PVC is a common material in home plumbing, and even some kinds of vents. As such, it may seem like a good choice for a typical dryer vent, but it's not a good fit for that application. For both efficiency and safety reasons, PVC is a bad choice for dryer vents.
In the 1950s, when PVC pipes were first developed, people found this material to be very durable and the quality of it being resistant to bacteria has made it convenient for plumbing purposes. PVC comes in a variety of sizes measured in diameter and strengths referring to schedules. This is commonly used for commercial and residential cold water piping systems. It is not recommended for hot water because these PVC pipes can weaken causing it to warp when the temperature of the water reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Risks and Dangers
The dangers of PVC pipe is that since it is very sensitive to high temperatures exhausted by the dryer, the vent’s pipe will eventually soften and possibly break. Since it is also prone to static buildup, lint will accumulate inside the pipe and could clog the exhaust causing the pipe to be less effective as a dryer vent. When the vents get clogged it is also very possible that the dryer itself can overheat and can increase the risk of fire. Lint also can burn if too much heat is accumulated and can ignite especially if you are drying something that contains oil and grease. So, in essence, use of a PVC pipe as a dryer vent is a fire hazard.
Since PVC is not really safe for dryer vents, it is recommended to use the flexible aluminum pipes for your dryer vents instead. Not only is less expensive, it is also easier to install and vent warping and dryer overheating is no longer an issue.
Although a lot of building codes still allow PVC pipes for dryer vents, is best not to use this type of materials knowing the hazards it can cause. No matter what material you use, it can still cause possible fires due to clogging of vents, so always clean your vents regularly.
Always check for lint accumulation, loose screws, and other issues that may make your venting less efficient. Never use materials that you are not familiar with or are not sure if it is really used for dryer vents. Some people use materials not intended for this and end up jeopardizing the quality of the dryer. Not only will this be less efficient, but the longer it takes to dry clothes, the longer the dryer has to run which raises your electric bill.