How to Remedy Faulty Dryer Ventilation [Video Look at a ’70s-Built Apartment]

by | BiggerPockets.com

When adding amenities and upgrades to older properties, it’s important to think through each step of the project in advance. Not every owner does so, and this can lead to unintended consequences.

In-unit washer and dryer hookups, for example, appeal to a higher demographic and can be a great upgrade to an older property. However, care must be given to a variety of factors, in particular proper ventilation. The main question is:

How are you going to get that hot, damp, lint-filled dryer exhaust out of the building?



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What Are the Risks of Bad Dryer Ventilation?

In this segment, we take a look at the washer and dryer hookups installed as an upgrade in a 1970s-built apartment property. We discover the previous owner answered the question posed above with, “Screw it, we won’t figure out how to get it out of the building at all!” Who can blame them for trying to save a few bucks, right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong pumping heat, moisture, and lint into the same closet that holds the AC air handler and the water heater? Glad you asked. For starters:

  • Over time, the lint can collect and become a fire hazard.
  • The lint can also quickly clog the filter on the AC unit.
  • Regularly adding warm, moist air to a closet is just begging for a mold problem.
  • Condensation can cause electrical issues.
  • In the summer, the AC unit and dryer are in a fight to the death—one is working overtime to get heat out of the apartment, while the other is pumping heat and humidity into it.
  • The added heat and humidity not only make for a less comfortable environment for the resident, but also drive up their utility bills.

Of course, you would never do something like this, but what if you were to buy a building where somebody already has? Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to remedy this upgrade gone wrong. Watch this video for tips on how to spot a ventilation issue and a couple solutions for when you find it in one of your properties.

Have any of your rentals had ventilation issues? How did you solve them?

Leave your questions and comments below!

About Author

Andrew Cushman

Andrew Cushman is a former chemical engineer who found his entrepreneurial calling in real estate. In 2007 Andrew left his corporate position to start a business in real estate investment, starting off flipping single family properties. Sensing a shift in the market, in 2010 Andrew transitioned to multifamily acquisitions and has successfully syndicated and repositioned just under 1,700 multi family units. Outside of the business world, Andrew has been a certified alpine ski instructor and when not working in real estate enjoys surfing, backcountry skiing, and trying to not be outwitted by his 5 and 3-year-old boys.

14 Comments

    • Andrew Cushman

      Good to hear, as I do have more of these planned. It’s great to read and talk about stuff, but sometimes the best way to learn is to go see it in the real world! Anything in particular you think would make a good topic for a video?

  1. Seth Levey

    I bought a condo with the laundry closet squarely in the middle of all the other rooms. Clearly they were not thinking about external ventilation as you encountered as well. I ran the dryer vent up into the subfloor of the next level and out the siding to vent it to the outside. I would have preferred to run it down instead of up, but it wasn’t really feasible. It hasn’t created any major problem for me. I’m glad to see you chose a similar solution and hope this worked out well for you, too!

  2. lisa odonnell

    We have a house built to passive standards which means very tight with little air infiltration. In that vein, neither a combustible appliance nor ceiling penetration is a wise option. We purchased a heat pump electric dryer that drains the moisture directly into your washing machine drain pipe. It’s super efficient and doesn’t need venting — anywhere! It’s a condo owner’s dream. It ain’t cheap, but it’s efficient and a huge problem solver. This one is by Whirlpool and I really like it. Sure it produces heat in the summer but our laundry room has a window and I am sure to open it to allow heat to escape outside (or at least try to).

    • Andrew Cushman

      Lisa, thanks for your insight. I actually had not heard of those! I checked them out and while they are a bit too expensive for most C or B apartments, they are a great alternative if the other venting options don’t exist. Thanks for adding to my “toolbox”!

  3. The last place I bought had the dryer vented into the utility room. This is the same room that houses the gas heater and 2 gas hot water heaters. It is amazing the place didn’t burn down with 25 years of lint in the room. What a mess. I put in a new vent to the outside.

  4. Trenton Bolfer

    Important to note that this something restricted by building codes with the max length of the ridged vent duct being 25 feet to the outside with every 90 degree turn counting as 5 feet and each 45 degree turn counted as 2.5 feet. Any run greater than 25 feet requires a booster fan. These can be wired with a current switch so that it runs when the dryer runs.

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