Q: The design of the dryer vent in our home is very bad, and appears to have been something the builder did just to get the house on the market. It vents up to the roof, over 30 feet, and as a result the performance of our dryer has suffered.

I can’t vent to an outside wall, but the garage is right behind the laundry room so I vented the dryer there. I purchased a venting system with a water container at the end, and so far it seems to be working fine, with no lint buildup that I have seen.  We are in our 60s and don’t use the dryer very often, and I wanted your advice on what you thought. –Carl F.

A: There are two reasons that a dryer needs to vent to the outside of a building. One is to remove lint from the system, which should never be allowed to build up in the dryer or in an attic or crawlspace. Lint seems pretty harmless, and many people do not realize just how highly flammable and dangerous a buildup can be. 

The second is that the moisture that is being removed from the clothes needs somewhere to go. As with the moisture being removed by a bath fan or a kitchen exhaust, if it’s allowed to vent into the attic or crawlspace it can create mold as well as potential structural damage.

I understand your frustration, because many builders don’t seem to take dryer venting as seriously as they should either. It sounds like you put a lot of thought into trying to make a bad situation better, and what you’ve come up with will be okay temporarily until you come up with a permanent solution. However, the building codes require that a dryer be vented all the way to the outside of the house, and since your solution doesn’t meet the code requirements – and, more importantly, is still potentially dangerous – I’m afraid I really can’t endorse it.

The problem is that lint mixed with moisture – either from the dryer or from the water bucket – will adhere to just about anything, including the inside of the dryer hose and the dryer itself. It can build up, dry out, and become a serious fire danger. So even though you’re not seeing lint, the danger is still very much there.

My best suggestion at this point would be to contact a heating and air conditioning contractor and have them come out and take a look. They should be able to help you with a solution that is both safe and meets the building code requirements. 

Q: What products are out there that can be used to repair cracks in a concrete driveway without being too obvious? -Gary K.

A: Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. All of the concrete repair products I’m aware of fall into two basic categories – caulk-type materials that come in a caulking tube for injection into the cracks, and cement-type materials that are sold in bags and are mixed with water for larger repairs. Because concrete ages and changes color, any of these materials will likely be a different color than your existing concrete, and therefore will be visible to some degree.

However, you certainly don’t want to ignore the cracks, because they’ll just get worse. I would suggest that you visit a local retailer or wholesaler that sells concrete products, and look over their selection of caulk-type concrete sealants. There are different colors available, so just select the closest one, then follow the package directions for correct application.

There are also concrete surface coatings that can be applied over the entire driveway and are therefore not noticeable, but in my experience the results and durability of these surfaces are not always the greatest. Re-coatings of this type are best left to the pros, and be sure and see some examples of their work and ask exactly what type of warranty comes with the application.

Q: What products do you recommend to clean paint drippings off a garage floor? -Larry M.

A: Probably the easiest thing to do is simply scrape them off with a stiff putty knife – they typically come up fairly easily. If they are latex paint, you might also try a product called Goof-Off, which is available wherever paint is sold.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paul2887@direcway.com.

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