Routing a Dryer Vent Hose

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Cleaning Dryer Vents

Dear NH,
I am installing a new electric dryer on the first floor of my home. I would like to know if I can run the dryer vent down through the floor and then out a cellar window, as opposed to running it through the external wall.
DG from Coxsackie, NY

Yes, you can! You will need to remove the glass from the appropriate pane and replace it with a piece of heavy aluminum or galvanized steel sheet metal with a hole cut in it to accommodate the dryer vent. If the glass is held into the window with metal brackets, they will probably also hold the sheet metal. However, if the glass is actually glazed with putty, you will have to first clean all the old putty out and then glue the sheet metal in place with an exterior water-based adhesive caulk. "Adhesive" is the word of the day... not all caulks will hold the sheet metal in place once the dryer vent hose is attached. Most oil-based exterior caulks do not have adequate adhesive properties, and silicone caulk, though a quality caulking product, can be unreliable as an adhesive depending on the materials being glued. "Clean" is also a word of the day... if you don't remove all the putty and lightly sand the metal, the caulk just might not stick.

I usually cut the hole in the sheet metal with a carbide 4 1/4" hole saw. Place the sheet metal on a piece of scrap wood so that you have a solid backer for the hole saw and clamp the entire assembly down so it doesn't rotate if the hole saw catches the metal as it "breaks through". This can be tricky and dangerous, especially if the sheet metal begins to wildly spin… so clamp it securely, wear gloves and eye protection. If you don't have a hole saw or you want to use a safer method, use metal-cutting shears instead. Drill a few holes in the metal first to get a starting point for your cut. If you are really lucky, you will find a hardware store that sells a generic metal or plastic insert for this purpose... I haven't seen one in ages but that doesn't mean they're not out there somewhere!

copyright 2001 G.G. Alonzy

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