By Tony Carrick | Updated Mar 2, 2022 2:43 PM
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Replacing an old dryer vent may not be high on your list of home repairs, but it’s an issue you shouldn’t ignore. A failing dryer vent will hurt your dryer’s efficiency at best and, at worst, cause it to overheat and become a fire hazard. Because dryer vents are recesses between your home’s interior and exterior, they can potentially allow animals, insects, and cold air inside.
These devices vent the hot, humid air generated by your clothes dryer through a hose and out to the exterior of your house. Dryer vents and hoses are made of durable, flame-retardant materials that can stand up to the intense heat created by your dryer. Most vents have built-in guards that keep mice, birds, and insects from entering your home through the vent.
If the vent on your dryer needs replacing, read on to learn more about how to select a vent that best suits your home.
Understanding the parts of a dryer vent, and how and where they’re installed in your home, is essential to choosing the right one. Read on to learn more about how dryer vents work, what types are available, and what factors you should consider when installing one.
Though you can buy indoor and outdoor types of dryer vents, outdoor vents are the safest and most common. An outdoor vent attaches to the outer wall of your home and connects to your clothes dryer via a hose that is between 4 and 6 inches in diameter. Moist air produced by the dryer travels through the hose and out the vent to the exterior of the home.
Clothes dryers that don’t have access to an exterior wall, such as those in condominiums and apartments, may require an indoor dryer vent. These dryer vents also connect to a dryer via a hose but mount to an interior wall near the dryer as opposed to the home’s exterior. They have filters that trap stray lint before pumping the air back into the room. These filters must be cleaned periodically to prevent clogging. Indoor dryer vents are only compatible with electric dryers because gas dryers release carbon monoxide and therefore must be vented outdoors.
A dryer vent has two parts: the cover and the hose. The hose connects to the back of the dryer and runs to the vent, which is mounted on the house. On the vent, there’s a cover that protects the opening from the elements and prevents mice and other small animals from getting into the house through the vent. Many vents have a cap that is forced open with hot air from the dryer, allowing the moist air to vent outdoors.
Dryer hoses are made from flexible aluminum foil and steel wire. The hoses are flexible, so you have to bend them to run from dryer to vent. They’re also fire resistant and can endure the intense heat that dryers create. Do not use vinyl hoses intended for bathroom vents with clothes dryer vents—the dryer’s intense heat can melt the plastic, creating a fire hazard. The dryer vent that attaches to the outside of the home is made from either metal sheeting or durable vinyl or plastic. Indoor dryer vents consist of an aluminum screen that catches lint and a polyester filter that traps smaller dust particles.
Dryer vents measure about 6 or 7 inches wide and 6 or 7 inches tall with 4- or 5-inch openings. They attach to the home via a square mounting plate with four screws. The hoses that run between the clothes dryer and the vent are generally 4 inches in diameter, but those on larger dryers can be as wide as 6 inches.
Dryer vents come in a few shapes. One of the most common is a louvered vent that sits flush to the side of your house when not in use; angled vents that jut out a few inches from the side of the house are also popular.
It’s critical to unclog your dryer vents periodically. Dryer exhaust typically carries a significant amount of lint along with it, which can collect in the hose and vent, eventually clogging the airway. This flammable material combined with the heat created by the dryer—which can reach 135 degrees—creates a fire hazard if it builds up. Clean the dryer vent at least once a year to prevent lint from building up in the hose or vent.
While dryer vents are relatively simple to install, it’s important to remember these key guidelines.
Dryer vent hoses range in diameter from 4 to 6 inches, so make sure you purchase the size that fits your dryer.
Make sure the dryer is pulled far enough away from the wall to prevent kinking the hose, which can restrict airflow or trap lint, causing the dryer to overheat. If clearance is an issue, consider purchasing a vent style that requires minimal space between the back of the dryer and the wall, such as a periscope vent or a recessed vent box.
When installing an indoor or outdoor dryer vent, securely attach the hose to the dryer’s exhaust tube and the vent using galvanized full clamps to prevent it from coming loose.
The top picks for the best dryer vents for the home are made of flame-retardant materials, offer excellent airflow, maximize space in small laundry rooms, and have built-in protective flaps and screens.
Dryer vents sometimes feature cheap construction or a design that allows bugs and even mice to gain access to your home. Calimaero addresses both problems beautifully with this attractive, functional, and durable dryer vent cover. It features a handsome stainless steel design that’s more durable than comparable plastic models. There’s no cracking from UV damage with this cover.
It also has a flap design that opens with the force of air when the dryer is running and closes when it is not, preventing bugs and critters from invading your dryer (remember, you will need to clean the louvers periodically to keep them free of lint). Its stainless steel gasket ensures a weatherproof connection to your home. The vent cover comes in three sizes to fit 4-, 5-, and 6-inch-diameter hoses.
When there isn’t enough clearance behind your clothes dryer to accommodate a 4-inch dryer tube, a periscope vent, such as this model from Whirlpool, offers an innovative solution. This model uses a narrow duct that connects from the dryer to the dryer vent. The 6.5-inch-wide duct requires just 2.5 inches of clearance between the wall and the dryer, making it one of the best space-saving wall vents you can buy.
This model comes in two pieces, allowing you to adjust the distance between the two outputs from 0 inches to a maximum of 18 inches in length from center to center of each hole. It’s compatible with 4-inch dryer tubes. This model includes two full clamps for creating a tight connection between the dryer exhaust, dryer tube, and vent.
One way of solving clearance issues behind your clothes dryer is to install a recessed vent box, such as this model from Dryerbox. This model recesses 4.25 inches into drywall between the studs with an upward-facing vent hole. This dramatically reduces the 5 or 6 inches of clearance typically needed to prevent the hose from kinking, allowing the dryer to sit almost flush to the wall. Voilà—extra space around your dryer! Keep in mind that this depth will work with walls with 2×6 studs or 2×4 studs with 1-inch furring strips.
The Dryerbox can mount on the floor or mid-wall to best suit your dryer design. It’s compatible with 4-inch dryer hoses and has an optional knockout for a gas line for gas-powered dryers. The entire vent measures 21 inches tall and 9.5 inches wide.
With its varying length options, durable construction, and included hardware, this duct from iPower is a great accompaniment to both gas and electric dryers. It’s constructed of flame-retardant aluminum foil and is rated up to 185 degrees, so it can easily handle the heat a dryer pumps out. Steel wire reinforcement maintains the tube’s shape while resisting crushing forces. Its accordion-like coil design adjusts from 4.5 inches when it’s completely folded to 8 feet when it’s fully extended.
This tube includes two clamps that ensure a solid connection to the dryer and the dryer vent. It’s available in lengths up to 25 feet and diameters between 4 and 6 inches, so it’s easy to find a model to suit your specifications.
Keep rodents, bugs, and cold air from infiltrating your home via the dryer hose with this vent closure from Heartland. While other vent covers include flaps that can be blown open by the wind or clogged with lint, this model from Heartland takes it to another level. It features an enclosed cup that seals the opening to the dryer vent when not in use.
When the dryer runs, the cup lifts, allowing hot air and lint to escape. When the dryer shuts off, the cup falls back into place, creating a tight seal over the hole. The vent is made of high-grade plastic designed to endure harsh weather and attaches to your home via a square base and four predrilled holes. It’s compatible with a standard 4-inch dryer tube.
With its substantial filtering capability, this indoor dryer vent from BetterVent is an excellent option when you have a dryer with no access to an external wall. The biggest concern most people have when venting their dryer indoors is how recirculating dryer air will affect the air quality in your home. This vent features a dual stainless steel and polyester filter that removes dust from the air as it passes through.
The unit, which measures 15 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 5 inches thick, mounts easily to a wall. Quick-release clips allow you to remove the filter easily for periodic cleaning. If you forget to clean the filter, a safety vent flap will open when it’s 80 percent full to prevent your dryer from overheating. The filter attaches to a standard 4-inch hose.
This well-designed wall-mount vent provides an exhaust point for your dryer while protecting the dryer vent from mice, insects, and cold air. The calimaero HWG features durable brushed stainless steel construction and is compatible with 4-, 5- or 6-inch dryer hoses. A metal flap on the vent’s interior opens when the dryer runs. When the dryer is not in use, the flap closes to prevent animals from entering the dryer hose.
When the flap is closed, a foam stopper on the inside of the flap creates a tight seal that keeps cold air out while ensuring quiet operation, and a rubber gasket around the square frame creates a tight fit to the exterior of the home. The vent includes a 2-inch-long metal tube for an easy connection to the dryer tube on the interior.
Shoppers looking for a sharp-looking quality vent should consider our top pick, the calimaero dryer vent cover, boasting stainless steel construction and easy installation. For homeowners with space issues looking to squeeze a dryer into a tight space, the Whirlpool vent periscope is worth a look.
When gathering our top picks for dryer vents, we looked specifically at the materials used in construction to provide a range of options for shoppers, from durable stainless steel to lightweight aluminum or plastic. This also allowed us to offer products across a wide range of price points—from quick and budget-friendly fixes to more long-lasting solutions for shoppers looking for the highest quality. Regardless of price, our list of recommendations includes products made by reputable brands, and each of our top picks is easy to install and maintain.
Since exterior vents are often perfect places for critters to gain access to a home, we made sure to provide several options for vents that will close automatically when not in use, ensuring a tight and impenetrable seal to keep your homes free from unwanted guests.
If you’re still wondering which dryer vent is right for your laundry room, look below for answers to some of the most common questions about these devices.
A standard tube dryer vent requires about 6 inches of clearance between the back of the dryer and the wall in order to function properly. Moving the dryer too close to the wall can pinch the tube, inhibiting the airflow. A periscope-style dryer vent or recessed dryer vent box will reduce the clearance to just a couple of inches, which makes this kind of vent ideal for tight spaces.
A dryer vent should be cleaned about once a year depending on the size of the family and how often you use the dryer.
The maximum length of a dryer vent hose should not exceed 35 feet. A longer dryer vent can actually negatively affect the efficiency of the dryer, causing it to take longer to dry clothes.
When replacing an existing dryer vent, first make sure to purchase the proper size hose. Remove the old vent by unscrewing the fasteners holding it to the exterior of the house. Remove the old dryer hose from the rear of the dryer and the interior wall. Mount the new dryer vent to the exterior of the home using the existing vent hole. You may need to apply caulk to seal the edges of the vent to the home if there is no gasket. Attach the new dryer tube to the rear of the dryer and the vent using two galvanized full clamps.
Buy a dryer vent designed to prevent birds from nesting in the vent. Ideal for this purpose are flap-style vents that close when the dryer is not in use, which prevents rodents and birds from getting into the vent.
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