What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)


Friday, November 14, 2008

The Dryer Vent Dilimna

If you have been following this blog you will know that we bought this house in 2007 so last winter was our first winter in this home. All of our renovations for this home are reflective of the importance of saving energy. As with the other homes we have owned the first priority was sealing to make the house more energy efficient. In today's economy this is even more important in terms of energy savings but this is not the only reason. It is very important to do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint.

Our laundry room is in between the family room and furnace room on the lower level of the house. Last winter I noticed that our gas dryer was abnormally cold when not in use. Since our dryer was less than a year old and an energy efficient model I knew the problem had to be the dryer vent. The dryer vent is not exactly in a convenient location but once we remove the brush it will be fine. Upon investigation we found an old dryer vent cover that was very brittle with half of the cover missing and the flap barely working. This vent cover obviously needed to be replaced but we wanted to do an energy efficient replacement.

A quick online search showed us that there were energy efficient vent covers on the market. We opted for the Broan® EcoVent because of its design and the fact that it was Canadian made. Our winters are cold so we felt that a Canadian company understood the problem that normal vent covers tend to be drafty. At the same time while some are designed to keep rodents and larger insects out, smaller insects can still get in.

Pictured is the Broan® EcoVent as compared to a normal dryer vent cover (1, 2, 3). The first thing you will notice is the size. The EcoVent is larger because it is insulated and the plastic is heavier! That means there is a lowered conduction of cold air from the vent cover to the duct. The second thing you will notice is the ball (1, 3). The floating ball check valve creates an airtight seal with no back draft. When the dryer is turned on the exhausting air will cause the ball to float up, opening the vent so the air can exhaust outdoors. When the dryer is finished exhausting the ball will fall back into its resting position preventing air leakage. Unlike other vent covers the Broan® EcoVent is noiseless even in strong winds so you won't hear any flapping either. We also opted to change out the existing vent pipe for a thicker walled one (4) meant to go with the Broan® EcoVent but this was optional.

The first step for preparation was removing the remaining vent cover and the existing vent pipe. This was actually a bit more work than anticipated. We used a large flat head screw driver to bend the pipe on the outside and on the inside then tapped it out. We were left with a clean opening outside and inside.

After the old vent cover and vent pipe were removed we cleaned up the old caulk from the outside wall. Inside there was very little clean-up but you may find a bit more clean-up if you decide to do this project. There should be no caulk on the inside wall around the vent exit. The reason for this is practical both in terms of access and redecorating. Instead the vent cover should be properly caulked on the outside making it airtight.

Our installation was on an existing concrete wall just above grade. Now ideally with our snowfall this is not the best location however, this is in a very protected location that has very little snow accumulation. In locations where snowfall could be a problem the dryer vent should be located at least 3 feet above ground level. My husband drilled pilot holes in the concrete (5). The vent pipe was put into the vent cover, secured with self tapping screws and then sealed with caulk. Then a heavy bead of concrete caulk was placed around the inside perimeter of the vent cover (6). The vent cover was attached to the vent opening using concrete anchors (7).

The installation resulted in a clean and neat outside appearance. In our location it really wouldn't have mattered what the installation looked like but really if you are going to do it, do it right. Make it look neat and tidy even if you are the only one who will ever see it. On a scale of 1 to 10 this project would rate a 10 as far as easy installation for anyone with the proper tools. In respect to energy savings this project would rate a 9 or a 10 depending on the location.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2008


14 comments:

Francesco in Montreal said...

I'm on my second EcoEvent; the first having warped to the point that the ball no longer moved. I modified the second one to snip off the critter-grate, and slipped in a square of 1/2" mesh. It is removable, so now I can clean out the sticky lint before it becomes a problem and causes this one to warp and disintegrate, too.

Anonymous said...

I've had an Ecovent in use for about 2-3 years now and it works just great. This is the first vent that hasn't let the cold air back into my house.

Highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Hi I live in the US. Here in Connecticut or anywhere else for that matter I cannot find the Ecovent dryer vent except on Canada websites.
Can I but the vent here in the states?

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous. The Broan EcoVent is made and distributed in Canada. I am not sure if it is distributed outside of Canada. I know Home Depot in Canada carries it so that might be your best chance in the US. Ask for Broan EV100. They may even be able to order it for you. VentingDirect a company in California might also have it. Here's the link to contact them. If neither of these work out you could order online from a Canadian website that will ship to the US. The vents cost about $20 and you would be paying shipping which shouldn't be much as they aren't heavy. I doubt there would be any charges at the border either but you might want to check. Even if you have to spend a bit extra to get this vent cover you will definitely make up for it in energy savings the first winter. Good luck and let me know if you were able to find it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering. My name is Richard.I'm from Connecticut. I cannot buy from Home Depot Canada.In store sales only.
I found it on EBay Canada for $33.00 plus whatever shipping will be.
I'll let you know how I make out.
Thanks
Richard

Anonymous said...

It's me Richard from CT. Well it looks to be the only way for me to get the EV100 dryer vent is to buy it on Canadian Ebay. for $32.00 dollars and $20.00 dollar shipping.
That is what I will do. I don't expect to see a return on the money but if it lasts maybe 10 years I"ll be happy.
I even e-mailed Broan and got a response saying that it is not available in the States.
I hope this can help someone.
Thanks
Richard

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Richard :) Sorry to hear you had to pay so much. In terms of return I still think that even at $52 CDN you will recoup your cost of about $45 US. It's built to last so you will get a good number of years while saving the additional cost of heating to compensate for the draft of a regular vent. The cost of heating certainly isn't going to be decreasing. A normal vent cover can easily get 10 years' service but this one will likely last that again as long as it isn't accidently hit. Just be sure to caulk it well when you install and caulk around the connection where the vent goes through the outer wall. I hope you enjoy the vent cover. We now have two and love them!

Anonymous said...

This one is available in the USA and is of the same idea as the broan.
http://www.batticdoor.com/ClothesDryerVentSeal.htm

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting. Thanks for the link for a similar yet very different vent available in the US. This vent cover solves the problem of cold air entering however does not solve the problem of thermal transfer like the Braun EcoVent does. It definitely does not have the extra insulation necessary for vents in Canadian winters however it may be a viable alternative to those living in the northern US states.

Anonymous said...

That is true, it isnt insulated like the broan but for warmer climates it looks better than the flapper type.

I'm in western Canada and was almost tempted to order one of these until I saw the Broan at Home Depot. For $20 Canadian $$, it's also less costly. I'm a bit concerned about it working properly in the winter, when temps here can go as low as -40. If you've never felt -40, it's an experience to say the least. As you can guess, things often refuse to move at that extreme cold.

I provided the link for those who cant get the Broan in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Hello, It's me Richard.
My Ecovent came in today.To say the least,I'm very satisfied. I didn't really know what to expect but I had high hopes. Well I'm very pleased. All the Styrofoam insulation was what I did not know about. Best vent I've ever seen.

I checked the link that anonymous has supplied and I have seen that and was not impressed with that type of vent when I had it in my own hands. But it was better than the flap type like I have and all the other ones I have seen. If the Broan didn't come through that would have been my next choice.

But I decided to go for it and buy it from a business in Nova Scotia on Ebay. I hope to get it installed before the cold rain this coming weekend.
Everyone have a good day.
Thanks
Richard

Anonymous said...

Hi. I want to buy the Ecovent but the vent pipe opening through my brick is 4" wide. Is there one that will fit? I don't want to enlarge the size. Thanks

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting. The EcoVent fits the standard 4 - inch pipe.

Anonymous said...

I just install my ecovent , but after intall it outside , i seen than the both end of the pipe are crimped , why the built it this way , if i continue the air pipe this way, the joint will be on oposite way than the air flow and the lint will stuck in the joint, .......im wonder how did you install it , because all the other vent i seen dont have a crimped on the end
Simon