Your dryer is not essential to a healthy life. it doesn’t cook your food or even wash your clothes. But it does add a level of casual comfort and luxury to your lifestyle that only an automatic dryer can. No worrying about clotheslines for you. With a working dryer, you don’t even need to enjoy a shower without a warm, fluffy, dryer-fresh towel waiting for you. However, dryers do require proper setup, and not all dryers are–at this moment– installed correctly. The most important part of dryer installation is the exhaust duct. This is the tube that carries moist, lint-filled air out of the dryer so that clothes can shed their moisture and get dry inside a metal cabinet. But that duct is flexible, delicate, and easy to damage just by pushing the dryer too close to the wall.
Often, the one lurking maintenance problem with a dryer is its duct. Let’s talk about identifying when your dryer duct needs repairs.
1) Humidity Rises when the Dryer Runs
When you run the dryer, what happens to the humidity in the room where the dryer runs? If the room gets incredibly humid in there, that’s not the climate. That is the exhaust of warm, moist, lint-filled air filling the room. It’s not toxic, but it can be uncomfortable. Humidity in the laundry room is not, on its own, a red flag. But when the humidity skyrockets every single time you run the dryer, that’s a serious sign.
What this means is that the duct is not doing its job. Instead of connecting directly from the dryer to the vent aperture (to take the moist air outdoors), your duct is broken or disconnected. It is allowing that moist exhaust air to escape and fill your laundry room.
2) Items Around Dryer are Suspiciously Linty
Another sign that your dryer duct is open and spraying dryer-exhaust into the room (instead of outside) is if everything in your laundry room seems to be covered in lint. Run your hand along the top of the dryer and washer, nearby shelves, and other items in the room. If your hand comes back linty, that’s a sign that linty dryer exhaust is being released into the room. If you clean a surface and it’s linty after the next time you run the dryer, then your dryer is leaking exhaust for sure. Your duct may be ripped, open, or not installed at all.
3) Clothes Don’t Get Dry
A different kind of clue is whether your clothes are drying. If your clothes have recently started coming out of the dryer still damp, even after a good long drying session, you could have a different type of ductwork problem. Your dryer duct is designed to create an open airflow to the outside of the house. If the duct is open indoors, you get the humid linty problem. But if the duct isn’t open at all, if it is blocked or closed, then the moist air can’t escape. When moisture can’t leave your dryer, clothes don’t get dry.
Check your duct for obstructions. If the flexible tube is bent and clamped or crushed, then air can’t get through. Also, look for the possibility of a closed or blocked vent, then investigate lint-based blockages. Lint blockages don’t mean there’s something wrong with your duct, just that it’s been too long since your duct was cleaned out. Disconnect one end and clear out the lint from the system. Then check the vents on both sides.
4) There is No Dryer Duct
If you are experiencing humidity and lint, look behind your dryer. Ideally, you will see a flexible chrome tube that may be damaged or loose on the connection. But sometimes, dryers are installed with no ductwork at all. Maybe the person who brought the dryer in forgot or didn’t know the proper installation procedure. Or maybe the duct was removed during previous maintenance and a new one was never returned.
The good news is that your repair process will be easier. You won’t have to uninstall and remove the old duct before installing a new one. You may want to ensure you have securing ring-brackets. Ring brackets are circulating pieces of metal with an open side that secures closed around a circular duct end. Normally, these ring brackets are transitioned from one duct to the next when these semi-disposable flexible ducts are replaced.
But if you don’t have a duct, you may also not have these brackets. Acquire them along with your duct to do the repair.
5) You Can See the Damaged Duct
The last and undeniable sign that your dryer duct needs repair is visual confirmation. Sometimes, you can simply look behind your dryer and see the damage without question. Take a light with you and look closely. You may be able to see an open tear in the flexible material. You may be able to see that the end has disconnected or that the duct is so crushed and crumpled that it can’t be straightened back out again. If you can see that there’s clear or significant damage to the duct, then it’ll need to be replaced.
Repairing Your Dryer Duct
Dryer ducts can be repaired in only a few ways. They are made of fairly delicate flexible material that can be ripped easily with shearing force, impact, or scraping something sharp. Fortunately, you usually don’t need as much duct as you have.
The first way to fix your duct is just to straighten it out. Make sure it loops behind the dryer in a way that the air can flow through. Don’t push your dryer so far back that it crushes the duct or causes it to pinch closed.
The second fix is to clip and reconnect the duct. Usually, these flexible duct tubes are much longer than you really need. You might be able to cut the damaged end off re-clamp the freshly cut end to the dryer or vent. Make sure it is straight and call it a day.
The third fix is a replacement. You can buy a replacement duct quite easily and cheaply. Cut it to size, leaving yourself some slack, and connect both ends with the ring mounts. If you have significant length cut off, tuck it away for future repairs.
If these three solutions don’t work or your concern goes deeper than the duct, a professional appliance repair technician can hunt down your problem and make it right.