If you live in a small space or you can’t get easy access to the outside, you might be tempted to use your dryer without ventilation. But is it safe to do so?
While it’s possible to use an electric dryer without a vent, doing so prevents it from operating safely and efficiently. Certain precautions should be taken when venting electric dryers inside. However, you must never run a gas dryer without a vent as the fumes are poisonous and there is a risk of fire.
In this article, I’ll cover:
- Important differences between electric and gas dryers
- Potential health and safety risks of venting indoors
- How to run an electric dryer safely without venting
- Best ventilation options for your home
What Happens if You Run a Dryer Without a Vent?
Running a dryer without a vent is possible, but it is like putting your fridge on to the coldest setting and leaving its door open.
Some dryers can run in a closed space, but you need to be sure that it is safe. To reduce the dangers of venting a dryer in the home, there are several options open to you.
Certain electric dryers can run indoors, collecting all the lint and condensation in the exhaust, leaving warm and dry air.
A regular dryer will have a small filter, but most of the lint and all the condensation will end up wafting around your home if it does not have a vent.
There are NO gas dryers that are safe to use without vents. Gas dryers emit poisonous fumes, which can burn up all the oxygen in the air, leading to hypoxia.
Also, without oxygen, a gas dryer may continue to leak gas into your home, which can reignite if it reaches an open window and a spark.
Carbon monoxide leakage is another danger commonly associated with gas dryers. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can fill a room if the restriction insert in the vent fails or is removed. In extreme cases, high levels can result in death.
When using a gas dryer, you should run a vent to the outside, but you should also add a separate extractor fan to the room where it will function. This extra extractor will help to remove any excess fumes that made it out through the machine.
Is It Safe to Vent My Dryer Inside?
Whether gas or electric, a dryer is like any other household appliance and comes with a list of dangers from improper usage. From gas poisoning to mild allergies, venting a dryer into the home can come with consequences if precautions are not taken.
Health Risks of Venting Inside:
- Mold – Dangerous to breathe in and can cause both short- and long-term health issues. Children are more at risk as they often feel the effects before anyone else. Certain molds are killers, and once mold gets hold, it is difficult to kill off, even with medicines.
- Dust – Lint from artificial fabrics can end up developing allergies in children and adults. Once this dust meets the air, it will travel around your home and settle on clean clothes and bedsheets. Again, children tend to feel the effects of breathing in lint quicker than adults.
- Gases – It is obvious that gas dryers create toxic fumes, but even an electric dryer can create noxious gases. The vaporizing of detergents and softeners left on clothes as they heat up in the machine will also mix with the air in your home. Some of these vapors can cause headaches and longer-lasting health issues.
- Mold – Mold will peel paint and rot wood. If you see mold as it starts, you may have a chance at killing it off and preventing propagation. When mold sinks into woodwork and concrete, you may need to bring in a professional to remedy the situation.
- Dust – Lint will float in the air, ball around power sockets, and cause fire hazards. The fabrics in this dust may also land on hot lightbulbs and create smoke, sending toxic fumes around your home.
- Gases – A gas dryer may not burn off all the gas and allow it to move on through the exhaust. A build-up of gas in a home can end in a catastrophic explosion.
How to Safely Run an Electric Dryer Without Venting
Venting into your home is not ideal, even with an electric dryer, since you are venting all the lint and humidity into your breathing air.
If you have a new machine and are waiting for a window duct or an access hole to the outside, you can try short-term venting inside.
For indoor venting, you will want to run the dryer in a room closed off from the rest of your home and with an open window.
You also want to run the vent through a lint filter. This filter will also trap some of the humidity and will stop the dryer from sending handfuls of lint into the air.
These types of filters can help with warming up your home, but the vapors emitted from the heating of fabric softeners will still get through.
What Is the Best Way to Vent a Dryer?
Unless you are venting to the outside, you will still want to use a lint trap if you are venting your dryer into any part of your home.
Venting a dryer into a home is a popular option in areas with harsh winter since it helps cut some of the heating costs.
Note: You need to check with your local building codes to see if venting into your home is legal. Other ways of venting a clothes dryer include:
If your dryer is within thirty-five feet of a window, venting this way is your simplest option. Running a flexible hose from your dryer’s vent and hanging it out the window can get chilly. Use a window duct to close in the space around the window so that you can keep in the warmth.
The safest way, but may take a little more work, is to duct the dryer exhaust to the outside with a pipe or a metal duct. This is a permanent method and may involve drilling a vent hole through your roof or an exterior wall.
Good ducting means keeping the venting length within safe limits, extending the duct a certain distance beyond the wall or roof.
Roof ducts are useful for gas dryers where you want to get all the exhaust fumes out from your home. A roof duct will help disperse lint out and prevent backdrafts. Though, in some states with high levels of snowfall, roof ducts may become covered and blocked.
Attic drying is often neither legal nor safe – so you should investigate before proceeding with this method. You will also want to use a humidity and lint trap to prevent fire hazards and the build-up of moisture. This can be a good method of using waste heat to warm your home.