When you are staring at your dryer, trying to figure out where to start cutting holes in your walls or ceilings, it’s really tempting to find an alternative solution. The only viable alternative is a ventless dryer. Otherwise, you just have to get the vent system installed.
There are some serious repercussions to omitting a dryer venting system.
If dryers are unvented, heat, moisture, lint, and gases will stay in the home. Heat overworks the HVAC, reduces comfort, damages walls, and overheats the dryer. Moisture damages materials, creates puddles, can enter outlets, and causes mold growth. Lint is messy and a fire risk. Gases are harmful to health.
Dryer Vents Are Important
Dryer vents are important because they allow dryer byproducts to safely escape the home. These include heat, water, and lint.
Dryers can get as hot as 135 °F (57.2 °C) on average. If not evacuated, this heat can disrupt your home’s temperature.
Additionally, your dryer removes anywhere from a half gallon to two gallons of water from each load, depending on its size. All that water needs to go somewhere!
While the majority of lint gets caught in the dryer lint trap, some small bits will still make it through the trap and into the vent itself. If you don’t have ductwork that properly exhausts this air, the lint will simply accumulate in your laundry room.
Lastly, gas dryers can also put off combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide, which can be a direct and acute hazard to your health.
Let’s look at all of these things in more detail.
Heat Will Be Exhausted Into the Room
Effect on HVAC System
In the winter, you might be inclined to think of the extra heat from your dryer as a benefit that helps save on heating costs.
Unfortunately, however, the high volume of moisture and the lint that are also evacuated from your dryer vent completely negate that potential positive (we’ll talk more about those issues in a moment).
Moreover, during warmer seasons, this additional heat will only put your HVAC system under more strain.
In addition to higher bills, the harder your HVAC system has to work to bring the temperature up or down to your desired setting, the more worn out it will become and the shorter its lifespan will be, just like any other appliance.
Discomfort Is Caused
Making your HVAC system work overtime in the summer isn’t the only heat-related drawback of failing to vent your dryer outdoors.
You’ll be the one sweating and suffering from discomfort when the additional heat that your dryer creates filters through your home!
Heat Can Damage the Wall Behind the Dryer
So, heat isn’t good for you or your HVAC system. As it turns out, it can be bad for your home itself, too.
Assuming your dryer is placed near a wall and/or in a relatively enclosed space, the heat it releases can damage your paintwork.
Typically paint is damaged by heat and excessive sun exposure, but over time heat alone can also cause issues.
Excessive exposure to heat in one spot can cause the discoloration, peeling, bubbling, or cracking of paint. In combination with moisture, which a dryer also releases, heat can even encourage mold growth.
Dryer Surrounded by Heat Can Overheat
Most laundry rooms are generally small, enclosed spaces. With no vent taking heat outdoors, released dryer heat will simply accumulate in the small area around it.
Once your dryer is surrounded by heat, its own internal heat will eventually have nowhere to go and will be trapped inside. Furthermore, the air being pulled into the dryer will already be hot. The result is an overheating dryer, which will shut off once temperatures pass a certain point.
Overheating can also damage your clothing, causing burns or shrinkage.
Lastly, overheating is simply a fire hazard, especially if any lint in or around the dryer has not been properly cleaned and removed!
Moisture Is Released Into the Room
Effect of Moisture on Paint and Plaster
Depending on the materials that make up your laundry room and any nearby spaces, the moisture that your dryer removes from your clothing could have a negative effect once released inside your home.
Damage to paint and plaster is just one way that any released moisture could affect your home. If enough moisture accumulates, you may end up with sweating walls, peeling or chipping paint, or stains.
If moisture manages to seep into your plaster walls, you could also be looking at cracks, mold, or walls that are simply structurally weaker after having been saturated with water.
Wood and Metal Can Become Compromised
Paint and plaster are not the only materials that can come to harm when dryer condensation builds up.
Wood is another material that can easily become a home to mold when consistently exposed to water. Additionally, it may rot much faster than it would if it remained dry.
Metal is also a concern. Most metal materials do not stand up well to moisture, rusting or corroding when in contact with water.
In short, it’s not good to let your dryer’s condensation escape freely into a room!
Puddles Are Slipping Hazards
If there is no place for moisture to vent outdoors, it can accumulate on various indoor surfaces instead, including the floor.
This is an issue that may get overlooked when thinking about just how expensive and laborious it can be to have to replace or repair parts of a building affected by water damage.
Many people severely underestimate the dangers of slipping and falling, but slipping accounts for a whopping half of accidental deaths in the home.
Not to mention how many injuries are caused by slipping! I recently slipped on wet bathroom tiles and broke my elbow. It’s really not fun and being out of action for an extended period of time is very stressful.
You definitely don’t want to allow such a serious hazard to develop in the home.
Running Condensation Can Enter Outlets
A wet floor is not the only major safety hazard. When moisture accumulates on the walls, it can drip down into any nearby electrical outlets.
In the event that this occurs, attempting to touch or plug anything into the wet outlet has a large risk of causing an electrical shock. It is possible for this shock to cause pain, a burn, or even death.
Death is unlikely when the shock is from an outlet but better safe than sorry. My cousin discovered that she had a heart condition when she was exposed to a mild electrical shock as part of an obstacle course. For someone like her, the shock from an outlet might be fatal.
A shock is not the only risk. A wet outlet is also a fire hazard! Electrical fires are hard to put out and can cause extensive damage to you and your home.
Moisture Breeds Mold
I have already mentioned that mold can grab a foothold in wood or plaster. However, while most people know that mold is undesirable, not everyone knows just how harmful it can be!
Living with mold can cause a number of difficulties, including itchiness, coughing, and sneezing. It can also cause trouble breathing. If you already have a respiratory illness, living with mold could worsen your condition.
The longer you are exposed to mold, the worse the effects can be. Additionally, mold is notoriously difficult to get rid of for good. It multiplies by creating thousands of tiny spores that can set in again once you get rid of the original growth.
In very severe and recurring cases of mold, you may need to have the entire mold-containing area replaced, which can be very expensive.
Lint Can Accumulate
Hard to Keep up With Cleaning
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who enjoy cleaning in general. An unvented dryer means that all the lint that makes it through the lint trap will be blown straight into your home!
Assuming you do laundry at least once a week, that’s a lot of accumulated dust and lint all over your laundry room, and it’s just an extra mess can be hard to keep up with. It can also spread throughout the house.
Fire Risk Increases
As you may or may not know, lint is an extremely flammable material as it’s primarily made up of a bunch of tiny fibers that your clothing sheds and most fabrics are flammable. (In fact, a lot of people save dryer lint to use as a fire starter!)
Since it is made up of such small individual fibers, it’s also easy for lint to float around and spread to various parts of the home.
Even if you do manage to keep up with surface cleaning, it wouldn’t be unusual for lint to have found its way into various nooks and crannies, where it can build up and become more of a fire risk. (Imagine lint flying into any nearby electrical outlets….)
Gas Byproducts Are Bad for Health
If you choose to run your dryer without a vent, you may also be running the risk of filling your home with harmful gas byproducts.
This is not really an issue with electric dryers, which should not let off any harmful gasses. (Of course, all previously listed issues are still a concern!)
If you have a gas dryer, however, you may be filling your home with carbon monoxide or other harmful combustion gasses if you let it vent indoors.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be a serious health hazard. In mild cases it may simply cause symptoms like confusion, headache, or shortness of breath. In more severe cases, it may cause loss of consciousness, seizures, and even death.
Needless to say, you don’t want to let this gas build up in your home or constantly expose yourself to it every time you do the laundry!