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Can You Vent a Dryer Into a Crawl Space? (5 Reasons Not to)

Can You Vent a Dryer Into a Crawl Space? (5 Reasons Not to)

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Dryers are behind the magic of removing pounds of water from your laundry via heat, venting the water in the form of vapor. They ensure quick drying while keeping clothes soft.

A question that pops here is, can you vent a dryer into a crawl space?

The answer is no. Running your venting system right into your house can do you much harm and even compromise your safety.

In this article, we’ll dive into why you shouldn’t vent your dryer into a crawl space, how to run your venting system safely, and what to consider when setting up your venting system.

Keep on reading!

Why Shouldn’t You Vent a Dryer Into a Crawl Space?

Your venting system is responsible for getting rid of the moisture and lint that are a result of the drying process.

Venting such things into a crawl space can be harmful in the following ways:

1 – Mold Growth

The air surrounding you is carrying all sorts of stuff, including tiny mold spores. These spores attach to and grow in spaces with high humidity and mild temperature.

That being said, pumping a huge amount of moist air into your crawl space creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth.

Keep in mind that such areas don’t have much access to the sun, which means they won’t dry out easily.

2 – Dusty House

This one might not seem critical, but it’s definitely annoying!

The lint released from the dried clothes will be flying all over the place. These tiny threads will stick to the surfaces, making everything look dusty.

Of course, regular polishing and cleaning can minimize the issue a little, but it won’t be that convenient as the lint accumulates.

3 – Fire Hazard

One of the major downsides of venting inside a crawl space is how much heat you’re releasing into your home.

The amount of heat generated, alongside the trapped lint, can be pretty risky, especially in a confined space.

According to the United States Fire Administration, dryers are responsible for approximately 3,000 house fires annually!

4 – Structural Damage

Over time, the high humidity and moisture released from the dryer will sneak into your walls, floors, and ceilings, which can cause structural damage.

You can detect water damage in the form of buckling walls, sagging ceilings, and cracking floors.

Moisture overload can cause wood to rot, and in case you’re venting in your basement, this rot can extend to your floors, making them super brittle.

5 – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A major health risk associated with indoor venting is suffocation by carbon monoxide. If lint or dirt obstructs your duct, harmful gases will build inside your home.

Sadly, you can face this issue with any clogged vent, even if it exhausts outside.

Signs of poisoning to watch out for include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion

Luckily, you can seek professional help to clear your vent regularly.

How to Safely Vent Your Dryer?

A rule of thumb is to always vent your dryer to the outside. The water vapor, lint, and heat that get pumped out must not stay in your home.

You’ll need to determine the shortest route between your dryer and the outside, where you can vent. Then, you should run your ductwork through the crawl space and to the vent’s pipe.

Ideally, your pipe should be nearly 12 inches above the ground.

Does the Material of the Vent Matter?

The answer is definitely yes! The material used in your vent pipes can influence both efficiency and safety.

There’s a variety of options to choose from based on your needs, including:

Plastic/Vinyl

The high flexibility and ease of use of plastic/vinyl pipes can be very tempting. Yet, most building codes don’t allow it now due to their high fire hazard potential.

Additionally, plastic entraps lint rapidly, and wet lint can form clumps that will obstruct the airflow and increase the risk of catching fire.

On top of that, plastic doesn’t have suitable structural strength. Over time, it tends to sag, which increases lint build-up.

Eventually, the air passing through the pipe will be less, and the drying time will be longer. This overloads the dryer and can burn the motor.

Aluminum Foil

Tubes with many folds in their designs, or rough interiors, can easily trap lint. Unfortunately, this is the case with aluminum ducts. This jeopardizes your dryer’s performance and can pose a fire hazard.

The good thing about aluminum pipes, though, is their affordable cost.

Rigid Metal

We highly recommend using hard metal pipes for your dryer’s ductwork. Their interior design is smooth and allows airflow with minimum friction. This lowers the lint’s build-up and boosts your dryer’s work.

A con for this type is that it falls on the pricier side.

What Are the Building Codes for Vents?

Building codes are a set of rules put by the International Residential Code. They ensure that whatever adjustments you add to your home won’t affect your building’s integrity.

These codes state that you must direct any exhaust system outside your house. Taking that into consideration, venting into the crawl space under your house is prohibited.

What About Ventless Dryers?

In some cases, venting your dryer to the outside might not be convenient. You could be renting or a bit short on cash for new adjustments.

If this sounds familiar, ventless dryers are your best bet!

These dryers don’t use a venting system. They feature a built-in cooling system that condenses the hot exhaust air in a separate container. You’ll need to empty the reservoir regularly, though.

Note that the filters used in the ventless dryers tend to collect lint, so they’ll need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

Final Thoughts

Can you vent a dryer into a crawl space? The answer is no. You shouldn’t do it for quite a few reasons.

The high moisture and lint can inflict structural damage on your house. You also run the risk of mold and mildew growth, in addition to dusty surfaces.

Besides, the heat generated can pose a fire hazard, especially if lint obstructs the duct. What’s more, exhaust gas can be high in carbon monoxide, which can cause poisoning.

Having said that, we advise you to use an outside vent or a ventless dryer to keep your house safe and healthy.

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