Where the dryer vent leads, I follow

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I cannot figure out where my dryer vent leads. Seriously, the washer and dryer hookups are in the middle of the house, where there is no wall touching the outside. The only thing I can figure is that it may be going into the crawl space beneath the house. Do I really need to know where it goes, and is venting to the crawl space a problem?

Also, my dryer is not drying well – I have to run it at least twice to dry a load. What is up with that?


Dryer Drama in Dyersburg

Wink Ivy says:

Ah, the dryer.  It can keep your workload way down, but can cause so many problems as well. I used to have a lovely clothesline I could let the sheets dry on when I lived in a different place, but I have not put one up at my new house. Sheets dried on a clothesline smell like heaven, seriously.

At any rate, my waxing romantic over sheets dried in the sun is not helping your problem, so let’s get to the issues at hand. A dryer venting into a crawlspace is not good. That moist air can cause all sorts of mold issues, and you do NOT want mold issues. If you walk around your house while the dryer is drying (especially on a cold day) you can generally sniff out where your dryer is venting to.

Most likely it is venting to the outside as most places have building codes that specifically forbid dryers venting into a crawlspace. My dryer is also right in the middle of my home, and I always figured it vented into the crawlspace until I happened to be taking the dog outside one crisp day while I was doing laundry.  It does vent outside, indeed, and I expect yours does as well, you just have not found where it vents yet.

If you are concerned that your dryer is venting into your crawlspace, you can always crawl under your house and look. It’s not as scary as one might think it would be, just make sure you are wearing pants tucked into socks and you take a flashlight and shine it wherever you are about to go. Oh, and put your hair up in a ponytail if you have long hair. Likely the worst thing you’ll run into is spiderwebs, but I’ve seen snakes and mice in my crawlspace before, so be careful.

Now, as far as your dryer being very slow to dry, there are 2 possible reasons for this. Either your dryer vent is clogged with lint, or your dryer is not heating up properly. Put some wet clothes in your dryer. Make sure it is on a heated dry cycle. After the dryer has been running for a few minutes, your dryer should be warm to the touch.

If it is not, your dryer is not heating properly and you may need to replace your heating element or other parts in your dryer. Here’s a good article about the no-heat dryer, and here’s another about  replacing your dryer’s heating element.

But before you go to all that drama, first check  to make sure your dryer vent is not clogged. Remember a couple of paragraphs ago where I said you should be able to go outside and smell your dryer when it’s running? If you can’t, you might have a kinked or clogged dryer vent.

Unplug your dryer. Pull it away from the wall and remove your dryer vent clamps. (Pictures may come later, but it is laundry day at Chez Ivy, and dryer vents get HOT when they’re in use.) Pull it off your dryer and look for any clumps of wet lint. While you’re back there, grab your vacuum and use the vacuum hose to suck out as much lint as possible. Then put the whole shebang back together and make sure the dryer vent is not kinked and is completely unobstructed.

I hope that helps you fix your dryer!


  1. Rachel on April 29, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    I’m pleased to report that I found our dryer vent and it does vent to the outside. How it gets there, I don’t know, but there it is.

  2. bramble on April 18, 2007 at 11:38 am

    thx 🙂

  3. Badbadivy on April 17, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Yep, toss them in the dryer for about 5 minutes after they’re done drying to soften them up. 🙂

  4. bramble on April 17, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    whenever we’ve tried to line dry the clohes come out really stiff, any tips to prevent this?

  5. GJR on April 16, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    The dryer in the apartment building where I live vents into the basement (same room as the dryer). I’ve always thought this was odd. It does get really steamy in the basement when the dryer is going, so I hope we’re not getting mold! Now I’m curious to try to find out what the regulations are in NYC.