Can You Vent A Dryer Into A Garage?

Can You Vent A Dryer Into A Garage

There’s no doubt that a clothes dryer makes life easier, drying laundry in record time, but where doe all that hot air go? After your dryer runs, it needs a place to deposit the hot, moist air that develops. Many people might assume venting the dryer into the garage is acceptable, perhaps even efficient, since it can heat your garage.

However, you should never vent a dryer into a garage because it can cause a host of problems, including mold and lint dust. If it’s a gas dryer, you’ll also have the added health risk of Carbon Monoxide exposure. Plus, you’d fail any inspections since the International Residential Code (IRC) stipulates that all dryers “convey moisture to the outdoors.”

While you might be able to run your dryer vent through your garage space, it needs to terminate outside. Typically, the end of the vent can be through an exterior wall or, in some cases, the roof, but always outside.

Why Do You Need A Dryer Vent?

Before you start wondering if you can just forgo a dryer vent altogether, consider how a dryer works. Your dryer’s job is to get the moisture out of your clothes and towels, and so on. This is so your laundry can get dry in a timely manner.

But, as the dryer uses heated air to dry your laundry, the air inside the dryer also becomes damp. In order for the air inside the dryer to stay warm and dry, it needs to get rid of this excess moisture. Therefore, it has to send the moist air somewhere else as it builds up in the dryer.

The dryer vent has this all-important job, taking this moist, hot air from the dryer and sending it elsewhere. Therefore, wherever your dryer vent terminates will become host to this humid air.

It’s probably not the best idea to have hot, moist air filling up your garage (or anywhere else inside your home). So, the International Residential Code (IRC) states that “Dryer exhaust systems must be independent of other systems and convey moisture to the outdoors.”

What Are The Main Problems When You Vent A Dryer Into A Garage?

Maybe you think venting a dryer into your garage is no big deal since your garage isn’t technically part of your living space. However, this is simply not the case. Venting a dryer into any indoor location, even if it’s infrequently used, has some dire consequences.

1. Build-Up Of Lint Dust

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You likely are well aware that lint from the laundry accumulates in the lint trap and on the lint screen every time your dryer runs. You might even be in the habit of removing the lint from the screen and trap after every use (it’s good practice).

But did you also know that lint also accumulates inside your dryer vent? Typically, it’s a good idea to clean the vent duct at least once a year. You should clean it out more often if you do more laundry.

But regardless, when the dryer runs, it’s common for lint to make its way out of the vent as well. Since the vent is supposed to go outdoors, the lint does too, so it’s usually no big deal.

But, if you vent the dryer into the garage, this lint ends up over various surfaces inside the garage. It might not be readily visible, but over time, it builds up. This build-up of lint dust poses a few issues, including tracking it into your home and becoming a fire hazard.

2. Risk Of Mold

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Remember, the air that your dryer ejects isn’t just hot air; it’s also moist, damp air. This means this humid air ends up inside your garage, creating excessive moisture in the space.

When this happens, the combination of dust, excess moisture, and heat is a surefire recipe for mold growth. Mold poses a myriad of health risks, including respiratory problems and allergies, and even certain cancers. Plus, mold can also wreak havoc on your home, calling for all sorts of repairs.

If you end up with a mold issue, you’ll likely need to call in a mold remediation service and make some costly fixes.

3. Exposure To Carbon Monoxide

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If you have a gas dryer, you also need to be concerned about carbon monoxide exposure. It’s a good rule of thumb to install a carbon monoxide detector near your laundry area. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, so you would have no way of knowing if there is a leak.

Your first signs of the leak would likely not be until you’re experiencing symptoms like headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Therefore, venting your dryer into your garage is a bad idea.

The vent not only releases hot, humid air, and lint but also fumes. These small amounts of carbon monoxide don’t do any harm when they’re correctly vented to the outdoors.

However, venting them into an enclosed space, like a garage, causes them to build up over time. As carbon monoxide builds up, it causes more intense health risks, including death.

4. Hold Up A House Sale

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Most homebuyers will order a home inspection of a property they plan to purchase. This is a safeguard against any potential surprises and costly repairs.

If you’re planning to sell your home, having a dryer vent into a garage is a surefire way to fail inspection. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s against code, so an inspector won’t be able to give your home a thumbs-up. When this happens, it forces you to correct the issue and vent the dryer outdoors.

In the meantime, it holds up your sale or potentially sends the buyers running, and you have to find new buyers.

Considerations For Installing A Dryer Vent

Now that you know venting a dryer into a garage is a no-no, how about what you should do? When installing a dryer vent, in addition to venting it outdoors, keep these tips in mind.

  • A dryer vent should be no longer than 35 feet; the shorter, the better. If the vent needs to make multiple turns, you need to reduce the overall length. The general rule is to subtract 5 feet per 90-degree turn and 2.5 feet per 45-degree turn.
  • If you have more intricate dryer venting (i.e., long, more turns, vertical runs), you need to have appropriate clean-outs. 
  • The end of the vent should be at least 12 inches off the ground where it vents outside.
  • The vent should not have any blockages, leaks, or kinks and needs properly sealed connections.
  • You need a backdraft arrestor installed, which keeps air, pests, etc., from entering your home through the dryer vent.

Tips For Cleaning The Dryer Vent

Cleaning out a dryer vent is a relatively easy DIY job unless your dryer has extensive, unique venting. It’s especially easy if your dryer is right by an exterior wall with a shorter vent.

First, kill the power to the dyer at the circuit board. Then remove the vent from your exterior wall and look for any potential obstructions, like animal nests, etc.

If you can’t remove it, use a flashlight to inspect the inside and tongs or a vacuum to remove obstructions. Replace the vent.

Pull the dryer away from the wall and remove the flexible duct from behind the machine. Use a long vacuum hose attachment to vacuum inside the duct and around the back of the dryer.

Make sure to vacuum up any additional lint that is behind the dryer. Then, reattach the duct to the dryer, and turn the power back on at the circuit board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you vent a dryer into the attic?

Similar to venting into a garage, you also cannot vent a dryer into an attic. However, the International Residential Code says you can run the vent through the attic in order to vent the dryer through the roof.

However, keep in mind if running your vent through the attic, adhere to the guidelines. Your vent can’t exceed 35 feet (less if it makes various turns), and you need to have proper cleanouts.

Can you vent a dryer underneath your house?

If you would rather not have the dryer venting through your roof or wall, you might consider venting into a crawlspace. It still needs to follow all of the same guidelines and codes.  It also could be wise to position the end of the vent somewhere near the house’s perimeter.

Can you vent a dryer through a window?

If you aren’t ready to cut a hole in your wall or roof, you can vent a dryer through the window. But, this doesn’t mean you simply open a window and let the vent hang out. This can lead to issues of its own, like security for one thing.

Instead, you will be removing the section of glass where you plan to run the vent and putting wood or plexiglass in its place. If your window has screens, remove these too and store them somewhere safe. If you ever go back to having a proper window, you can replace the screens.

You’ll need to cut a circle in the wood to fit the vent hood snugly.  Install the dryer vent hood into the newly cut hole, with the opening pointed downward.

Seal around where the hood meets the wood using caulk. Install the wood insert with vent hood into the opening where the glass once was. Make sure everything is installed securely so no one can access your house from the outside.

Caulk around the insert, then add the necessary vent elbow and vent ducting, connecting to the dryer. Make sure everything is sealed correctly, and there are no leaks.