How to Install a Dryer Vent in a Tight Space
Hooking up the vent for a clothes dryer is challenging in the best of situations, since the outlet is tight up against the back of the appliance. It becomes even more challenging when the overall space is very tight, such as when the dryer is located in a small closet.
When hooking up a dryer that has a wall vent near the dryer discharge vent, you may require a special dryer vent connector, an offset dryer vent. These special vents use two opposing vent connections that slide on tracks to adjust the distance between the center of each vent and also allow rotational flexibility. The vents typically allow a range from center to center (0-inch offset) to 24- to 48-inch offsets, depending on the size and style of offset vent used.
The dryer's vent connection is the same whether you have a gas or electric dryer, but for this demonstration, you'll learn how to connect the gas line if you happen to have a gas dryer. You can skip this step if you have an electric dryer, where installing the dryer requires that you only plug the cord into a special 240-volt wall outlet.
Before working on any dryer, unplug the power cord from the wall and turn off the gas supply.
Watch Now: How to Install a Dryer Vent in a Tight Space
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Adjustable wrench
- Socket driver or flat blade screwdriver (to tighten the band clamp)
- 1 Yellow gas line thread-seal tape with PTFE (for gas dryer)
- 1 HVAC aluminum foil tape
- 1 Offset dryer vent kit
- 2 Adjustable stainless steel band worm-gear hose clamp (4 1/2-inch)
Connect the Gas Line (Gas Dryers Only)
A gas dryer has a special flexible gas line that delivers natural gas from the house gas pipe to the gas inlet fitting on the dryer. The threads of these two components must be wrapped in PTFE plumber's tape. This yellow tape is manufactured especially for natural gas, propane, butane, water, oil, and chemical lines and is heavier than white plumber's tape.
Make sure the gas valve is in the OFF position—the valve handle will be perpendicular to the gas line. Unplug the dryer's power cord from the wall outlet.
Wrap each fitting with yellow PTFE tape, looping around the fitting two or three times in a clockwise direction. Once wrapped, attach one end of the gas line to the dryer inlet fitting and hand tighten. Place the other end of the flexible gas line over the gas supply line and hand tighten it. Using an adjustable wrench, tighten each connection firmly until snug. Do not over-tighten.
Test the gas connection by turning the gas valve to the ON position, so the handle is parallel to the gas line. Check for leaks by brushing a soapy water solution onto the gas connections. If you see any bubbles, the connection is leaking and needs to be tightened. If you still cannot get a good seal without bubbles, call the gas company or a plumber for assistance.
Prepare the Offset Dryer Vent
Where space is limited, an adjustable offset dryer vent is used. It's also called a periscope dryer vent. Offset vents allow the dryer to be installed closer to the wall than a typical basement installation, using a 90-degree, 4-inch duct elbow on the dryer's discharge vent. (Some models allow a 3-inch clearance from the dryer to the wall.) It also allows the dryer to be connected to a fixed vent connection in the wall, since it allows both an offset adjustment and a height adjustment in the vent connection duct.
Measure the offset distance between the center of the dryer discharge vent and the center of the wall vent to which you need to connect.
Purchase the appropriate sized offset dryer vent kit. You should buy the smallest sized kit that will work.
Seal Gaps With Foil Duct Tape
Remove the offset duct from the box, then adjust the two vent connection holes to the correct spacing by sliding the two ends apart or closer together.
Once set to the correct location, affix the ends in place by using HVAC aluminum foil tape to seal the open joints and lock the sliding duct into position. (Do not use standard duct tape, which quickly dries out and fails to seal the joint.) A tight seal is critical because, with a gas dryer, the vent exhausts not only lint and air but also carries deadly carbon monoxide gas to the outdoors.
Connect the Offset Duct to the Wall Vent Duct Connection
Connect the appropriate end of the offset duct (typically the smaller diameter end) to the wall connection duct. There is not much space to work, and you do not want the offset duct falling off once the dryer is being positioned in place. So, attach it with aluminum foil duct tape by placing the offset duct at the approximate angle needed for the final connection to the dryer.
If there is enough material for a good friction fit, you can use a 4 1/2-inch stainless steel band worm-gear hose clamp.
Connect the Offset Duct to the Dryer
Place a 4 1/2-inch stainless steel band worm-gear hose clamp over the dryer's discharge vent.
Move the dryer into position, sliding the offset dryer vent connection over the dryer's discharge vent. Make sure there is a snug fit, then move the band clamp over the duct connectors and tighten, using a screwdriver or socket driver.
Plug the dryer in and turn on the appliance. Check for proper operation and make sure the exhaust ducts remain connected.