Dryers should never be run without a vent. Doing so poses serious safety and health risks such as mold issues, bad air quality, fire risk, or in cases of gas dryers, even carbon monoxide poisoning. A good alternative is to buy a ventless dryer as those models are designed to run without a vent and are safe.
I remember that it didn’t take long for me to grow tired of planning my laundry around other people’s schedules after moving into my first apartment, which only had a communal laundry room. While I could have purchased my own appliances, it wasn’t exactly feasible for me to have a vent installed into a property I didn’t own. Instead, I wondered if it would be possible not to vent a dryer at all.
If you’re here, you’re probably wondering the same thing I was, though you likely have your own reasons! Let’s cut to the chase; a dryer should not be run without a vent installed. Do you want to know why it is dangerous and what is its safe alternative? Then keep scrolling!
Dryers Need Proper Ventilation
Dryer vents serve a greater purpose than just blowing air out so that more can be sucked in.
By expelling air, they also remove the humidity created by heating up wet clothing, and they pull lint away from clothing as it dries.
Whether you choose to vent your dryer out the soffit, the wall, or the roof, it’s extremely important to send your dryer waste outdoors. This applies to electric dryers and gas dryers alike. Let’s take a look at why.
Never Run a Vented Dryer Without the Dryer Vent
At first, the vent’s function of removing a little moisture and dust may not sound particularly important. However, failing to vent your dryer outside can pose multiple safety risks for your home and your body.
It may not seem like this is the case at first, but much of the damage caused by not venting your dryer is likely to occur gradually. You won’t become aware of it until it is too late to prevent the major issues that it will inevitably cause.
On top of these issues, which I will take you through in the next section, venting a dryer inside is against the International Residential Code (IRC M1502.2). So, it is safe to assume that not connecting the dryer to a vent, which essentially means that all the used air ends up being vented inside, is also against the code.
Not to mention the manufacturers specifically state that vented dryers need to be connected to a dryer vent. They provide precise instructions on how to do that in their manuals, some even stating that:
“Failure to follow these instructions can result in death or fire.”
But if all this is not enough for you, let’s look at the potential safety risks you would be facing if you didn’t connect your dryer to a vent.
Safety Risks of Running Vented Dryer With No Vent
The Quality of the Air Will Rapidly Decrease
Most of the lint created by a dryer is collected by its lint screen. However, lint particles on their own are very small, and some will always find their way into places they shouldn’t be in.
This means that by not routing your dryer’s vent outdoors, you can drastically increase the amount of dust and lint in your home.
This can cause sneezing or other breathing-related irritation. Not to mention, you’ll have to clean more frequently to try and keep all that lint at bay.
Not Venting Dryer Can Cause Mold and Mildew
One of a dryer vent’s primary purposes is to remove moisture, but without a route to the outdoors, this moist air will linger in your home.
Moist, humid air is never a great thing indoors, as it creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow. Over time, this can even cause structural damage.
These are not just costly problems to fix, but breathing in moldy air isn’t good for your health either. It’s always important to prevent its growth, whether in the bathroom, the laundry room, or anywhere else in the home.
The Dryer Can Become a Fire Hazard
Not only can the buildup of lint worsen the air quality, but it provides another type of hazard—it increases the risk of a fire.
The lint that makes it through a filter and out the vent will instead be free to float in your home. Since dryers operate by sucking in air to heat up, it’s possible for this lint to be sucked back into your dryer and settle in dangerous locations.
For example, if enough lint builds up inside your dryer by the heating element, it could start a fire.
Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Gas Dryers
On top of all the other concerns regarding failure to ventilate a dryer, a gas dryer without proper ventilation becomes a severe health hazard.
When gas burns, it releases carbon monoxide. If you breathe in too much of it, you may experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including dizziness, confusion, chest pain, and weakness.
In a high enough dose, carbon monoxide can be deadly.
Suffice it to say that you absolutely want to vent your dryer to the outside, especially if you own a gas dryer.
Safe Alternative: Buy a Ventless Dryer
There are two types of ventless dryers—condenser and heat pump dryers. Both options are specifically designed to be safe to operate without a vent, so they are ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to or can’t install a dryer vent in their home.
While they operate slightly differently, both remove lint and moisture in similar ways.
The moisture created by drying clothes is condensed and drained as water rather than vented out while it is still in its evaporated form. Depending on the dryer model, this draining occurs either through a drain hose or the condensed water collects in a container that must be manually emptied.
This means that the only major maintenance concern for a ventless dryer is lint, which should be cleaned frequently, but that’s true for vented dryers as well!
For more information on whether a ventless dryer will suit your needs, you may want to check out my article about its pros and cons.