Article corrected by home inspector
Q: I receive your articles in my email and find them both interesting and informative. I do however have a question regarding a recent one. The question was about possible condensation in a dryer vent duct, a problem we home inspectors often see.
You suggested upgrading to a PVC vent pipe with glued joints. I have read that PVC is not recommended and even prohibited in many areas for dryer vents because of its low tolerance for heat and its ability to build up a static electric charge from lint.
We typically report this as a safety issue in our inspection reports. What are your thoughts?
A: Thank you for the "heads-up" regarding my recent PVC dryer duct recommendation. You are absolutely correct. My advice in that column was inaccurate and warrants immediate clarification.
The question in that article was from a homeowner whose clothes dryer vent duct was causing moisture condensation to drip from the ceiling. My intent in answering that question was to recommend a vent duct with sealed fittings to prevent leakage. That consideration, however, was of secondary import to the fire hazard you have pointed out.
Upon review of the original question, the problem was not that the duct fittings enabled leakage, but rather that condensation was occurring at all. A possible reason for the condensation may have been that the clothes dryer vent duct was too long, allowing the duct to remain cool, which would promote condensation.
If that were the case, the a better solution would be to find a shorter route from the dryer to the exterior of the building, or to install an assist blower in the duct line to accelerate the rate of flow to the exterior.
Thank you again for pointing out this discrepancy.
Q: The home we're buying has an old brick fireplace that is set up with cement logs and a gas burner. We'd like to burn wood logs instead, to get some heat in the house and to get the feel and smell of a traditional fireplace. We're wondering what problems this might entail. What is your advice?
A: The crackle of a traditional log fire may provide romantic ambience, but contrary to common belief, a masonry fireplace provides very little heat to the interior. If you stand near a wood-burning fireplace, you will enjoy the warmth of radiant heat, but while this is happening, the warm air within your home is being drawn up the chimney, along with the smoke.
If you wish to heat your home by burning wood, the best approach is to install a fireplace insert. An insert is basically a wood-burning stove that is designed to fit into the combustion chamber of a fireplace.
To determine which insert model will fit your fireplace and provide the greatest amount of heat per volume of wood, consult a certified chimney sweep.
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