Dryer Vent Installations & Rerouting
Since starting Dryer Vent Tech in August of 2017, we’ve completed hundreds of dryer vent installations. Almost all of them were necessary because of non code compliant safety hazards. It’s pretty amazing how many dryer vents are downright dangerous. Even in newer construction, it’s not unusual to find a number of recurring code compliance issues that need to be resolved. We could go into detail and show tons of pictures of unsafe dryer vents but that’s not what this article is about. Instead we’re going to get into the details of the various types of dryer vent installations and dryer vent rerouting jobs and cover the pros and cons of hiring a pro vs doing the task yourself.
Before we get started, if you’re located in the Nashville Metropolitan area (middle TN) and you’re looking to hire a professional to install a code compliant dryer vent for you, contact us today for an estimate and assistance with any questions you may have.
Installing Your Own Dryer Vent? Hiring a Pro? Here's What You Need to Know!
Whether you’ve made the decision to install your own dryer vent or to hire a professional to take care of the dirty work for you, there are a few things you’ll want to know before taking the next step. Taking on a new task always has it’s potential challenges and we would like to shed some light on them so that you have a much clearer idea of what you’re getting into. First, let’s start with a few pros and cons of doing it yourself.
Pros & Cons of D-I-Y
Pro: You’ll save a considerable amount of money by choosing to tackle this job on your own. This one is obvious. Paying for a skilled professional to come out, inspect and install a 100% code compliant dryer vent is not cheap and may not be an option for some home owners.
Con: It’s going to take a considerable amount of time to learn the process, buy the material and complete the job which almost invariably will require some trial and error until you get the hang of it. Depending on the level of difficulty, this may not be a reasonable option for some.
Pro: If you’re the type of home owner who is considering tackling this job on your own, there’s a good chance you’ll have some fun and get a since of satisfaction out of installing your own dryer vent. After all, you enjoy challenges and this will definitely be a challenge for you to conquer!
Con: This is not a job for the faint of heart. It is not uncommon to encounter spiders and other creepy-crawlies especially if you’re working in a crawlspace. If you decide to take on this mission, you must be at peace with getting really dirty, sweating a lot, coming into close contact with small creatures and, almost invariably, cutting yourself with sheet metal 1-5 times on average.
The Dryer Vent Installation Process
The process of installing a code compliant dryer vent is pretty straightforward. First, you’ll need the right material and protective gear. Next, you’ll need a clear understanding of the exact route you’re taking (if you’re simply replacing your current vent, the route will be the same). Lastly, you’ll need to take careful note of any potential hazards such as, gas lines, plumbing pipes, electrical wires etc. The last thing you want to do is install a perfect dryer vent while damaging your health or busting a water pipe in the process.
If you’re planning on doing this yourself, this section will definitely help you. If you plan on hiring a pro, you can use this section as a reference point, when asking questions, to make sure you’re choosing the right professional. Since we have a pretty streamlined process for installing, replacing and/or rerouting dryer vents, we’ll share with you our process from start to finish.
Necessary Material, Tools and Protective Gear
The biggest mistake most DIY’ers and handymen make, when it comes to installing dryer vents, is using the wrong material and not having the right tools and/or protective gear. Because dryer ducts are used to vent moist hot air, from the dryer exhaust, it is very important to carefully follow all dryer vent codes to ensure a safe a secure installation. We won’t get into all of the code requirements on this page but we’ll show you all of the material, tools and safety gear you will need to stay safe and code compliant:
- Galvanized Steel Hard Pipe – If you’re installing a concealed dryer vent (routing through a crawlspace, attic or between a wall/ceiling) you need to use 4″diameter galvanized steel which isn’t flammable and doesn’t rust. This ensures that your dryer vent is both durable and safe.
- Galvanized Steel Hard Pipe Elbows – You’ll need at least one of these to facilitate turns along the route. You can use these to make turns up to 90 degrees.
- Metal Perforated Hanger Strap – In order to secure the dryer vent, you will need hanger strap to fasten the hard pipe to the studs/beams (in the crawlspace or attic). Metal hanger strap with screw holes (perforated) is specifically what you’ll need.
- Exterior Vent Cover – If you’re only replacing your dryer vent the cover you currently have, may be sufficient. If it needs to be replaced, be sure to purchase a 4″ diameter dryer vent cover without a screen.
- Wood Screws – These type of screws, which are made specifically for screwing into wood, are perfect for the job. You can purchase any kind and any size, whatever you prefer.
- Power Drill – You can use any type of drill with a 3/8″ to 1/2″ chuck size. You will also need a Phillips driving drill bit.
- Hole Saw (4-1/2″) – You will need this to cut a 4-1/2 inch hole if you’re rerouting the dryer vent through a wood/vinyl exterior wall or through the roof.
- Reciprocating Saw – You may need this if you’re removing drywall or cutting a notch out of a stud in an attic.
- Sheet Metal Crimpers – These are a must for crimping the edge of the male end hard pipe sections. In short, there’s no other way to securely connect the hard pipe.
- Sheet Metals Snips – These are for cutting the necessary lengths of the sheet metal.
- Measuring Tape – You won’t be able to eyeball everything. Especially at the end of the installation, you will need exact measurements to make sure you have a snug fitting dryer duct.
- Silicon Caulk – This is used for sealing up the exterior vent cover and/or the gaps around the pipe in the laundry room floor.
- Roofing Caulk – If you’re installing a roof vent, you’ll need high quality roofing caulk to properly seal the roof vent cover.
- Face Mask – Whether you’re working in a crawlspace or an attic the air quality is poor. From, mold and dust to hazardous insulation, there are many risks to your lungs you will need to avoid.
- Knee Pads – If you’re crawling around a crawlspace get some knee pads. You may be surprised how fast your knees will start hurting if you don’t use knee pads.
- Gloves – This one has it’s pros and cons. If you wear gloves you will protect your hands from cuts and bruises from working with sharp sheet metal but they will also slow you down and make it difficult to grab screws and other small objects. The decision is yours.
- Protective Eye Goggles – You will definitely need these if you’re going to be cutting out drywall from a ceiling or cutting a hole through the roof from the attic (dust will fall towards your face).
Ground Level Dryer Vent Installation
For ground level dryer vents we start by placing all of the necessary materials and tools in the crawlspace near the area we will be working. Then, we’ll disconnect the dryer flex hose if necessary. If replacing the dryer vent, we remove the current vent before starting the installation process. If rerouting the dryer vent we will now cut the new hole in the exterior wall.
Next, we’ll start beneath the dryer and measure the distance from, 4-5″ past the laundry room floor, down to the first elbow we will install next. Then we measure and cut the hard pipe, snap it together, crimp at least one end, fit it through the hole in the laundry room floor, secure it using metal hanger strap, screws and a power drill and attach the elbow, at the necessary angle, using connector tape.
Next, we install the rest of the hard pipe leading out towards the exterior wall using the same tools and process as needed. Once we’ve reached the last 1-3 feet of the installation job, we’ll carefully measure the distance, adding roughly 2 inches (to allow the crimped ends of the hard pipe to fit snug).
Lastly, we’ll hook up the dryer, seal any gaps near the base of the hard pipe dryer connection, install the exterior vent cover, secure it with screws and seal it with caulk.
Second Story Dryer Vent Installation
Of course, the process is similar, it’s just the route that makes the difference. Because we’re installing the dryer vent either down or up through a wall or ceiling, the first thing we have to do is remove drywall. This requires careful preparation. After setting up, we first take very precise measurements to ensure that we know exactly where the dryer vent runs (and make sure no electrical wires or other obstacles will cause issues) before making any cuts into the drywall.
Then we use a level and utility blade to outline the area we will cut, use either a standard drywall knife or a reciprocating saw (faster but riskier) to make the cut and remove the sections of drywall necessary for replacing and/or installing the vent. Next, we begin installing the hard pipe (measuring, cutting, connecting and securing as needed).
After the dryer vent has been successfully installed we will usually use the same drywall sections we previously removed to patch up the holes. We won’t go into grave detail on how to properly patch up drywall since this isn’t an article about drywall repair.
Dryer Roof Vent Installation
In most cases, roof vents run between an interior wall and up through an attic before terminating on the roof. If you’re replacing the current vent, the process should be pretty straight forward. We start the process by placing all necessary tools and material in the attic where we will be doing most of our work.
Next, we remove the current duct-work and begin snapping the hard pipe together and feeding it down between the wall towards the dryer.
Once we’ve reached the hole in the wall below we secure the hard pipe with hanger strap and connect an elbow, for the dryer connection, behind the dryer. Usually this requires removing some drywall from the wall to create space for connecting the elbow to the vent using connector tape. Once we’ve made this connection and patched the drywall we removed, we head back up to the attic and proceed with measuring, cutting, crimping, installing and securing the dryer vent as needed.
Once we’re about 1-3 ft away from the roof, we’ll cut a hole in the roof using a drill and hole saw. Next, we climb on the roof and install the roof vent cover (loosen the shingles, slide the flange edges of the cover underneath the shingles, seal all areas beneath the cover and shingles liberally, secure all four corners with screws, caulk the top of the screws). Lastly, we finish up in the attic by installing the last 1-3 ft of hard pipe and sealing the interior wall inlet with silicon caulk (we prefer white).
After reading this entire article, you should have a great understanding of what’s involved in the three most common types of dryer vent installation processes. But if you plan to tackle this project yourself please keep in mind, there are a variety of unexpected obstacles and challenges you may face depending on the way your home was originally built. If you would like to hire a pro be sure to ask them as many questions as possible and ideally, choose a contractor who specializes in dryer vent maintenance. If you live in Nashville TN or surrounding areas of middle TN and you would like to hire us, you can reach us using any of the forms of contact on our contact page. We look forward to serving you soon!