If you read the sticker on the back of your dryer, it says to use a heavy gauge metal. There's a reason that they put that sticker there, but homeowners rarely see it. Dryer fires are not only very dangerous, but they are a lot more common than people realize. Proper cleaning and venting of a dryer can lead to a much safer dryer that actually dries clothes quicker. Some materials that are sold as dryer venting materials should never be used for a dryer. I only recommend using heavy gauge steel. So the rest of this article talks about proper dryer vent installation.
You should never run a dryer vent over 30 feet. If you do, you're asking for regular clogging of the dryer vent. Even if you change the lint catch with every load, you'll still get annual clogs. The clogging happens because the moisture condensates in the pipe instead of being pushed outside. That moisture then catches the lint and you'll get wet logs of lint in your vent. It's important to make your dryer vent run as short as possible with as few turns as possible. Plan out the length of your vent and where it's going to exhaust outside. Once you have your length it's time to buy your materials.
The sticker says to use heavy gauge metal, that means you need to use a certain thickness. The size is different from thickness. The size is 4 inches for dryer vents. Gauge is a measurement used to measure the thickness of the metal. The lower the number the thicker the metal. The thicker the metal the more heat it can withstand before failure. Try to use galvanized steel instead of aluminum. Steel can withstand a lot more heat than aluminum. The most common gauge used in residential dryer vents is 30 gauge. Personally I prefer 26 gauge, but it's harder to work with. It's harder to snap together, but it's worth it. The pipe comes in a semi circle that you have to snap together. Once you snap it together it won't come apart, but it's good practice to tape those joints. Matter of fact you should tape every joint and put three 1/4 inch screws in each joint. This will assure that the pipe stays connected and is air tight.
The dryer vent pipe should be run so that the male ends follow air flow. If you run the male (crimped) ends against airflow you create a catch for lint and moisture. Running the males with air flow is the correct way to install the pipe. It makes the vent more streamline. Being streamline is a good thing. It means more air flow and shorter drying times. It'll also extend the time needed between cleanings.
At some point you'll have to cut the pipe so that it fits. First measure the length that you'll need and then cut the pipe before you snap it together. After you cut the pipe, with a pair of tin snips, you'll have squeezed together the crimp that snaps the pipe together. Take a flat head screwdriver and open the crimp back up. This way the pipe will snap together easier. You'll also need to make another male end at some point. To make another male end on the pipe you'll need a set of crimps. Crimp the pipe all the way around the edge.
To turn the pipe you'll need to use elbows. Elbows can move from 90 degrees back to a straight 180 degrees. The elbows allow you to make turns and it's very common to have one elbow on the back of your dryer that's set to 90 degrees. Then the pipe goes towards the direction of the exhaust vent cap. The gores in the elbows allow you to set the degrees of the elbow. Be very careful when handling the elbows. If the gores snap apart they are extremely sharp and can easily deeply cut you. Try not to put a lot of pressure on elbows when running the pipe. You don't want the gores to snap apart.
Starting at the dryer is the easiest way to install the dryer vent. Keep going until you reach your exhaust vent cap and make sure to tape and screw each joint. If you don't and later on cover the pipe with a wall, you'll have a heck of a time if it breaks apart inside a wall. Not to mention all the mold you'll grow with excessive water vapor. Just do it right the first time and save yourself the headache.
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