Laundry room ventilation issues often come up during installation of a washer or dryer, or when the home is new or being remodeled. Ventilation is more than a matter of keeping room temperature in control, though. Building codes impose very specific requirements for certain aspects of laundry room ventilation which are vital to fire safety, as well as healthy indoor air quality.
Two important issues addressed by proper ventilation are:
- Lint fire hazards. If a dryer is not properly vented, internal temperatures may rise high enough to ignite flammable lint produced by the drying process. Fire may erupt in the dryer as well as spread into walls through the vent pipe. About 3,000 damaging dryer fires happen annually. Airborne lint fibers leaking out of a defective vent pipe are also a breathing hazard.
- Excess humidity. During the spin cycle, a washing machine emits water vapor. Resultant condensation forming on surfaces may trigger mold growth and deteriorate building materials.
Here are some factors to consider when thinking about laundry room ventilation.
- According to the International Building Code, a dryer vent pipe must be fabricated of smooth metal and at least 4-inches in diameter. It must extend all the way to a termination point outdoors. Total length of the vent pipe cannot exceed 35 feet. This maximum length is reduced by 2.5 feet for every 45-degree bend in the pipe and 5 feet for 90-degree bends. Plastic flexible vent pipes pose a fire hazard and are no longer permitted by building codes.
- Installation of a powered vent fan in the ceiling or an exterior wall is most effective to vent humidity. The fan should provide adequate cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air volume per manufacturer’s specs to ventilate the square footage of the room. A fan installed in the ceiling must connect to a duct that extends to the exterior of the house. Never vent laundry room air into the attic.
For professional dryer vent cleaning or other key home comfort and safety concerns, contact Jackson & Sons.