We, Space Coast’s Certified Dryer Vent Technicians are in many homes each day throughout the week and consequently see all sorts of different situations & circumstances. We often get calls from folks who are either about to purchase a new dryer or already have – and it’s on the verge of being delivered. When they call, they proceed to tell us that they’d like to have the vent cleaned prior to the installation of the new dryer. If our schedule permits, we of course are happy to oblige.
However, as a result my technicians and I seeing so many dryers installed usually by 3rd party service providers that places like Lowes, Home Depot utilize, (but sometimes also local smaller independent companies also, unfortunately to include here in Brevard County) in such a way that’s deemed a hazard (by both dryer manufacturers & the Technician) we tend take the opportunity while speaking with the customer that we actually do NOT recommend having the dryer vent service completed pre-dryer install, we recommend after – and we elaborate on the why. Nate’s Dryer Vent Cleaning is committed to an educational approach and in most cases our customers choose to take our advice.
We communicate to them that at least in our experience roughly 75% of the time where we provide the service after the dryer has been installed, we find that the dryer has been installed in a way that the dryer manufacturers themselves consider a hazard. Consequently, if we come after the dryer is installed, we can catch the situation, advise and provide a solution – but we do not have that opportunity if we come out beforehand.
Now in saying that, in the vast majority of these cases when we find the dryer installed improperly it’s something “small”, such as the installer used a foil hose as a transition (connector) hose to attach the dryer to the main dryer exhaust vent. However, as we proceed to educate the customer, there’s literally a warning label immediately on the back of the dryer saying “Do NOT use plastic of foil” and the vast majority of the labels go on to read “Failure to follow these instructions can result I death or fire”. The same information is repeated several times in the dryer manual and often elaborated on.
Of course, the first question the homeowner will ask is, “Well, why did [so and so] sell me this (or install this)”? in which we respond, now that’s a great question, you’d had to ask them why they seem to not be familiar with the warning labels. Now of course, our customers aren’t obligated to purchase one of our approved connector hoses that we custom make, but we encourage people to follow dryer manufacturers’ recommendations just as you would an automobile manufacturer about something safety related. From what I’ve seen in the isles at Home Depot or Lowes, in the section where they keep dryer vent products, about a third to half of those products are not recommended by dryer manufacturers &/or not code compliant and as a result a safety issue &/or will impeded optimal airflow.
You, just like our customers, are surprised to hear that big retail stores like, Lowes, Sears, H.H Greg and perhaps others have actually had class action lawsuits against them for using these foil hoses. Shockingly, Lowes can’t seem to learn their lesson and in many locations & many cases foil hoses are still being used. I personally will go out of my way to call the local independent stores or perhaps a builder or subcontractor of a builder whose job it is to install dryers for new construction to educate them on this because it is a liability & it makes them look not so sharp by doing this practice.
So, we take the quick second to explain to them reasons why the warning is on there, and, often the warnings or written information in the manual will state it. If the foil hose gets kinked, or crushed it becomes an immediate hazard because now it’s essentially acting as a blockage. See this short video 2-minute video on the consequences of a blockage or you can find that video and our blog about the consequences of a dryer vent here. Additionally, if the dryer were to ever catch on fire, that foil hose would surely and quickly melt, allowing the flames to spread, rather than potentially being contained to the dryer exhaust vent system.
Lastly, aside from it being a potential hazard defined by dryer manufacturers’, it also reduces airflow & causes back-pressure of air (two separate things actually that both have their own respective consequences). This is because the product is not a true 4 inch in diameter. Due to the wirey indentations throughout the product as a result of the “slinky effect” the product is actually 3.25inches or so if you measure the actual interior from indentation to indentation. So naturally, it’s counter-intuitive to install a product whether it be the foil hose (or the short 90degree turn or the telescoping rectangular boxes) which will prevent your dryer (brand new or not) from running optimally & efficiently!
Aside from this infraction if you will, the other thing that we have seen in an increasing amount unfortunately especially in 2023 is whoever is installing the connector hose on the back of the dryer will tighten down on the clamp SO HARD that it will bend the duct in the dryer. In a number of cases (see the below pictures) because they tightened down so hard that the seam of the duct popped loose several inches and consequently the dryer would in part either exhaust to a small degree behind the unit (which will make a mess, create more heat in that immediate area and is all the more a concern if it’s a gas dryer) – or – IN the dryer cabinet itself which have found in some of these cases which is a serious hazard!
The last thing you want is your dryer to be exhausting any amount of lint immediately into the dryer cabinet where the motor & heating element are. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, the more flammable lint in the machine, the higher the risk for a dryer fire – which is the 6th leading cause of house fires according to the NFPA most recent report. This is just one of a few reasons why, when we custom make our connector hoses, we do not clamp the hose directly to the duct protruding from the dryer.
We utilize one of two collar fittings that act and serve as what we call a friction fitting and you technically do not need a clamp when installed that way. Albeit if it’s a little looser than we want or if the customer absolutely wants it clamped to the dryer, we will clamp over our fitting onto the duct will still prevents the duct coming from the dryer to be compromised. The idea of the friction fit is that, when connected and the dryer is pushed back sitting against the wall where it tends to sit (to maximize space) the hose absolutely can’t just pop off. The intention is, if a service provider or the customer wants or needs to move the dryer out, they will NOT need a tool to undo the clamp because as they move the dryer forward the collar fitting will eventually naturally wiggle off the duct, eliminating any hassle! However if the fitting happens to be just slightly loose, we will clamp overtop of our fitting onto the dryer duct – again this protects the duct in the dryer cabinet.
So, to recap some words of wisdom from Nate’s Dryer Vent Cleaning:
1) No matter who installs the dryer, if you want your dryer to run optimally and efficiently and maintain a safe environment, we recommend to FOLLOW dryer manufacturers recommendations and to NOT use plastic of foil hoses. In addition to that do not use the short 90 degree turns or slim-line telescoping rectangular boxes.
2) We recommend having your dryer vent service provider perform the dryer vent cleaning after the dryer is installed for the aforementioned reasons above. Now that’s assuming you’re not using an average dryer vent cleaner but a dryer vent specialist! (Sadly, some dryer vent companies will be happy to sell and install a foil hose or it could be a gimmick and they’ll offer it for “free” coming with the cost of the cleaning. Perhaps a blog on your “average dryer vent cleaner” vs Dryer Vent Specialist down the road.