My Dryer will not Dry My Clothes

Crushed Dryer Vent

“My dryer will not dry my clothes” is usually the beginning of most of my conversations with customers.  People rarely think about their dryer let alone the dryer venting until signs begin to point toward something being not quite alright.  This is the case with this recent customer visit, who contacted me because the dryer wasn’t drying her clothes.  And then once inside the door, she assured me because of a recent service visit that the dryer itself was working just fine.  Well it sounds like an airflow issue to me.

When a dryer is no longer drying close, there is usually only one question I need to ask.  Is the dryer warm inside?  Because dryers need two things in order to dry your clothes.  Heat and airflow.  If either one is missing, the process is going to get very slow. And if I am told the dryer is indeed getting warm, then I can be pretty confident the problem lies within the dryer venting.

Dryer venting is a pretty basic process.  Get the air from the back of the dryer to the outside in as short a path and in as straight a line as possible.  Air does not like to make bends and it really doesn’t like to be slowed down.  Much like using your garden hose, start adding some bends or restricting the water flow by stepping on the hose, the water will slow down accordingly.  Fortunately there are some very specific building codes to ensure your dryer not only is creating great airflow potential for your dryer, but it is safe as well.  Unfortunately, most builders, home inspectors, building inspectors, fire inspectors, and homeowners have no idea what those codes actually mean and thus most poorly designed systems never get a second look. That is until down the road when a problem occurs.

The photo above simply shows the problem that was occurring here.  At some point in time, the homeowner had the dryer vent redone and like most handymen do, they went to the big box store and purchased some ducting. “A couple 8 foot sections of this flexible stuff should do the trick” I am sure is what the thinking was.  Hook it all together and things will be swell.  Well it did work for a couple years, but a poorly designed system will always have a lifespan and it will always cost more in the long run.

Back to the photo, notice there is no elbow. The flexible ducting was simply bent to fit through the opening and around other obstacles. The fix was actually quite easy and likely not much more than this initial repair.  The difference, is the correct ducting material was used.  All codes requirements observed and best of all, it will never have to be done again.