Tag Archives: dryer vent

Challenges

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First let me say that I know there are “challenges” – of the type that interrupt the smooth passage of my days and give me writing material and reason to feel sorry for myself – and then there are Challenges.

I am aware of what’s going on along the Gulf Coast. I’m watching the events unfold with my heart in my mouth, terrified for all affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. I know that my little worries are not even worth mentioning, in comparison. However, the news I see is the same news we’re all watching. I’m sure my fears and concerns are no more enlightened or caring than those of the next guy. I can’t offer anything that isn’t already out there. So, as usual, I write about my own measly problems.

Yesterday, in my little house on the Fox Lake Road, the plan was to get my new vent hooked up to the clothes dryer, so that I could go back to putting laundry through the system. The new vent had arrived via UPS delivery to one of the airports here on Beaver Island…on my birthday, no less! I had read the instructions, puzzled over the placement, and accessorized with the purchase of a right angle fitting and two hose clamps. From the hardware’s “Super Savers” section, I grabbed a package of two stubby screwdrivers, just in case. I was ready…or so I thought.

There is narrow space between the dryer and the stairway wall. A nine-and-a-half inch space, to be exact, when the dryer is pushed up tight against the washing machine. That was the space I had to force my chubby self through, in order to unplug the dryer, so that I could push it forward.

Then, after sweeping out the dust and detritus that had collected there, I removed the flexible hose from the back of the dryer. In its place, I hooked up the new right-angle fitting. Using one of my brand new hose clamps, I attached one end of the flexible hose to that. The other end would fit into the bottom of my new interior vent.

The next step was to attach the vent to the wall. It wouldn’t fit on the wall behind the dryer, as an overhead cupboard gets in the way. It had to be mounted on the side wall, toward the front, so I could access the door to clean it out. I removed a framed drawing (made by my daughter, Kate, when she was six years old); for the sake of venting the dryer, it had to be relocated.

I held the vent in place and poked a purple marker through each of the holes on the back of the box, to mark the spots to put in the screw anchors. Then, because the power screw driver was not where it belonged, and I didn’t want to waste time searching for it, I made four 1/8 inch holes with my hand drill. Then I tapped the four anchors in place. The screws would go through the holes on the back of the vent, and right into the anchors, holding everything firmly in place. For just a moment there, I was feeling euphorically proud of myself.

I had three screws in place, using my new stubby Phillips-head screwdriver, when I stepped back to take a look at my handiwork. Crooked! How the hell had I managed to not see that the holes I hand drilled for the anchors were not in line with the edge of the wall – just inches away – or the floor, or the poster hanging above it?  I hadn’t used a level, but I’m usually pretty good about eye-balling a straight line, especially with so many reference points. I could attribute my error only to the fact that I was crawling on hands and knees in a very narrow space.

What to do now? I clearly could not leave it hanging crookedly; that would drive me crazy! Plastic anchors are not generally reusable, assuming I could get them out, and removing them would leave four additional holes in the wall. I didn’t have extra anchors. Reluctantly, I removed every screw. I adjusted the location of the vent box to hide the unused anchors. I carefully leveled the vent. I secured it to the wall with the screws alone. Not advisable, with hollow sheet rock walls, but it would have to do.

Next, I crawled back behind the dryer to retrieve the flexible tube. I hooked the other end of it to the bottom of the new vent. I pulled the dryer back toward me to plug it in. Then, to get out. Now, to make my way out of that narrow passage, I had to go under the dryer hose and vent box! It was touch and go for a while there, but I made it.

I pushed the dryer back in place, inserted the filter into the new vent, and dried a load of clothes. Finished! All told, it took two hours yesterday, and a lot of cursing. I am newly, excruciatingly aware of how lumpy and inflexible my body is. I see the importance of having the correct tools, and of (for heavens sake!) double checking for accuracy. Still, I count the whole venture as a successful challenge. Ta-daah!!

 

It’s Complicated

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Maybe it’s too complicated, even, to convey in a story. Where to begin?

I’m behind on laundry. Fortunately, it’s been a little chilly, so I don’t look totally out of place when I pull from my fall and winter wardrobe. I have a load of darks in the washing machine, and a big basket full of whites and colors to be washed. I don’t, at this time, have a dryer. As rain has been in the forecast, I haven’t wanted to put clothes on the line.

I do have a clothes dryer; I just can’t use it until I get it vented. When this house was first built, the dryer sat inside the south wall of the house, and was directly vented to the outside. When I did some remodeling about twenty years ago, it was moved to an inside wall. The venting ran up inside the wall, across the floor of the attic space that runs beside the upstairs rooms in my story-and-a-half house, and out through the soffit.

Some time ago, I realized the dryer wasn’t venting properly. Loads were taking too long to dry. On investigating, I found that the vent in the wall was completely clogged with dryer lint. The attic space had been filled with cellulose insulation (blown-in insulation) a while ago when the house was winterized, so I could no longer access the venting system to see what was causing the problem. I pulled out the dryer lint and as much of the vent pipe as I could from the hole behind the dryer. Then, I patched the hole.

Then, I got one of those indoor venting systems that use a lidded bucket filled with water to collect the lint. Aunt Katie recommended it. She used one, and said it did a fine job.

Well, it never did a fine job for me. I found there was a constant layer of fine dust over all surfaces in that area of the house. Even in the winter, when there should be no dust coming in. Also, the clips that hold the lid on were made of plastic, and broke easily. I’ve gone through three of them in the last few years. Too cheap to buy yet another one, I have been making do with the latest one, long past what would be reasonable.

After putting clothes in the dryer, I would fill the bottom – bucket section – of the vent with water to the indicator line. I would then spend an ungodly amount of time trying to fit the top part on correctly. Since it had a broken clip, I had to hold it in place while I started the dryer (an acrobatic feat!). Then, to keep the lid in place, I had to fit the dog’s nyla-bone into one of the vent holes, and balance it there just right to hold the lid on. And, the issue of dust prevailed.

When Aunt Katie died, my sister mentioned that the space under her old refrigerator was clogged with dryer lint, due to that venting system. I took that as proof positive that the dust in my house was caused by my interior dryer vent. Something had to be done!

The dryer can’t be moved. Closets now line the south wall of my laundry room, and the electrical connection is no longer there. It sounded much too expensive and labor-intensive to try to vent up through the wall again…not to mention the fire hazard when it doesn’t work properly.

On Amazon.com, I found a better vent. That’s the name of it, actually: “Better Vent” It was certainly more expensive, but worth it if it works. It has a two-filter system enclosed in a rectangular box, that hangs on the wall. No bucket of water. The clips that release the door to clean the filters appear to be sturdy and seem to function easily and properly.

Now, to hook it up. That has had me stymied for a week! First, I needed to buy two hose clamps in the four-inch size. Then, I needed to find my screwdriver. Next, I bought a rigid right-angle to attach to the dryer, as the booklet said that was necessary. The instructions also said to be sure not to make more than two right angle turns with the dryer vent hose.

Above and behind the dryer would be ideal, I thought, once I’d determined that I could reach it to clean the filters. Not enough space there, though, between the top of the dryer and the cupboard that hangs above it. That means it has to go on the wall beside the dryer, in the narrow space available there, enough to the front so that I can open the door to clean the vents. That is perfectly possible, if I move a picture that hangs there. And if I don’t count right angle turns to get there.

I’ve now been at this for a week. I have the next two days off. If I put everything else on hold, and give this project my full attention, I ought to be back in the laundry business soon. I hope.

Why does every little thing seem so complicated?!?