Comparing Dryer Vent Options

white dryer vent mounted in a brick wall

When it comes to dryer vent options, you have a variety of options. Whatever option you select, do not use vinyl vent hose. It's not Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved and is a fire hazard, especially when coupled with a gas dryer. Use only UL-approved, smooth-walled, rigid aluminum, spiral-wound aluminum flex hose, or sheet metal duct, no matter what vent option you choose.

Why Metal Vents are Critical

One of the biggest causes of dryer vent fires is lint build-up. Lint build-up occurs when lint is caught in the folds or crevices of a dryer hose, or on the moisture that condenses on vinyl vent hoses. It may also happen when lint catches on the head of a screw or other fastener, or on the collar of an extension or where two pieces of pipe are joined, but not properly taped to seal off rough edges.

The Dryer Vent's Job

flexible foil dryer hose

Dryer vents come in a variety of configurations, most involving at least one or more 90-degree elbow turn that allow the dryer to vent hot air, moisture, and lint to the outside of your home. Depending on how far your vent must travel to reach the outside wall opening, you will need a variety of elbows, pipes, and connectors. The more elbows and the farther your pipe must travel, the more likely you are to have a potential fire hazard in your home. By using only UL-approved materials your safety increases. Using metal means you can also regularly clean out your pipes with a vent brush, which typically has stiff bristles that would tear or puncture a vinyl dryer hose.

Overview Of Kinds Of Dryer Vents

  1. Ventless Dryer - A ventless dryer is actually made to remove lint and condensation through a special process and does not need a vent.
  2. Recessed Dryer Vent Box - A recessed dryer vent box is a recessed metal box that fits into your wall behind your dryer. It allows you to push your dryer flush against the wall, eliminating a 45-to-90-degree angle in the dryer vent pipe. It also protects the wall from heat, and from condensation and moisture, which can cause mold growth.
  3. Louvered Vent - Louvered vents are not only energy efficient, they also deter birds and animals that are attracted to a dryer vent opening - even one with a screen on it. The louvered vent is hinged on the outside hole with either a single or multi-slatted louver system that opens when dryer air forces it open during drying. This allows for air and lint to vent, but doesn't attract nest builders of any kind. It closes automatically when your dryer is not drying, sealing the pipe to outside air and animals.
  4. Screened Dryer Vents - These vents are a fire hazard in more than one way. Although you might not think even a large screen on the outside of your dryer vent could clog with lint, you'd be wrong. Not only do they clog up quickly, they attract birds, bees, and other animals who enter and nest in your dryer vent. They also allow cold air to enter in the winter and air-conditioned air to escape in the summer.