Q. The 4-inch vent opening in our basement wall is covered by only five vinyl louvers. This allows cold air to enter the venting and the dryer, and, of course, the basement. Is there any way to decrease the heat energy loss without compromising fire safety?
A. With the cool temperatures we have had lately, I am sure you have lost some heat out of your dryer vent. The most extreme way to solve the problem is to disconnect the dryer pipe after each use and stuff fiberglass insulation into the hole. Then when you use the dryer again remove the insulation and reconnect the pipe. Like anyone has time for that. However, all is not lost.
Deflect-o Hardware company makes a device to help out with this. It is the Dryer Vent Draft Blocker Model BD04. When the dryer is off, the flapper closes. When the dryer goes on, it reopens. This inexpensive device easily attaches to the vent pipe and the clothes dryer duct. It will not keep all the cold air from coming in, but it will make a big difference. As a safety note, the Draft Blocker must be cleaned periodically to remove lint that builds up.
You are not done yet. You'll have to do two more things:
1. Look around the hole in the wall where the dryer duct goes through the wall. You'll probably see some gaps around the pipe. This is letting cold air in. Use a product called Great Stuff (foam in a can) to foam the holes shut. Remember this product will swell as you spray it. If you overspray don't try to remove it until it dries. It can be messy so wear gloves.
2. Make sure the rim joist (the board that your floor joist attaches to) is insulated. Use R-13 insulation cut to size and lightly place it in the cavities. Include your dryer duct with this.
To block the draft
Tools/materials needed - Deflect-o Draft Blocker ($5.87), Can of Great Stuff ($4.89), insulation, small roll ($10), all available at hardware stores; prices are from Home Depot
Difficulty - Easy
Time - 30 minutes to two hours
Bill Hibbs is the store manager for Home Depot in Fairview Heights. He has been in the home improvement business for more than 30 years.
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