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A dryer vent can be hazardous...even to people. It seems odd that something so simple could be the cause of deterioration I find in the components of homes I inspect.

One of the common mistakes made by homeowners is failing to vent their dryer to the exterior. Even when it is run outside, there are some venting locations where it can be detrimental to equipment and even people.

Never vent a dryer into a house. Some people do this by putting a nylon stocking over the vent pipe because they think it is a cheap source of heat. While it is true that it heats up the interior of the home, it adds moisture to the air which causes mildew, mold and fungi growth, and dry rot of the framing members in the laundry room area walls, floors, and ceilings.

Never vent a dryer into an under floor crawl space or into the attic. The added moisture in these locations causes the same kinds of mold and fungi growth. If the space is insulated, the moisture ruins the insulation’s effectiveness. In addition, the lint makes perfect nesting material for a variety of vermin. To see an example of this, click here.

Never vent a dryer to the outside near the front door - A mistake I see very frequently as a home inspector. The lint just makes a mess of your entry area and it gets tracked into the house with every visitor.

Never vent a dryer near or next to an air conditioning unit that sits on the ground outside. First of all, the lint can clog the little fins of the condensing unit, decreasing the efficiency of the unit. In addition, the chemicals used in dryer softener sheets may react with and deteriorate the metal of these units.

For the same reason, never vent a dryer near the fresh air intake of a high efficiency furnace or water heater. The air being drawn in is for combustion, and the combustion chambers of these units are very sensitive to chemicals.

Never vent a dryer near a window - particularly a bedroom in which children are sleeping. Laundry chemicals are strong, and children can be sensitive to them causing a variety reactions.

Finally, never vent a dryer near me. I am more sensitive than any child, and those odors your dryer puts out from the chemicals in your laundry detergent and softeners make my heart race and give me a headache. I have actually had to reschedule a home inspection because I was unable to breathe the air around the home I was to inspect.

One day, when we are all more enlightened, these agents in laundry products will be outlawed! That may seem an extreme position, but remember the book “Silent Spring” and all of the chemicals we banned back in the 60’s after we learned what they were doing to us? In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before someone writes the “Silent Spring of Household Cleaning Products” causing us to wake up once again to the harm our fabric softener is causing to our environment.

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