This past winter I had a problem with my laundry getting very cold, and I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. I have an HVAC vent feeding into the laundry room, and that was blowing hot air. After a few days of trying to figure out where the problem was, I found out that I had a stuck dryer vent.
If you are starting to notice that your laundry room is cold or has a cold draft where you never use to have one, this could be caused from a stuck or broken dryer vent that leads outside, or from bad caulking that is used to seal the vent cover on the exterior.
Dryer lint traps do a great job at collecting most of the lint, but they don’t always catch it all. Sometimes that lint that makes its way through the vent will attach itself to the flapper on the exterior. Over time that lint will build up to the point where the flapper will no longer be able to close. That will allow the cold air to flow through the open vent flapper, down the vent, and into the dryer, and then out into the laundry room.
Most of the time you should be able to clean off the lint to get the flappers working again, but if you find that cleaning it doesn’t solve the problem and flappers remains open, you should look at buying a replacement since they are inexpensive. A new dryer vent can be picked up at any hardware store or online for around $6 to $10.
Now, if you find out that a stuck dryer vent flap was not the problem, then take a look at the caulking around the vent cover to see if that is cracking, or coming off. If the caulking is all cracked and falling apart, it is better to take a utility knife and scrape away all of the old caulking so you can apply a new fresh seal around the cover.
How Do You Keep Cold Air From Coming Through The Dryer Vent?
One of the easiest and low-cost ways to keep cold air from coming through the dryer vent is to install what is called a “Dryer Vent Draft Blocker.” A dryer vent draft blocker gets installed on the interior of the home, and it goes between the vent ductwork and exterior wall opening.
You can be purchase one from your local hardware store or off Amazon for under $8 depending on the style you choose.
The draft blocker is simple to install yourself and only takes about 5 minutes to do.
- (2) 4 Inch Duct Clamps
Step 1 – Remove the dryer vent that is currently heading out through the wall.
Step 2 – Ensure that the draft blocker arrow is pointing in the right direction and that the flap opens and closes correctly using gravity to keep it closed.
Step 3 – Attach the vent to the blocker using one of the 4-inch duct clamps.
Step 4 – Attach the other end of the draft blocker to the vent leading out of the home and secure it with a 4-inch duct clamp. (make sure to connect the draft blocker with the arrows pointing in the proper directions to ensure it’ll work properly).
Do Dryers Need To Be Vented Outside?
Yes, dryers do need to get vented outside, and there are good reasons for that. The main reason is that depending on where you live it’s most likely the law. The International Residential Code established by the International Code Council(IRC) requires that all residential dwellings must exhaust all dryer systems to vent to the outside of the home.
Not to mention, if you have a gas dryer, the gas dryer exhausts carbon monoxide which is odorless and very harmful to humans and animals. If this toxic gas fills your home you could become very sick, or even worst, die.
Another reason that you need to vent your dryer to the outside is that the dryer lets off a lot of hot, humid air which contains wet traces of lint. This combination could moisten dryer wall and wooden framing and eventually spawn mold growth.
Can Cold Weather Affect My Dryer?
One question I was asking myself was whether on not the cold air coming in through the open flapper was going to have any negative effects on my dryer. As it turns out, the cold weather wouldn’t be a problem for the dryer itself. However, you do want to keep an eye on the flapper to make sure it doesn’t get frozen shut.
You’ll have several problems if your flapper is frozen shut, such as:
- The dryer will take longer to dry your clothes and use much more energy.
- Your dryer could overheat and possibly start a fire due to a lack of air flow.
- Excess lint build-up in the dryer could catch fire.
- With a gas dryer, poisonous carbon monoxide fumes would have nowhere to go but inside your home.
- The extra humidity in your laundry room could cause mold growth on walls and wooden surfaces.
Best Exterior Dryer Vent Cover
One of the best exterior dryer vent covers I have seen is called the Heartland Natural Vent. Not only does this vent work great at keeping cold air from entering, but it also blocks pests and insects from getting through and into your home.
The Heartland Natural Vent doesn’t have any flappers or built-in screens to worry about, but instead, it has an internal cap that lifts from air flow while the dryer is running. When the dry stops and there is no more air flow, the cap falls back down to keep cold air from entering.
Best of all, because this vent cover will always prevent cold air from coming in, it is going to help save you money by conserving energy.
Every year in the U.S. there are over 25,000 dryer vent fires that are mainly caused by lint building up in the vent or under the dryer. It is a little more costly than your typical dryer vent flapper but it does the trick, and it’ll last much longer.
Currently, at the time of this writing, Amazon has them on for $34.99 (click here for current price). However, you might be able to pick one of these up from your local hardware store.
Dryer Vent Flap Not Closing
Dryer flaps are an essential part of your dryer vent which prevents cold air, insects, and rodents from entering your home, and from time to time those flappers become jammed, clogged or damaged to the point where they will no longer close on their own.
Below are a few of the more common reasons why your dryer vent flap might not be closing.
Problem: Built-up lint preventing the flaps from closing.
Solution: Remove the lint and it should close.
Problem: One or more of the flaps are bent.
Solution: If you are unable to bend it back to where it still functions, you may need to buy a new one.
Problem: Dirt, grime, and rainwater mixed could cause the flaps to stick.
Solution: Give the flaps and the surrounding area a good wipe down to see if this solves the problem.
Problem: Metal flapper can sometimes rust, causing things to seize up.
Solution: Apply a few drops of a non-flammable lubricant along the sides of each flapper to help get things moving again.
Problem: Broken or missing vent flapper.
Solution: If your flapper is broken or missing you should replace it right away.