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Venting Your Basement Washing Machine and Dryer

Like many people in Charlotte, NC, you probably do most if not all of your laundry in the basement. This is a vast space that can accommodate water pipes, your washing machine, and the dryer, among other fixtures. But because it tends to get humid and stuffy, you have to consider how you’ll get the moisture and harmful gases out. These could build up over time and hurt your basement, making life unbearable. Excessive moisture and humidity create conditions for mold growth and unpleasant odors that not only affect the basement, but the rest of your home as well. 

We’ll show you why outside venting is appropriate for your laundry appliances and the considerations you should make before implementing a ventilation system. 

Venting the Dryer 

Once you wash your clothing, you’ll likely use a dryer to remove moisture load. This moisture will collect in the atmosphere if it has nowhere to go, which isn’t good for the health of your basement. Dryer vents create a suction force that dries out the clothing and subsequently remove lint, allowing air to flow more effectively. The dryer vent exhaust should go outdoors where gases, lint, and warm air get expelled. Be sure there are no duct leaks that might let in humid air. 

You can’t run a dryer safely without proper ventilation. An effective dryer vent also enables the dryer to operate efficiently. Potential effects of running a dryer without a vent include: 

  • Fire hazards. Lint can block a poorly drained dryer, and this might trigger a potential fire. Plus, it can catch fire when temperatures soar and burn down your house. 
  • Mold growth. Inappropriate venting of the dryer can cause moisture to collect in various parts of the basement. Such moist air will serve as a breeding ground for mold
  • Carbon monoxide. Without proper venting, the dryer can also fill up the basement with gas, which will float into the living space and poison inhabitants. 

Venting the Washing Machine 

Your washing machine also needs to be vented to the outside. Some people opt for a convenient drain line, which entails installing a pipe that goes to the washer. Omitting the trap and vent can result in problems. The absence of a P-trap exposes the basement to hazardous fumes, and the lack of venting will cause the drain to run slowly and overflow. 

Want to drain your washing machine properly? Install a standpipe that connects to the P-trap, and ultimately, the drain. The upper part must rise above the overflow level of the machine and be properly vented. A plumber can help with standpipe installation if the laundry section has unfinished walls. 

The plumbing code requires the basement to have a venting if the P-trap is installed. Otherwise, negative pressure will pull out the water and render the trap useless. Omitting the vent can also cause the drain to overflow. Ideally, the vent has to rise for five feet. To vent a two-inch drain, use a one-and-a-half-inch pipe. 

How Do I Vent? 

Your dryer or washing machine must vent to the outside and not the attic or crawl space. The moist air that builds up inside can cause mold growth and wood rot, among other issues. Section joints can also get clogged and develop backpressure, which can blow the joint apart. When this happens, damp, moist air can blow into the basement. 

Though many homes have a dryer vent outlet that goes up through the wall or roof, some housing situations don’t provide the luxury of this type of ventilation. In such cases, the homeowner has to consider alternative arrangements to vent exhaust gases from the dryer. The most sensible thing to do is vent the dryer through the nearest window. It’s a lifesaver for people who have no other option but still want to enjoy the benefit of having a dryer right in the basement. 

Clogged Vents 

After years of use, the vent pipe can get clogged with lint, which obstructs airflow. The result is that your clothes won’t dry fast, and the dryer may short cycle or shut down. Worse, the heating element can burn out. When connecting your dryer to the vent system, try to use flexible aluminum, as it’s smooth on the inside. 

Corrugated materials don’t impede good airflow and will trap lint instead of letting it go through. Ensure the screen on the outside is clean and free flowing. Ideally, your vent system should be as short and straight as possible with its discharge extending far from their air conditioner. If your clothes feel damp after running a dryer or there’s a burnt odor when drying them, your dryer could be clogged. Schedule a free basement repair inspection and quote with Mount Valley Foundation Services if you notice more moisture and humidity around your laundry area, and get answers as well as the best fixes to many common moisture issues today.