Dryer Vents Through The Roof

I have noticed a trend in new construction which is gaining in popularity.  That is to install dryer vents through the roof.  This is a practice that really rubs me the wrong way.

Why am I so disapproving?  Many reasons!

  1. Out of sight, out of mind.  My dryer vents under my rear deck.  I see it all the time.  As I see it I check it for build up of lint or bird nests.  It isn't out of mind.
  2. It's up on the roof!  It is often very far away and hard to see.  If people can't see it clearly how can they be diligent about checking to see if clogging is happening?
  3. Dryer vents need to be cleaned regularly!  Somebody has to schlep up there and clean it!
  4. If the laundry room is on the bedroom level, which a lot of people really like, why not vent it out the side?  It is easier to see and get to.  Sure it might be high, but certainly not as difficult to access as one through the roof.
  5. When we have deep snow falls, which happens a lot, somebody better be really careful to make sure the vent is free and clear prior to turning on the dryer.  Dryers are known to overheat!

To me this is all a big duh!  But apparently not to architects and builders.  I don't understand the trend.  I consider this to be a safety issue!

This is the most common design of what I am seeing lately.

There are many variations of this, to be sure.

The idea is to make one that is not wind and rain vulnerable.  And too narrow and uncomfortable to encourage birds to get inside.  In my experience not much will deter birds when they get nesting spots in their heads.  But the designers are trying.

So, when I see one venting through the roof, I go through my little spiel of the downsides of such installations. 

My clients understand and are grateful for the head's up!

A house the other day had the worst design I have ever seen.  The vent was on the front of the house, directly over the third-floor laundry room.  To access it from the front a ladder would have to have been placed on the metal front porch roof!  Trust me, you don't want to do that.  And to access it from the rear a 40' ladder would be needed.  Most people don't have such a ladder.  And to hire somebody to do this will be expensive. 


In the report I did mention my bug-a-boo about the vent through the roof.

A couple of days later, while driving, I got a call from the very unpleasant listing agent.  She ripped me for mentioning the dryer vent, because, after all, this house did not have a laundry room!  She didn't appreciate me putting things on the report that do not exist and that I needed to change the report immediately.  The house has sat for a while and it might be because it does not have a laundry area and I am complicating her sales process by bringing up serious issues that do not exist!  It went on from there...

Really wanting to have some fun with this lady, but too tired to care, I asked her to please, please get back to me after I send her my solution to this problem.  She CURTLY said she would.  Quietly asking her email, I sent her these photos.

My email said only, "Upstairs hall closet, bedroom level, double doors."

I'm still waiting for her call.

Certainly she will call any minute.

This brush looks very much like the one I use to clean my dryer vent.  Click here.

My recommendation:  sometimes, just sometimes, we home inspectors are trying to think in advance and actually HELP our clients!  Be careful when you point a finger at another, because three are pointing back at you!  And be sure you are completely familiar with what you are selling!

Is that my phone ringing?

Oh, maybe not.  I'll wait.  Will I call her back?  No, a Scout is courteous.

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!