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An almost working kludge

Anyone know off the top of their head if there's an LJ group for home improvements?

Several nights ago I noticed that the heat & lint output of our dryer was significantly increased. It was easy to see that the dryer exhaust conduit had come loose from the vent, and more importantly, the conduit was completely filled with lint. We have been delinting our clothes more than we'd like; clearly, the backed-up conduit was at fault.

So, I went tonight to Home Despot & bought a dryer exhaust kit and some extra conduit (I'd noted that the length of space from dryer to outside vent was 9 feet, and all the conduits there were 8 feet or less.) I also bought another attachment, which I'll describe later.

Our washer & dryer are a top/bottom arrangement. The exhaust for the dryer is on top, and the air vent to the outside port is in the floor. The reason for this violation of the law of thermodynamics has to do with the fact that our w/d units are on the top floor of our house, and the exterior exhaust port presumably needs to be accessible from the outside on the first floor. Thus, the conduit runs between the floors. I had no trouble removing the old conduit, and it was gross inside. Good time to take it out. Anyone noticed that lint is flammable?

Now, the closet where the units are is just slightly larger than the units themselves. The units are sitting on a plastic platter, which is presumably there to either make the units easier to slide within the closet, or to hold a very small amount of water should the washer overflow. (beats me which is true) This platter, of course, was blocking my access to the exhaust vent.

After removing the closet door so I could reach inside, I applied good old American know-how (a hammer) to the corner of the platter that overlapped the exhaust vent. In the process, I bent the vent slightly. None of the plastic fittings mated with the exhaust port properly (I don't think this is my fault, but what do I know?), but the conduit itself seemed to match closely enough. I put it on & left it alone.

When I moved the units back, however, the conduit came off the vent slightly. Not very much, but enough to create a noticible crack. I threw a wash in the dryer and let it run. It wasn't producing as much heat inside the house as the dryer had the one time I had to run it without the conduit, but clearly there are cracks large enough in this apparatus to be letting significant heat loose inside our home. I don't want to run this thing too much if it's going to turn things broiling inside.

So...any suggestions on what to do? If there's some kind of clamp or gasket that will mate with the interior exhaust port and not be moved by the platter when I move the washer & dryer back, that'd be good. Or, if there's simply some form of nonflammable insulation I can stuff in the cracks, I wouldn't mind that either. The possibility also exists that the conduit from the inside exhaust vent to the ouside port is filled with lint...does a person exist to snake that if that turns out to be the case? I certainly don't have that kind of equipment.

The other thing I did was I bought a vent that *allows* one to let the waste heat exhaust inside the house (for energy efficiency/heating in winter). That thing works just fine, but the conduit mating at this vent is also imperfect, and there's waste heat escaping there as well. I don't want to lose this thing; it'll be really spiffy in November, but right now the secondary waste heat loss from this thing will jack our electric bill even higher than it is. (We've had a couple of weeks of plus 100F [40C] heat.)

Urg. Thoughts?

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
liakela
Aug. 5th, 2002 07:18 pm (UTC)
There are times, my friend, when caulk is /your/ friend.


Point #2, you can actually get vent brushes, and likely attachments for vent brushes to make them longer, to clean out dryer exhaust vents.
sethcohen
Aug. 6th, 2002 07:48 pm (UTC)
Mmm...vent brushes. That, and hose clamps. That's what I'll be looking for next time I'm at Home Depot. Thanks!
mscongeniality
Aug. 6th, 2002 09:27 am (UTC)
Uhh...my thought is that I'm the wrong person to ask.

The right person to ask is my friend Avi, but I haven't talked to him in about a year now :/

Sorry...
sethcohen
Aug. 6th, 2002 07:48 pm (UTC)
Er, well...thanks, I guess. :(
yermie
Aug. 6th, 2002 08:46 pm (UTC)
Random comment: blue.

My thoughts on your problems:
Considering that the dryer vent system is simply a ducting system for moving the highly flammable lint into your walls (before then heating it up to obscene temperatures, and thereby raising fire insurance rates for all of us...), why not try "Duct Tape" to fix the minor cracks & holes in your duct work. It's cheap, easy, and, the "handyman's secret weapon"... It ain't broke, it just lacks duct tape.

Yes, you can use a snake to push out the accumulated lint, but there is a much easier and faster way.... a water hose.

Take the hose, attach it to the cold water inlet on the washer (well, not on the washer, on the box in the wall behind the washer...), remove the dryer vent pipe, and gently spray water out the vent. The water will make the lint soggy, and therefore, heavy... so it falls out the end (along with a lot of water).

However, before you do this, make sure that the vent goes DOWN, not up... or else you'll need a mop as well...

sethcohen
Aug. 7th, 2002 08:15 pm (UTC)
You don't trust your contractor. Why should I trust mine?
That's assuming that the vent pipe is watertight. I don't trust my contractor that much. Your idea, although helpful, probably does not hold water.

As for the duct tape, I don't think I can use that in this situation either. I am not as thin as you, and the space involved is not wide enough to admit more than one of my arms at at time. It sucks.
yermie
Aug. 8th, 2002 12:37 pm (UTC)
Water + Electricity = Fun for the whole family
Today's comment is brought to you by the letter æ, the letter ¥, and the number π.

Good point about the water pipe. However, something else you can try with the water hose: Gently (emphasis on GENTLY!) push it through the pipe until it comes out the outside wall.

Something else I've wondered about: Where in the house is your laundry area? Is it near an outside wall? If so, there's probably not much ductwork in the wall (typically it's just a vent on the side / top of the house). If it's near the center of the house, then you may have some ducting to deal with (although, it's usually the same flexible aluminum-foil tubing you get for the "inside" portion as well...)

And, since you can't get your arms back there, I see a few options:
Get someone who's arms can reach to fix it. (sorry, I'm busy this weekend wiring my house... maybe next weekend...)

Pull dryer out from wall, apply tape to duct on wall, add to dryer, then push dryer back towards wall

Get a big horkin screw type hose clamp, wrap it around the duct pipe, slide it down towards the wall, and tighten it once it's over the wall duct. (use a nut-driver (socket screwdriver) to do this, allows you to only need to use 1 hand...

Start going to a laundromat / dry cleaners.


Hopefully these random ideas might help a little for you. or, they might simply be of little help.
sethcohen
Aug. 8th, 2002 12:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Water + Electricity = Fun for the whole family
Good point about the water pipe. However, something else you can try with the water hose: Gently (emphasis on GENTLY!) push it through the pipe until it comes out the outside wall.

Huh. Looks like I should buy a water hose. :)

Something else I've wondered about: Where in the house is your laundry area? Is it near an outside wall? If so, there's probably not much ductwork in the wall (typically it's just a vent on the side / top of the house). If it's near the center of the house, then you may have some ducting to deal with (although, it's usually the same flexible aluminum-foil tubing you get for the "inside" portion as well...)
The laundry area is in the interior of our home, not against an outside wall.

Getting someone thinner or with longer arms is not very easy. Know any basketball stars who also do home improvement?

I'd only want to take the washer & dryer out if I were replacing them. Moving them more than I already have might damage them.

Get a big horkin screw type hose clamp, wrap it around the duct pipe, slide it down towards the wall, and tighten it once it's over the wall duct. (use a nut-driver (socket screwdriver) to do this, allows you to only need to use 1 hand...

This is what's planned next.

Thanks for your input.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )