Energy costs are soaring! So why are we allowing our clothes dryers to vent all this precious heat and moisture to the outside? Our furnace dries the air, causing upper respiratory problems. It just makes sense that the heat and moisture from our clothes dryer could be beneficial and energy saving at the same time. Why not disconnect the dryer vent hose to add heat and humidity to the air in the winter?
Air Diverters are devices that have been used in the past for allowing dryer heat to be filtered into the home. When we experienced an energy crisis in the seventies, people purchased this type of combination air filter/valve that was installed between the clothes dryer exhaust vent and the outside dryer vent. It was a type of valve that allowed you to switch to either direct the heated air to the outside or divert it through a filter into your home.
Since a lot of people live in colder areas and need to add heat and moisture to the air in their homes, this could be helpful. But read on for some warnings and decide for yourself if it is worth the risk when there are other options for heating your home and adding humidity to the air.
Gas Dryers: These air diverters are not intended for use on gas dryers. Gas dryers produce more than just heat and moisture. The dryer ducts on a gas dryer also remove the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from your home. These byproducts of burnt gas should not be allowed to vent into your home and they cannot be filtered.
Filters: Lint traps catch most of the lint that is removed from laundry during drying, but some of the lint does escape into the dryer duct system to hopefully make it to the vent outside. Allowing this to vent back into your home can be a health hazard for some people. It is also messy; you don't want moist lint sticking to the walls and floors of your home. Be sure to use a good filter with this device to catch the lint and check it often to be sure it is not plugged when lint builds up or you are creating a fire hazard.
Mildew: Using a diverter device will allow a huge amount of moisture into your home; more than what is really needed to avoid the respiratory problems caused by dry air. You will likely experience excessive condensation on your windows and door frames. When this condensation runs down and soaks into your wood trim, it will cause moisture damage and allow mold and mildew to grow. Like dry air, mold also causes respiratory problems with most people, especially children.
There was a time when it was quite common for people to heat and humidify the air in their homes with their clothes dryers, but this idea has been proven to not be worth the risk of carbon monoxide poising or over moisturizing the air. Too much moisture and mildew are also causes of health and upper respiratory problems. Moisture can easily be added to the air by placing a shallow pan or bowl of water by heat vents or installing a humidifier on your furnace. Just adding humidity to the air will make your home feel warmer. So the decision is yours; risk health issues and damage to your home to save on energy costs, or talk to your heating specialist about installing a humidifier on your furnace and maybe investing in some good weather stripping around doors and windows.
This article was written by Bryan Linz, owner of Dryer Vent Wizard of Central Pennsylvania. http://www.dryerventwizard offers a host of tips, tools, news reports, and links to help you keep your family and home safe from dryer fires. Dryer Vent Wizards inspects, cleans, repairs, and replaces dryer vent systems for home and business owners.