What Were They Thinking?

March 09, 2009
March/April 2009
A version of this article appears in the March/April 2009 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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While conducting an informal energy audit, I saw this installation in the basement of a home occupied by several young adults in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They needed a clothes dryer, so they installed one. They didn't realize that it was hot, humid air that comes out of a dryer, and not water. This situation has been in place for at least a year, and one of the occupants has indicated that at times there is moisture and slime on the basement walls.

There was no water in the bucket to act as a trap. All that was being collected in the bucket was lint.

The cold winters in Michigan, resulting in cold basement walls, no doubt cause the water to condense on the walls near the dryer. There are between eight and ten people living here. That probably means the dryer is frequently used.

While helping this group to get the dryer exhaust hooked up, I noticed they also had a dehumidifier in the basement not far from the clothes dryer.

The group used a three-step process to dry their clothes:
  1. Take the moisture from the clothes and put it into the basement air with the dryer.
  2. Take the moisture out of the air with the dehumidifier.
  3. Dump the water from the dehumidifier into the sink. The process is apparently effective—except for the combustion products from the natural gas dryer—but not very efficient.

The infiltration for the home was determined to be 19 ACH50. The amount of natural ventilation most likely reduced the potential for a significant health hazard from condensation and combustion products. One benefit from an old leaky home.

—Bob Kildea
Home Energy Insight, LLC
Kalamazoo, Michigan

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