Did you know duct tape is actually meant for duct work? Not for fixing shoes or hemming pants or making wallets? Had I not been a bit of an idiot (a couple times over), I might not have had the chance to use it for it’s true purpose.
For the past few months, I’ve noticed that every time I use the dryer, my kitchen windows would fog up. Somehow, I didn’t think anything of this. Which was pretty dumb on my part. As it turned out, the dryer duct stretching from the dryer to the wall was ripped. Which means my dryer has been venting into my house. For months.
This is actually a very easy fix, assuming you’re not an idiot like me, or have a weird set up. My current set up is not ideal, as I’ll explain below. But, mine should be an odd case – I imagine your home is configured properly! Either way, should you find yourself needing your duct work fixed, you are absolutely qualified to do this yourself!
Here is what you will need (and a few items you might also need):
Vent duct (this comes in Flexible, Semi-rigid and rigid. Check what you have now and get something similar. I needed the flexible. It comes in 8ft or 25ft lengths.)
Duct Elbow – You may or may not need this. I needed it to both extend the length of the flexible duct and decrease the strain from the angle it was at.
Duct clamp – this is a metal ring that tightens with a screwdriver to secure the duct to the dryer or wall opening
Here are the steps you should take to repair your duct:
1. Evaluate the current set up. What is the current set up? Is it flexible duct? Rigid? What is the distance between the back of your dryer and the wall vent? What parts do you need from the above list? Elbows? Connectors? Clamps? It will be helpful to write it down, and maybe even take a couple pictures, depending on the complexity, to take with you to the hardware store.
My utility room is set up really weird. My dryer is a good 8+ feet from the wall. The duct goes under the utility sink, under a shelf and then into the wall. There were no elbow duct connectors, which just added to the strain on the duct, and likely contributed to the tear in the duct. (I also want to apologize for the mess that is my utility room. Between the cat box, two dust busters, paint thinner…. jeez, I need to clean!)
I also want to note here that dryers are HEAVY! You will likely need to move your dryer away from the wall. Please be careful when doing this. I used an ‘As Seen on TV’ product called EZ Moves (blog post on this coming soon also). It allows you to raise up heavy items and slide plastic discs underneath to make the moving easier. Hopefully you have something like this, or a strong male to help you out.
2. Head to the hardware store. Armed with your list, boldly go to the plumbing aisle and get your supplies. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – sometimes the workers there have some great thoughts. Or at least will confirm that you you totally know what you’re doing!
3. Remove the old duct work. Unscrew the clamp (or duct tape) that is likely holding the duct to the back of the dryer. Also remove it from the wall.
4. Install the new duct. For me, this took a few steps. First, I installed an elbow on the duct coming from the wall. I clamped it both on the rigid wall side, and all the flexible duct side. I tightened the clamps with the flathead screwdriver.
It was during this time, that I accidentally pulled the duct out of the wall. At this point, I realized I’d have to crawl under the house to fix it. So, I took advantage of the extra length to more easily attach the duct to the wall and to the back of the dryer. Let me give you some advice on this – Don’t pull the duct from the wall! Hopefully your wall vent is on an outside wall.
I also installed an elbow to the back of the dryer. This made it so that I was no longer straining the flexible duct and also that the 8ft was just barely enough to stretch between the two.
5. Crawl under the house to fix the duct you pulled out from the wall (strongly recommend avoiding this at all costs!). Again, I really hope this doesn’t happen to you. In many scenarios, your dryer vent is on an outside wall so the duct should be very short out to the outside. However, my wall connection from the utility room to the outside vent is somewhere around 10-15 feet (the pipe in the back of the photo). Thankfully, there was black plastic covering the ground. but there were still cobwebs everywhere. Gross!
After a bit of fighting, I was able to get the ducts together again (took some strong-arming to get the one end into the other). And then, DUCT TAPE! Even covered in sweat and cobwebs under my house, I totally giggled thinking this was the first time I’d used duct tape for its intended purpose.
6. Try it out! At this point, you’ve connected all the duct work to all the vents inside and to the outside vent. Now it’s time to make sure it works. Turn on your dryer. Go outside and see if there is air coming out of the vent. If there is, you’re golden! Good job!
7. (Optional) Call your parents/friends to brag about how awesome you are. Yes, I totally did this.