DEAR BARRY: Our home is 3 years old, custom-built, and has always had a laundry problem. The clothes in the dryer never become completely dry, no matter how long we run the dryer.
Recently, while cleaning behind the dryer, the vent hose accidentally came loose from the wall. Well, surprise! The next load of clothes dried in record time! It turned out the vent was clogged with lint because it was made of PVC plastic, rather than metal.
Apparently, the builder goofed, the building inspector didn’t notice the problem, and now there’s no simple way to install a new duct. If we let the dryer exhaust blow into the house, we get drippy windows and lint on everything. Some stores sell special vent buckets for venting dryers indoors. Are these buckets OK? –Jamie
DEAR JAMIE: Dryer vent buckets, commonly sold in hardware stores, do not comply with building code requirements because exterior venting of the exhaust is mandatory. But one of these buckets may provide an interim solution until the dryer problem is solved permanently. In the meantime, the builder may still be liable for this construction defect, depending upon the contractor liability laws in your state.
The fact that the building inspector approved this installation at the time of construction does not get the builder off the hook. When building inspectors miss conditions that violate construction codes, the oversight does not render those conditions legal.
According to the mechanical code, dryer vent ducts must be made of metal. PVC ducts take longer to become warm when the dryer is being used. This causes steam to condense inside the duct, and moisture in the duct collects lint. Continued buildup of lint restricts the air flow inside the duct, preventing your clothes from becoming dry. But you may have an additional problem.
The dryer issue, you say, has been apparent since the home was brand-new, before there could have been lint in the duct. This means there may be an additional restriction in the line.
The builder should be contacted immediately regarding the faulty installation. Request that the condition be reviewed and corrected. Hopefully, the builder is willing to stand behind his work.
DEAR BARRY: Our bathroom skylight became dislodged and began sliding down the roof slope. It appears that it was not fastened to the roof, but was merely held in place with tar and the weight of surrounding shingles. Some guidelines for making this repair would be appreciated. Should the shingles be removed before reinstalling the skylight, and what kind of fasteners do you recommend? –Dan
DEAR DAN: The methods for this kind of repair cannot be made without inspecting the situation in question. Your best bet is to have the skylight reinstalled by a qualified professional: a licensed roofing contractor or a general building contractor. This will ensure a more reliable repair and decrease the likelihood of future leakage. The installation should also meet with specifications set forth by the manufacturer of the skylight. If the manufacturer’s name and model number are on the skylight, you can probably get a copy of the installation manual online.