How to Vent a Basement Dryer correctly6 min read

Having a laundry room out of sight in the basement is neat and tidy, but venting a dryer in the basement can be challenging. Effective ventilation helps avoid fires caused by dryers and there are three viable options for the basement.   

To vent a standard dryer in a basement, you should either plumb a duct into an external wall or vent the dryer through the window using a ‘window dryer vent’. Venting through an external wall is the best long-term option but using a window to vent can be convenient. The other option is to use a ventless dryer. 

Many homeowners incorrectly assume that venting is already set up in the basement. In this article, I’ll walk you through exactly why ventilation within the basement is so important, and what options are, even if you can’t install an external ventilation duct.   

This article has been expert reviewed by Andy Fulenchek, a professional appliance repairman with over 10 years experience, and owner of Grace Appliance.

how to vent A Dryer In A Basement

Whist properly venting a dryer is important whichever room your dryer is in, it’s particularly important within the basement. Indoor humidity is always a huge problem in basements and laundry appliances create warm, moist air. This can lead to mold growth and musty odours, and sometimes even fires.

Basements make things difficult to acheive the ideal dryer vent. Pay special attention to the length of the vent & use a booster vent fan for ultra long vent lengths.

Andy Fulenchek

I grew up in a house with a forever-damp basement and the last thing you want is for a dryer to make the situation even worse, and smellier. Within this section, I’ll go through the specific dos and dont’s of basement dryer ventilation. 

Basement Dryer Vent System

Dryer ventilation should ALWAYS go outside 

A dryer vent must go outside and should never simply vent into the basement. When a dryer is operating, it produces hot, moist air that needs to be vented outside to prevent moisture buildup in the home.

Failure to properly vent a dryer can lead to a host of problems, including mold growth, mildew growth, reduced indoor air quality, and even fire hazards (see this article detailing dryer fire hazards by the National Fire Protection Association).

In addition to being a safety concern, many building codes require that dryer vents terminate outside. The International Residential Code (IRC) also states that dryer vents must terminate at least three feet from any openings in the building, such as windows and doors.

The NFPA also recommends that dryer vents be made of rigid or semi-rigid metal and not be connected with screws or other fasteners that could trap lint and create a fire hazard.

What Happens if Your Dryer Doesn’t Vent Outside?

If your dryer doesn’t vent outside, it can lead to a variety of problems that can impact both the performance of your dryer and the safety of your home. Let’s go through some of the reasons why you want your dryer to vent outside.

  • Mold Growth. As I mentioned before, dryers produce a lot of moisture and hot air when they operate, and if this air isn’t vented outside, it can build up inside your home. This excess moisture can lead to problems like mold growth, which can cause health issues for you and your family.
  • Carbon Monoxide Gas Build-Up. Particularly true of gas dryers, the most dangerous problem you could run into with a dryer that vents inside is a large amount of carbon monoxide gas. Gas dryers give off carbon monoxide when it operates which can potentially cause poisoning. 
  • Reduced Dryer Performance. When the hot air produced by the dryer is unable to properly vent, it can cause your dryer to take longer to dry your clothes.
  • Your Dryer Could Be a Fire Risk. The most dangerous potential consequence of not venting your dryer outside is the buildup of lint in your home. Lint is the small fibers that come off your clothes during the drying process, and if it’s not properly vented outside, it can accumulate in your dryer and throughout your home. 

Lint can create a fire hazard, as it is highly flammable and can ignite if it comes into contact with a heat source like your dryer’s heating element. From 2010-2014, fire departments in the U.S. responded to about 16,000 home fires caused by clothes dryers per year.

In 2020 it was reported that over 3,000 house fires were caused by clothes dryers, so properly venting your dryer and regularly cleaning out its lint trap are extremely important steps to establishing a basement laundry room.

the 2 best methods of venting a Dryer in the Basement

Venting a dryer in the basement can be challenging, but it is an important step in creating a basement laundry room. Venting your dryer ensures proper ventilation and can prevent hazardous situations like fire or the buildup of harmful gasses.

I’ll go through the best options for venting a dryer in the basement. I’ve tried to provide a few options because I know every basement setup is difficult and it might not be possible for some people to create a typical external vent, for example, if your basement is underground without outside walls. 

Keep reading until the end of the first option doesn’t apply to you and you aren’t able to vent outside as there are some great alternatives! 

The best option: Creating an external ventilation duct 

Step 1: Plan Out Your Dryer Vent Location

The dryer vent should be installed on an exterior wall or roof to allow moist air to escape outside. Determine the shortest route from your dryer to the location selected. A straight line is best. 

Note: there are specific rules you should follow regarding the maximum length of the ducting with the max being 35ft and for every 45-degree turn you should remove 2.5 feet in total allotted length. For every 90-degree turn, you should remove 5 feet.

Step 3: Gather Materials

The exact vent kit you will need will depend on the distance you need the vent to cover, but generally, you want one like this BROAN-NUTONE kit (on Amazon), which comes with a cap for your vent to prevent things, like animals, from getting in.

You’ll also need a vent cover for the outside – use this guide for the best dryer vent covers.

Note: The duct you purchase should be made of rigid metal or flexible aluminum.

Step 4: Drill a Hole

You will need to drill a hole through the wall or ceiling to create an opening for the vent. You’ll likely want to measure the height and width of your tubing to determine what size your hole should be.

If you’re drilling through concrete, you’ll need a hammer drill and masonry bit. Make sure to wear protective goggles and a mask to avoid inhaling dust. 

Step 5: Install the Vent Kit

Once the hole is drilled, you can install the vent kit. Start by inserting the vent hood into the hole and securing it with screws.

Next, attach the duct to the vent hood using duct tape or a clamp. Then, connect the other end of the duct to the dryer’s vent using another clamp or duct tape to prevent it from coming loose.

Option 2: venting your dryer into a basement window 

Venting a dryer through the basement window is a convenient option for homeowners who aren’t able to install an external duct. This may be due to the setup of the basement walls, construction limitations, or simply that homeowners don’t want to drill into walls. 

Window Ventilation For Basement Dryer

The most important factor is that waste and humidity produced by the dryer ventilates to the outside, but there are a few things you should consider regarding safety and practicalities. 

Pros

  • If an external duct is not feasible (lack of space, restrictions to building codes etc) utilizing an existing window can be an easy solution. 
  • No major modifications are needed to the house’s structure saving time, effort, and expense. 
  • Straightforward installation process. 

Cons

  • Natural light will be restricted from entering the basement as the venting mechanism occupies a portion of the window space.
  • Venting through a window may not be as efficient. Compared to going straight out the wall, the vent duct may be longer and include bends.
  • Limited window functionality. Opening and closing the window might become more cumbersome, and the ability to use it for ventilation or natural light may be compromised.
  • Security concerns. Whilst my dryer is in the back of the house and this isn’t an issue, for some people leaving a window unlocked may increase the chances of larceny theft occurring, or break ins.

Installing a dryer vent within your window is pretty easy with a window dryer vent (on Amazon). Here’s a video showing how it works: 

Alternatives to venting the dryer in your basement 

For some homeowners, venting their basement dryer isn’t an option. This may be because there are no external windows, or perhaps the walls are too thick to drill through.

An easy and effective alternative is to use a dryer that doesn’t require ventilation. This is a fantastic option for a basement given the existing dampness and humidity present in most basements. I have a ventless dryer and from first hand experience, it’s just as powerful and effective as my previous vented dryer. The most annoying thing about it is the need to regularly empty the water.

Here’s a picture of my Samsung ventless dryer… It looks exactly the same as a normal one!

My ventless dryer

The best things about ventless dryers is that you don’t need to ventilate them through a window or outside your basement. 

The two main types are condenser dryers (on Amazon) and heat pump dryers (on Amazon) and I’ll briefly run through what they are, and the pros and cons of each. 

Condenser Dryer vs Heat Pump tumble dryer 

A condenser dryer works by removing moisture from laundry and draining it in a condensed water tank, which you’ll need to empty regularly. Heat pump dryers use advanced technology to dry clothes by utilizing a heat pump system. 

  • Heat Pump dryers are very energy efficient since they reheat and recycle heated air. They use roughly half the energy of condenser dryers and are the most efficient type of dryer you can get. 
  • Heat Pump dryers are able to dry your clothes at a lower temperature compared to condenser dryers. This could mean your laundry lasts longer and no one wants burn marks on their clothes.
  • Drying times are much better on a condenser dryer. Although efficient, a heat pump dryer takes around 4 hours for a full cycle. 
  • Both condenser and heat pump dryers are expensive ($850+) you’ll pay more initially for a heat pump dryer. 

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

Andy Fulenchek
Owner at Grace Appliance | Website | + posts

Andy is a professional appliance repairman and business owner with years of hands-on experience. He co-authors and reviews appliance articles, ensuring accuracy and top-notch information for readers.

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