Flex Ducts on Dryers, Convenient but Bad

Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. Home Inspector Lic #207
We home inspectors see accordion style flimsy flex duct over and over again on dryers and air-handling equipment. I would say that it is present in 90% of homes that I inspect. In newer homes it is often a short length behind a dryer. It does not go through the wall but connects to smooth metal ducting that takes the exhaust through the crawl space. However, in older homes, and some that are not so old, I have seen the flex duct leave the back of the dryer and run through the wall and about 20 feet to the outside. That is a real no, no. Often it is broken and the crawl space is full of lint. Duct tape and flex duct seem to go together. This flex duct, being easy for the homeowner to twist and bend, has found its way into use in air handling or exhaust ducts, such as bath fans. Once I saw a homeowner use it for an honest to goodness heat duct from the furnace.

Fact is, doubly so for dryers, flex duct is not a desirable product. It is pretty obvious that the ridges will collect lint and look at the sag in the duct below. This collected lint is probably more prone to causing damage to the dryer, as it overheats, than causing a fire -- but that could happen as well.  Personally, if it is a short length, used as a connector, I tell people the facts. If it is a twisted concoction like the one below, that is coming apart and all taped together, I suggest an immediate upgrade to smooth metal ducting.

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspections

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Steven L. Smith

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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

A home inspector once told my buyer that the ducts in the attic were the flex type and he, the home inspector, didn't like that type ducts. My buyer backed out and that was my first time to call a home inspector a "deal killer".  He went off and found himself a newer home which I couldn't blame him for but that inspector still has the name!  lol

Aug 04, 2008 05:47 AM #1
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Abbott Realtors - Mahwah, NJ
I would love to help you buy or sell your home!

Thanks for the info --- it is great to see and an easy fix! Always better to be safe than sorry.


Aug 04, 2008 06:41 AM #2
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


Looks like you are the realtor my mama warned me about.

Aug 04, 2008 09:27 AM #3
Sean Allen
International Financing Solutions - Fort Myers, FL
International Financing Solutions

Unfortunately I'm not surprised that this stuff is still used in many homes. I was not aware of the danges until I got on AR and learned it from your guys.

Sean allen

Aug 04, 2008 11:51 AM #4
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

I like the duct tape job on the venting as well...

Aug 04, 2008 10:15 PM #5
Gary Collins

As the owner of Dryer Vent Wizard in the Cleveland, OH area I can tell you it is a bad idea to use the flex duct type material. I have changed quite a few that had burn holes in them or were even melted to the back of the dryer. The metal foil type may not melt to the back of the dryer when pushed up against it but it will still crush and severely restrict the airflow. As you say this causes the dryer to run less effieciently and causes it to work harder shortening the life of it's components. Good article and I hope consumers pay attention.

Aug 08, 2008 09:19 AM #6
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Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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