Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DIY Dryer Vent (aka I'm Winging It)

Two weeks ago I decided I couldn't stand looking at our dryer duct work for one second longer.

When we bought this house there was all of this weird, convoluted, and decidedly dangerous tubing that was used to vent the dryer through one of the turbines in the roof. Not one single piece of this system was anything less than a code violation. I am pretty sure the previous owner did all of his home improvement projects while drunk. (I have ample evidence.) Even though I was worried about this dryer venting situation from day one, I was in no place to do anything about it. When we moved here we still had two children in diapers and one was still a nursing baby. I didn't even get all of the boxes unpacked for at least six months.

This was the terrible, code-defying scene in the attic
Two weeks ago I looked at that ridiculous snaky hose that was cut through two sides of a wall and a ceiling and decided I couldn't take it any longer. So I ripped out all of the ducting and proceeded to start over. Our utility room is located in the center of the house so I was either going to have to vent the dryer through the attic to the roof or through the attic to a soffit vent. I was nervous about cutting a hole in the roof so I ordered a soffit vent. Then I realized there was already a perfectly good roof vent (with cap and everything) directly above the dryer (accessible via the attic). Which makes me wonder why the previous owner did not use it. (Enter drunkenness theory.)

I was unable to route the new dryer duct through the utility room wall because there were too many electrical lines, plumbing lines, and even the electrical subpanel present on that wall. So I routed the duct through the ceiling, through the attic, and straight up to the roof vent. I installed a quick-connect piece at the ceiling so that I can easily disconnect the duct for cleaning.

New, rigid dryer duct in the utility room
New dryer duct passes through the ceiling via a quick-connect

I'm thrilled with the results and I can hear the dryer running as I type these words. In addition to eliminating a fire hazard I also made my dryer much more efficient. I can now dry a large load of clothes in 50 minutes instead of 70. That means I'm using almost 30% less energy to dry our clothes. I still prefer to dry most of our clothes outside on the clothesline but on rainy days like today I really appreciate the dryer.

Like almost all home repair projects, this project spawned at least three others, which is why I have been insanely busy these last two weeks. In order to install the new vent I had to tear out the old cabinets above the dryer. These cabinets served as our pantry and kitchen storage area, so they are crucial to the proper functioning of our kitchen. It took me two hours with a hammer and a cat's paw tool to pry the ancient cabinet off the wall. There was a lot of sweating and swearing involved and I bruised and scraped every finger on my left hand. But I emerged victorious.

The ugly, offending cabinet
After I had dragged the one-ton cabinet out to the driveway I had to start on drywall repair. The cabinet had left some deep gouges in the wall, not to mention the two enormous holes left by the old dryer duct (which had run from the utility room to an adjoining hallway). Drywall repair led to repainting the whole room. Repainting the walls led to repainting the ceiling, doors, and trim (because they all desperately needed it).

Tearing out the old cabinet led to a need for new shelving. I scoured my lumber collection for some good shelving boards. I came up with a total of twelve good shelves, including three which had been used as walkway across the joists in the attic. They all got a good priming and double painting and I scared up some brackets from a box in the carport. I didn't have to buy a single thing for the shelving.

Then Mr. Chanclas asked me why I was leaving a gaping hole in the other wall when I was making the rest of the room look so nice. Good question. So I decided to fix the other gaping hole, which involved removing two four-plex electrical boxes (installed while drunk, most definitely) and replacing them with a single duplex outlet. This, of course, involved more drywall repair.

My (still unfinished) drywall repair of the gaping electrical disaster that was installed here by previous owner
You get the point. One thing led to another to another to another...... I think it never ends. But I am nearly finished. I haven't installed the shelving yet and I'm still working on the electrical outlet, but the end is in sight. And the end is a whole lot prettier than the beginning. And before anyone starts thinking that I'm "handy" I'm here to say that that adjective probably doesn't apply. I didn't know how to do any of this except for the painting but I did some online research and checked out a couple of books about house-wiring and I was ready to go. All it takes is time, a willingness to get dirty, and some research.


  1. You. Are. My. Hero.

    That is big time.

    I was laughing hysterically because my old house was 1) systemically slightly out of plumb and 2) fixed DIY by people who had no clue what they were doing. Ever.

    I, too, had the snaking slinky duct work. Of which, and I think I can top you here, was never actually attached to the outside. So it was blowing moist air into the attic from the dryer for who knows how long.

    You are a badass woman. Get after that drywall!

  2. You are totally a badass - handy or not.

  3. I know the feeling, we are convinced the guy who built our house was drunk. We refer to him as Ivan been drinkin. So many things to fix.... at least the house wss cheap

  4. Lindsey beat me to it...you are my hero! I avoid stuff like this 'cuz the inspiration comes in fits and spurts and all the "leads to...." projects would, therefore, be a big mess for a long time.

    Some friends and I batted around the idea of a 'helpful friend co-op group' (I just made that up right now). The idea is...as single women who own houses, there are often projects that require help. We would, as a group, take turns going to each other's houses and knocking out their list. One month, we'd all come to my house and do whatever I need to get done. Next month we'd go to your house and do the same. It never took off, but I'd love to make it happen. Oh, the things I'd love to make happen.....

  5. I'm doing it. I'm calling you handy. There. I did it. Rock on lady friend. When drunken previous owners leave us with a big "huh??" we respond with tools and strong wills! Yes.

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