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Why You Shouldn’t Vent a Dryer Through Your Roof

Posted November 30, 2022 by Daniel White
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Dryer vents exist to get rid of all the excess heat, moisture, and lint that builds up during the drying process. A clogged vent can lead to problems ranging from inefficient drying to a potential fire. As such, it’s important to keep them clean at all times.

Some houses have a vent leading to their yard, while others use a rooftop vent. However, venting a dryer through a roof is inefficient and difficult to maintain. You’d either need a roofer to clean it out or have someone change the vent’s location. 

Here’s more on why you shouldn’t settle for a dryer vent through your roof. 

The Downsides of Venting a Dryer Through a Roof

A roof vent functions much like any other dryer vent. Despite the heat and lint traveling vertically instead of horizontally, it still accomplishes the same goal. One of the problems is that it can be much less efficient. 

Proper vent positioning requires that the vent take the shortest path with the least amount of turns. Depending on how it’s constructed, a rooftop vent may create a longer travel time. Additionally, it’s much more difficult to clean out and repair when compared with sidewall vents.

Fire Hazard

A blocked dryer vent is a fire hazard. In fact, dryer fires are one of the most common reasons for house fires. The result is millions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of injuries. 

Your dryer vent becomes a fire hazard because of two things that a vent should expel: heat and lint. 

When your dryer can’t vent well or isn’t cleaned out routinely, all that lint can get backed up and clog it. The extra heat from your dryer then has nowhere to travel. Dryer lint is extremely flammable, and the slightest source of heat can ignite it. 

If you use a sidewall vent, then the fire may be localized to your laundry room. However, roof vents that catch on fire are much more dangerous for your entire home.

Moisture Control

Another role of a dryer vent that often goes unrecognized is moisture control. When you dry wet clothes, all that water content has to go somewhere. 

Venting a dryer through the roof causes issues with moisture control for a few reasons.

First of all, moist warm air condenses back into a liquid if it makes contact with cold attic air. That can cause the water to back up and block your vent. Even worse, it may spill back out into your laundry room.

Second, multiple angles in your duct can cause water buildup. Ideally, the path outside would be short and straight.

Finally, blockages caused by failure to clean out excess lint will result in the same issue. Any water moving back into your dryer can spell death for your equipment. You’ll also have issues with mold and mildew buildup, which is dangerous for your health. 

Difficult to Clean

Arguably the biggest issue with a rooftop vent is that it’s difficult to clean. 

Cleaning out a dryer vent begins by moving the appliance and vacuuming the inside of the vent. You can then use a dryer duct cleaning kit to reach up to 12 feet inside and pull out any lint or debris. However, there are many cases where you’ll also need to check the exterior vent for any signs of blockages or damage. 

Maybe a bird decided to create a home inside of it. Or there’s a chance lint collected there and never got pushed out.

Either way, a roof vent requires you to climb onto your home to inspect it. This is dangerous and can result in serious injury if you slip and fall. You may need to do this twice a year depending on how often you use your dryer. 

Proper Vent Positioning

Venting a dryer through the roof should be your last option, if possible. You almost always want it to go through sidewall vents, which are less likely to get clogged and are usually much easier to access. 

Even if your dryer is placed on a floor other than the ground floor, you can still manage a sidewall vent. You may need to run it vertically into the attic and then out the side, though. 

Venting guidelines state that the length of rigid metal ducting shouldn’t exceed 35 feet. Every 90 degree turn in the duct reduces 5 feet from the allowable length. Every 45 degree turn reduces two and a half feet. 

Options to Take

Assuming you already have a roof vent, you’ll first want to get a roof inspection to assess its condition. They can make sure that it’s properly venting out all the heat and moisture from your dryer. Chances are good that they’ll tell you about the problems a roof vent can develop.

If it’s possible to move the vent to a sidewall, then that’s something to consider. You can have a plumber, an HVAC company, or a duct professional to relocate it. Your local roofers can then change the roof line and close off the top. 

In the case that your duct guy says you can’t change your vent’s location, then you should schedule routine maintenance to clean it. The last thing you want to do is get seriously injured trying to remove lint and debris. 

Keep Your Roof and Home in Good Condition

Dryer vents often go unnoticed and untouched until they become a problem. Venting a dryer through a roof only increases the odds of an accident occurring and makes it more difficult to prevent it. It’s almost always better to relocate it through a side wall at the ground level. 

If you need help assessing your roof vent, Roof Life of Oregon is here to help. Our services include roof inspection, maintenance, repair, and attic ventilation. Contact us to get a quote and learn more about how we can help you. 

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