If you have a gas or electric clothes dryer in your home, a dryer vent that allows excess moisture to escape as steam is vital for its efficient operation — and, more importantly, your safety. The duct connecting the back of your dryer to the vent also allows excess lint not collected by the lint trap to escape, drastically lowering the risk of home fires that can occur when lint gets hot enough to spark and ignite.
Michael Sera, owner of Mike's Handyman/HVAC Services in Cleveland, Ohio, says any home that’s ever been inspected by a building or home inspector should have a vented dryer. Installation of a new dryer vent, including the duct, will cost more than replacing or repairing an existing duct and vent. Several factors affect the cost of installing, replacing or repairing a dryer vent.
Costs for installing a new vent and duct can range from $150 to $500. Installation will cost more if the contractor needs to punch a hole in the exterior wall of the home, if the wall to be cut into is made of concrete or brick, or if the home is connected to other houses.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends that ducts "shall be constructed of minimum 0.016-inch-thick (0.4 mm) rigid metal ducts, having smooth interior surfaces, with joints running in the direction of air flow." The association also advises that the duct connecting the dryer to the vent should not be longer than 25 feet, less if the duct must bend more than 45 degrees at any point.
Replacement or repair
Replacing the duct may be necessary if the duct gets damaged or bent to the point where it does not work properly, or if the duct is irreparably blocked by years of lint buildup without regular cleaning. Replacement will cost more if the ducting or vent is hidden behind walls. Ed Mack, owner of Air Duct Professionals in Lake Elsinore, California, charges $150-$300 to replace an existing dryer duct.
Sera says that the vent itself — which covers the hole in the side of the building to which the duct is connected, directs the air out and down, and captures any lint or other particles that may make their way through the duct — should not be made of vinyl. He recently replaced a customer’s old vinyl vent with a proper metal unit for $115. He adds that connecting multiple pieces of ducting with the correct material is also crucial: Foil tape — not duct tape — is the industry standard because it can withstand temperatures up to 800 degrees.
Gas vs. electric
It may cost more to add or replace a duct or vent for a gas dryer, Sera says. Even if the service technician or contractor does not touch the gas valve, they require special training and must follow specific regulations.
Building code requirements
Local building codes govern how dryer vents are installed. If you are remodeling a home and the project involves adding a new laundry room, the dryer vent will be part of what the building inspector will look at when he inspects your project to ensure code compliance. Noncompliance may add to your cost if any of the work has to be changed or redone.