What I'm Seeing Now

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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 it will be expensive. 

SO HAVE A NICE DAY!  ENJOY YOUR NEW DRYER VENT!

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.

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.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 31 commentsJay Markanich • April 27 2011 07:06AM

Comments

Hi Jay. You hit the problem spot. I inspected a brick home last year that had a dryer vent that ran through the roof. Only problem was it had a 38' run. The lint had settled and was over heating the dryer. I recommended the buyers remove it and run it out through the exterior wall. A run of only 2'.

Thanks for the info.

Clint McKie 

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 9 years ago

For sure Clint.  The longer the run, the more inefficient the dryer anyway.  And the more area to clog!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Good morning, Jay. You "venting" again? I am not a huge fan of updraft vents either, but what is a poor inspector to do...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I am Michael.  With reason.  We can do nothing now, but warn.  Maybe start an advocacy group!  We can become the NUVs.  No Upward Vents!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Our first home had a roof vent and it was awful to deal with.  Good post, Jay!

Posted by Bruce Walter (Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana) over 9 years ago

Bruce - life experience can be a cruel, but effective, teacher!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

You just touched one of my hot buttons on dumb construction details.

These things are horrible.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

I like pushing buttons Mike!  Good for me.  And good for you for recognizing it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I completely agree, this is a dumb idea. I found this on a condo the other day. That's a lot of dryers venting through the roof.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wow, and a lot of potential problems endangering the entire condo Jim.  I'm thinking snow...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, Can't say up and through the roof makes a heckuva lot of sense to me.  Even with the vent that comes out by our deck, often stopping to clean lint pieces off the flappers.  Now up on the roof?  That's just trouble waiting to happen!

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 9 years ago

Agreed Bliz.  I don't understand the trend.  But who am I?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay - I have a friend who purchased a home a couple of years ago (my recommendation was to pass on the home, but that's another story) and the dryer is vented through the roof.  To properly clean it requires a 40' ladder and a climb up the roof--not something the owner is interested in doing.

Venting dryers through the roof is a terrible idea for many reasons, and if there were no other possibilities for re-routing a dryer, I'd pass on homes that have such vents. (BTW, my friend's vent has already clogged and slowed drying time)

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 9 years ago

That trend has not made it this far north and for all the reasons Jay brought up I hope it never does. Depth of snow on roofs here would see them buried for significant periods of time.

I would point out to buyers that it has a cost/efficiency price as the blocked vent increases dryer operation times.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 9 years ago

So let me get this straight:  There was indeed a laundry room and the agent did not know about it?

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 9 years ago

Jay, I have these same conversations with clients.  Like the one on a three story townhouse roof with a 12/12 pitch.  I think in time this will find its way into the code where dryer vents have to be terminated in a "readibly accessible" area.  Another beef I have is when they terminate through the roof and it would have been just as easy to go out through the gable end of the home.  Duh.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I love this post Jay. Again this is a topic I've never heard of but am now glad to be aware of. Maybe the house hasn't sold because the agent is clueless as to what she is selling. Perhaps her call to you will go like: "Ooops, my bad, didn't notice that 3rd floor up there. Could you please send a picture of the stairs so I could find it?".

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) over 9 years ago

Nice.  There is a laundry area, and the agent wasn't aware of it.

I second Clint's note, of course they'll clog that way!  Gravity works great, still!

And I do have a 40' laddder, and it takes a 2 man crew to operate, so you're right about not being inexpensive.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

John - we can lead a horse to water...

And not surprising on the dryer vent!

Robert - I am still amazed at this practice, particularly on really high roofs.  I think it is dumb at best.

Coral - when she first called, I thought she was joking!  But the tone of voice said otherwise, about 10 more words into it.  Maybe there was some conversation months ago about the laundry room being planned for another spot, and she didn't see it and didn't know!

Gee Charlie, on a 12/12 you just have to lean a long ladder flush against the roof and start scaling!  Again, I think it is dumb practice at best!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Bob - it is a really expensive house in a rural area.  Kind of out of the way.  It would need to be purchased by retirees, who have an interest in being off by themselves.  Like my clients!

Jeremy - I have a 30' ladder under my deck, which I break out now and then, and that sucker is heavy!  I'm not sure why, but it gets heavier every year.

I'm sure this lady will be calling any day now, maybe this afternoon!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, part of the problem is dryer manufacturers.  Most state that they are capable of pushing through a 100' vent.  Needless to say they don't state (all but one that I have found) that that 100' shouldn't be straight up.  I think (and this is a guess) that I have had a problem with at least 80% of the Dryer vents I've seen.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

Jack - my dryer vent is 20' but it is a straight shot out the back of my house, only about 6' high.  These straight up vents, through the roof, are always going to be a problem for those people.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I would never want a vent up there.  As you said, hard to check and dealing with snow?! Forget about it!

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 9 years ago

Justin - why does it seem so common sense to you and to me?  I really don't get it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

First.... I have no use for any ladder over 4 feet... even if I should. Afraid of heights. Kinda silly to think of a 6'-9" er being afraid of heights.

Second.... I'm not a "scout". Give me her e-mail address. I'd love to directer her to a great blog by by a great inspector that I'm sure we all know.  :-)

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) over 9 years ago

Well, thanks Brad.  I have to wonder if she did not have this house mixed up with another.  But still, the dryer vent is dumb!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Good post. It really does amaze me at times how little thought is put into some things. I always want to ask the builder, would you do this on your house?

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I agree Donald.  The Golden Rule has turned more and more into tin...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm leaning hard on this button -- I sold an older beach condo to a dear friend several years back and asked the Home Inspector to take special note of this same scenario.  His response:  No problem, it's fine; pretty standard.  Strongly suggested my Client/Friend/Agent request this be addressed.  (Actually had him sign-off on a letter memorializing this issue.)

Long story, short:  He passed, figured the HI knew his business, and after all, he was a licensed agent, albeit from another state.  Had a small fire 3 months later as a result.  Damage was minor because he was there, but could have been catastrophic.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 9 years ago

Jay, I only recommend that arrangement for little old ladies who can benefit from the ladder climb and need the excitement of danger on high.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Tish - it is becoming standard, but that doesn't mean it isn't a problem and doesn't need to be checked!  Because of their direction, upward, they can clog easily.

Steve - funny you say that because there is a retirement community near us and I have done many in there.  All the dryers vent through the roof.  That will make for some fun at some future time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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