You know the book, If You Give a Moose a Muffin? One thing leads to another. If you give a moose a muffin, he’ll want jam to go with it. If you give him jam, then something else happens…you get the idea. Well, if you give Karen a problem, it will turn into a DIY project to go with it. Let me tell you our cautionary Duct Tales and why you need to clean your dryer duct now. Well, read this first. Then clean it.
So, here’s what happened:
It’s a normal Saturday night at HQ. I go outside to grill our dinner, and I notice that one of the foundation vents is no longer connected to the foundation. Hmmm. I move it aside and see a dryer duct attached to nothing. The dryer duct to nowhere! I’m perplexed.
It was too dark and cold to go down into the crawl space to investigate, so I wait until Sunday morning to check it out.
Just so you can picture the scene, I need to explain the dryer duct set up in our wacky house.
Our laundry room was an addition to our old house at some point (I don’t know how long ago; it was here when we got here). It was just carved out of half of the garage. The dryer vents down, through the crawl space, out the back of the house. To accomplish this, the duct is quite long and has a few turns in it, including under our drain pipe and several water pipes.
You might be seeing the problem already, right? Anyhoo…
Back to our Sunday morning…When I got into the crawl space, I saw that the duct I had seen was no longer connected to the dryer; it was just left there, hanging out. The duct that was connected to the dryer was part rigid duct, part soft aluminum flexduct. The flexduct was used to get around the pipes described above.
Knowing how old that flexduct was and knowing that they can present fire hazards (if you want a great explanation of this and how to fix it, check out Pretty Handy Girl’s post HERE), I go in for a closer inspection. I notice that there are holes in the flexduct, and there is condensation on the duct and on the floor of our crawl space. Hmmm.
I then decided to pull off the flexduct, because (a) it clearly had holes in it, which is not good; and (b) it’s probably not safe, which is not good. When I pull it off, I find a half-inch layer of lint all around it.
I then freak out. Can anyone here say “major fire hazard”??
This is what I pulled out of just what I could reach in the duct:
Holy dust bunnies.
I head to Home Depot and get some semi-rigid dryer duct and a new dryer vent and I’m on my way. Right? Right?
Well, wrong. Sigh.
The more rigid ducting wouldn’t go around the pipes in the basement. Grrr.
Did I mention that Dear Husband had washed a load of clothes at this point? Yep, in the washer. Wet as can be.
So I did what any serial DIYer does when faced with a roadblock. I called my expert, Craig, who has worked on all the major renovations in our home. He told me what I suspected – that the dryer duct shouldn’t be that long anyway (it takes longer to dry the clothes and it’s a fire hazard with all those turns in the duct) and we need another solution. The solution is to vent the dryer out the garage wall instead, right next to the laundry room.
Being a DIYer means that you are brave enough to take on projects, but smart enough to realize when you’re out of your comfort zone.
I am now, officially, out of my comfort zone. The professionals will have to tackle this project.
What did I learn from our Duct Tales?
1. Never underestimate the potential scope of a DIY project. What I thought was just reattaching a duct became re-venting our dryer duct, a much bigger project.
2. Working in an unfinished crawl space under your house is good for your abs. It’s like planking. I did this for an hour or so and now I feel like I had quite the ab workout! (That said, there were many cobwebs, so I don’t recommend this as a way to workout.)
3. CLEAN YOUR DRYER DUCTS. Like now. Like yesterday. Do it. I was shocked at the amount of lint that had built up, and we had had our ducts cleaned a few years ago. It’s a major fire hazard. I am grateful that we found this before we had a fire. (Insert freaking out sound here.)
4. If you have the soft aluminum duct that has ridges in it, replace it with rigid or semi-rigid ducting. You can do this project yourself if you don’t have a wonky duct set-up like we did here (see the link above to Pretty Handy Girl for a great tutorial on why and how to do this).
5. CLEAN YOUR DRYER DUCTS. Are you getting the importance of this? Just checking.
6. If you are going to DIY around your house, recognize when it’s time to call in the pros. I don’t consider this a defeat, but rather a victory in knowing and understanding my limits. Sometimes DIY doesn’t go the way you want or expect it to, and that’s ok. Just recognize it, take a deep breath, and call someone who can help you. It’s ok – we’ve all been there.
My lovely neighbor is letting us use her dryer this afternoon, so the wash load will finally get dried and all will be well (or at least dry).
Now, go clean your dryer duct! I mean it!