof that there are loads of  particulates coming through indoor drying vents. (Eight Problems with Indoor Dryer Vent Kits)

Needless to say, the problems with venting indoors are legion. 

We want to empathize with tough living situations.  Some people live in an apartment or home that has an improvised laundry cubby in the middle of the building, and the owners did not install a vent.  Unless the laundry room is sitting over a crawlspace or basement with an unfinished ceiling, it can be difficult to install a ventline to the outside, even if you have an agreeable landlord.  In many situations telling a landlord about the problem will not solve the issue.  Sure, there are lots of positive comments about “ventless dryer filters”, but many other users are not reporting the huge humidity problems in their laundry room after drying just one load.   For all these reasons and more, we want to be kind and say that indoor dryer venting is ok, but in the end the safety considerations outweigh it.

So, here are some options:

  1. If you have the budget, plan to stay in your home a long time or are able to take a dryer with you when you move, consider purchasing a heat pump dryer (which is ventless).  
  2. If the landlord is not willing to install a vent, but the room has a window that opens, explore the options of a Dryer Vent Window Kit ($30-37).  You may also want to add a window lock if you’re permanently installing it in a ground floor window.
  3. OR, move the dryer to a room that has a window and run an extension cord to it, which would have to be plugged/unplugged every time you do laundry. 
  4. Run an extra spin cycle on your wet clothing to wring out more moisture, and air dry clothing on a rack.
  5. Offer to trade services with a friend who has a properly vented dryer (meal prep, car wash, dog walk, use your imagination!)
  6. Take your laundry to a laundromat.  

Dryers and laundry rooms in general require more planning than you think!  We tried to be creative and make the most of a difficult situation.  If you have another alternative that works for you, we’d love to hear about it!

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash