You need to properly vent your clothes dryer. Let's face it, you spend $500.00 to $2,000.00 on a new clothes dryer, so why would you want to scrimp on the dryer venting, which by the way is as or more important than the dryer itself.   Let me explain, clothes dryer, dry your clothes.  Dryer vents carry the moist warm air that the dryer extracts from your clothes to the outside of the dryer and hopefully to the outside of your house or apartment.

When your dryer is not vented properly you will not only have problems drying your clothes but you may also be setting yourself up for the number one cause of house fires, improper dryer venting.  I can't stress the importance of proper dryer venting enough.

How to Properly Vent Your Clothes Dryer

There are few things to consider when installing a dryer vent.

 1)    The length of the ducting or the distance from the dryer to the outside wall

2)    The size of the ducting to be used

3)    The type of material the ducting is made of

4)    The actual dryer vent hood

5)    Cutting the hole  through the wall for the vent hood

6)    Installing the venting, step by step


Measuring The Lenght Of Ducting Required


I see so many people come in to purchase dryer ducting and they don't have a clue about how long they need it or what size it should be, never mind what type of ducting they should get in the first place.  All they are concerned about is; I bought a new dryer and I just want to hook it up.  In this article, I hope to cover all the important points in the shortest possible time. 

You have to know how much ducting you will need, so measure the distance from the dryer to the wall outlet before you go shopping.  If you don't have an outlet yet, measure the distance to the intended dryer outlet. 

The Correct Size Of Ducting To Use For A Dryer

Measuring the dryer ducting size

Dryer Vent Size

At least 80 percent of the people I talk to don't know what the correct size their dryer vent should be.  The correct answer is 4 inches but can vary with dryer manufacturers.  All dryer ducting accessories come in 4-inch size.   The maximum allowable length according to Residential Building Codes for Dryer Vents is 25 feet.  You must deduct 5 feet for every 90-degree bend and 2.5 feet for every 45-degree bend.  It is my understanding that manufacturers specifications can override this rule in some jurisdictions, check with your local building inspector to see what applies in your area. 

If you require more than 25 feet of ducting you will have to install a dryer booster fan.

The Correct Type Of Dryer Venting To Use

Dryer Venting - Solid Type

Rigid Aluminum or Galvanized, Smooth Ducting (Best)

The correct type of dryer ducting is smooth rigid vent pipe, made of aluminum or galvanized steel.  Use the fewest number of elbows possible. (Try to create as straight a route as possible, to the outside).   Do not use screws to tie the sections together as they will create a lint build up inside the pipes, instead use aluminum tape or metal clamps, which does a better job of sealing the joints and won't create any obstruction on the inside of the ducts.  

This type of ducting, will speed up your clothes drying time and reduce your utility bills. 

Corrugated Dryer Vent

Semi-Rigid Aluminum Ducting (Good)

Semi-rigid aluminum ducting comes in a variety of grades from quite soft and flimsy to nearly solid.  Needless to say the firmer the ducting the better.  It will hold its shape and be more resistant to crushing when your clothes dryer is moved in and out of position. 

This type of ducting is considered good but not as good as the solid vent piping described earlier.

Tip: You should install dryer ducting with  the male end of the ducting pointing in the direction of the air flow.  This will prevent lint from getting caught on the seems and  eventually blocking the duct altoghether. 

Aluminum Foil Dryer Vent

Flexible Aluminum Ducting (Not Recomended)

Flexible aluminum ducting is not recommended for dryer venting because it is too flimsy, it has a rough interior which is caused by its flexibility, it does not allow for the free flow of air and lint to the outside of the house.  Because it's more difficult for your dryer to push air through; it, therefore, adds to your energy cost and is more prone to causing dryer fires.

Corrugated Vinyl Ducting

Plastic And Vinyl Dryer Ducting (Fire Hazard)

Similar to Mylar (foil), plastic ducting is made of spiral flexible wire, with a plastic or vinyl cover and is usually white in color.  This type of ducting is no longer allowed for dryer vents.   If you have purchased it or if you are still using it as, dryer vent, it should be removed and rigid or semi-rigid ducting should be installed immediately.  This type of ducting is a great fire hazard and has been known to cause many dryer fires in the past. 

The use of this type of ducting for dryers will void your warranty with most appliance manufacturer. 

Dryer Vent Hood Types

Why is the dryer vent hood type important?  The dryer vent hood/cap should do a good job of keeping out birds and small animals as well as letting out all the lint that reaches it along with all the warm moist air.  The dryer hood should also prevent as much cold air as possible from sneaking back into your home. 

No matter how great your dryer vent hood is, there is no substitute for regular cleaning and maintenance of your dryer's ducts and hood.

In order to accomplish this, manufacturers have come up with an array of different types of dryer hoods, some good and some not so good.  Here are just a few. 

Dryer Vent Hood

Heartland 21000 Dryer Vent Closure

This dryer vent hood from Hartland and probably one of the best on the market.  It has no flaps or mesh to catch escaping lint from your dryer.  Instead, it has a cap that lifts when your dryer is blowing out warm moist air.  There is no obstruction to stop or catch lint and the cap closes by floating back down when the dryer turns off.  This way, no cold air can leak back into the house through your dryer vent and best of all no birds or small animals can get in either. More:

Metal Dryer Vent Hood

Lambro Industries 4" HD Galvenized Dryer Vent Hood

This HD sturdy all steel construction dryer hood is made to last.  It has a  painted surface for a neat appearance.  The flapper door has a foam seal that keeps the noise down and provides a nice clean seal. The recessed flapper makes it difficult for birds and small animals to gain access to the ducting.  The large opening is great to let any dryer lint out without catching on a mesh or grid.  Less frequent cleaning necessary. More:

No Pest Dryer Vent

P-tec Products Inc NPVW No-Pest Vent

This is another design worthy of consideration,  it has a no pest design with a double flapper.  Animals and birds would have to hold up the first flapper while trying to open the second one a the same time, somewhat impossible. It can be used for bathroom fans, dryer vents, and range hoods.  The tough UV resistant 4" plastic cap, means years of dependability.  The exclusive double door design keeps pest out while minimizing drafts and wind claps and at the same time keeps lint from collecting around the vent.  More:

Dryer Wall Vent

Metal Dryer Wall Vent

This dryer vent is made of galvanized steel and powder coated.  It has a magnetic door that stays closed when the dyer is not running.  This design keeps birds and small animals out.  Since there is no flaps or mesh to get in the way of airflow or lint,  there is no build-up of lint that needs to be removed on a regular basis.  

This item is available from CMR Air Duct Cleaning Service in Raleigh-Durham, NC,  call 919-285-2153 for service.   


International Building Code:

Building Code

Louvered Dryer Vent Hood

Louvered Dryer Vent Hood

This is an example of a louvered dryer vent hood that has not seen proper maintenance.  The louver blades prevent lint from escaping to the outside and therefore can cause the ducting to get filled with lint, making it much more difficult for the dryer to properly dry clothing, and makes it much more susceptible to costly dryer fires.

This also adds to energy costs and takes much longer to dry clothes.  More:

Clogged Dryer Vent Cap

Super Guard Dryer Vent Hood

Although this type of hood is great at keeping out birds and small animal, it's not so good at getting rid of dryer lint.  This is where regular maintenance is a must.  You should not go long periods of time without cleaning this hood of lint.  The back up caused by the excess lint buildup can damage your dryer, take longer to dry, increase energy costs and be prone to dryer fires.  More:

Venting Hood

Imperial Mfg GG-4W 4 Inch Louvered Dryer Vent Cap

This dryer vent cap is not too expensive and it comes with louvers and a metal screen that many people are looking for.  However, the louvers and the metal screen is a really good lint catcher and causes this cap to get block by lint in short time. 

This type of cap, although great for keeping small animal and birds out is not allowed for  clothes dryer venting, under the International building code and would need to be cleaned on a regular basis, in order to prevent a clogged venting pipe and possible dryer fire. I recommend that you use this type of vent, on a bathroom fan or range hood only.  More:

Cutting a Dryer Vent Hole Through a Wall

Whether you require a new hole through wood or concrete for your dryer vent, the procedure is quite similar except for actually cutting the hole.  There are a number of excellent videos on this subject and I have listed just a few below.

Locating Your Dryer Vent Exhaut Hole

Your dryer should be vented to the outside of your house.  You will need to find a suitable location for this exhaust, it must be at least one foot off the ground and one foot away from any other element such as a door, window or deck.  Once the perfect spot has been located, you will need to drill a pilot hole from the inside of the house to the outside, if you stick a piece of wire or another small object, through the hole you will be able to identify its location from the other side, more easily.  

Cutting The Hole Through The Wall

When cutting the hole it's best to use a round hole saw, you can do it with a jigsaw or a reciprocating saw, but the hole will be kind of rough. To keep things neat use a 4-1/8" bi-metal hole saw.  When cutting a hole through brickwork or concrete make sure you use the appropriate saw for this type of material.

You can either purchase a concrete hole saw or consider renting one from your local tool rental company.  

Cutting Through The Exterior Wall Of Your House

If your cutting through Aluminum or Wood siding you can use a bi-metal hole saw. Cut from both sides of the house.  This will keep your outside siding looking good, you don't want to tear or rip through the outside siding.  

Drilling Through A Brick Wall

Drilling through brick or concrete requires special tools.  If you don't have a concrete bit or saw you might want to purchase or rent one from your local tool rental place.  Concrete bits have a specially harden Carbide tip to easily penetrate through brick or concrete.  Make sure the drill bit is long enough to go straight through from one side of the wall to the other, otherwise your holes won't line up.  

Drilling A Pilot Hole From The Inside Of The House

Almost always, you will want to drill a pilot hole from the inside of the house to the outside.  Try to avoid things like plumbing which should not be on an outside wall or electrical wiring that may be in the way.  Hold the drill as level as possible, so that you end up with a horizontal hole, otherwise, things will not look good.  

Diamond Core Hole Saw

If your house a brick or masonry exterior consider buying or renting a Diamond Core saw, it will do the job in a much shorter time and will go through either brick or concrete fairly easily.  

Drilling The Hole

You can start drilling from the inside, you can use a bi-metal hole saw to drill through the soft stuff like drywall, plywood or wood sheeting.  But if you are planning to use a Diamond Core saw anyway,  you can use it to cut from the inside as well.  You will want to partially drill through the brick on the outside wall while you are at it.   This will keep your hole straight and you will have less time to spend outside in the elements. 

Drilling Through Brick On The Outside Of Your Home

Depending on where you plan to drill your hole, you might require the use of a ladder.  Then start drilling from the outside surface towards to inside of the house.  This will keep the outside hole nice and neat.  Be sure to wear both ear and eye protection for this task.  

Job Done

Here you can see a perfectly drill hole through a drywall interior and a brick exterior.  Ready for your dryer ductwork to be installed. 

image sources

  • GettyImages-530054845-56cb3ad95f9b5879cc542bfa: GettyImages-530054845-56cb3ad95f9b5879cc542bfa
  • FH04DJA_DRYVNT_02: The Family Handyman
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