The last flood & why my laundry room is getting a makeover

As I’ve mentioned previously, the laundry room is getting a makeover!

I’ve already taken down an annoying coat shelf and moved it to the closet under the stairs.

Before I can begin the great laundry room makeover of twenty-twelve though, I have to fix an extremely irritating problem.

Okay, so here’s the deal. Whenever it rains cats and dogs (Texas is notorious for flash flooding) the vent on our roof that vents our dryer leaks. Water gets inside the roof vent, then flows through the vent pipe directly into the laundry room.

Here we are on the roof sitting next to the leaky dryer vent.

After every heavy rain storm, I have to pull the dryer out, unhook the dryer vent hose, wipe up the huge puddle of water, and then wait for everything to dry out.

Not my idea of a good time. Srsly a huge pain in the patootie if you know what I mean.

After a year and a half of this nonsense, I’d finally had enough. Now, I’m no roofer and I have no clue how to even attack this problem, but darn it, I’m gonna try.

I headed to Home Depot in search of some type of caulk that I can use on shingles and a roof. They had just what I needed:
DAP Watertight Roof Sealant.

This stuff is the most disgusting stuff I’ve ever used. It’s basically tar in a caulking container. And it was so gross I’m getting the heebie geebies just thinking about it again. But at $3.97, it was way cheaper than hiring a roofer.

We climbed on the roof and assessed the vent situation. To our horror we discovered the vent was packed to the gills with wet dryer lint.

So we began digging it out.

Now I’m no rocket scientist, but let me put this in perspective. The laundry room is on the first floor of the house:

HoH_master_floorplan_1st_floor_utility

The vent runs from the laundry room up 9 feet of wall, makes a 90 degree turn and runs horizontal above the laundry room ceiling another 6 feet into the attic, then makes a 45 degree turn vertically towards the roof where it vents out.

So, we have gobs of dryer lint approximately 20 feet from the dryer. This can only mean one thing: the entire dryer vent pipe (all 20 feet of it) is probably packed with dryer lint. Wonderful.

I’ll get back to this point in a minute. But for now lets deal with this leak.

Before I began caulking I peeled up some shingles to reveal the flashing on the vent (flashing is the metal edging used on a roof or the metal edge around the dryer vent).

From there I took the disgusting DAP roofing tar and started caulking around the vent. I never could find an actual hole or leak, so we pretty much just caulked the entire vent and the flashing around the vent.

You can tell I’m super excited to be dealing with this irritating problem.

The kids loved helping out.

And playing air guitar.

My son T loves helping me DIY stuff, so I taught him how to use a caulking gun.

When I say this roof caulk is gross, I mean it is absolutely the most disgusting stuff I’ve ever used. I had to smear it around with my finger, and it took a week to finally wash off!

I figured I had a whole tube of this gross stuff so we just caulked until we ran out of caulk.

And here’s our oh-so-pretty “after” photo.

This is pretty much the ugliest caulking job I have ever done. That roof tar crap was so disgusting I had a hard time even smearing it around. It’s on the roof though, so I really don’t care if it’s “ugly” looking.

Now that the caulking is done and drying, it was time to move on to Phase 2 of this dryer vent debacle.

Cleaning out the dryer lint.

Remember how I found all that lint in the vent on the roof? Well, if there’s that much lint at the exit point, then there’s probably even more inside all 20 feet of dryer pipe inside the walls.

I started by cleaning out the dryer lint in the laundry room. I found this 8 foot long dryer lint cleaner for twenty bucks at Home Depot:

It was like magic. Worth every penny. Except it claimed you could attach it to your drill, but didn’t give an attachment bit or any directions for attaching, so I ended up not using the drill.

To use this dryer duct cleaning kit, attach all the sections together then shove the brush up into the vent. Very easy.

Gobs and gobs of lint came out. I’ve only lived here a year and a half, but the house was 6 years old when we bought it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think the previous owners never once cleaned their vent and probably never had a filter inside their dryer.

This is only half the lint that came out! I remembered to take a picture after I threw half of it away.

I still needed to clean out the section in the attic though. My dryer vent cleaning kit only went 8 feet and my pipe was about 20 feet, so I had to tackle it from the other end as well.

The dryer pipe comes out of the wall into the attic then attaches to the roof dryer vent. At this point I’ve already unattached the pipe from the roof vent.

And then I unattached the vent pipe from where it comes out of the wall.

Massive amounts of lint poured out of the pipe once I unattached it.

I had Ben take the attic vent pipe and clean it out. Even more lint.

By this point I was seriously hyperventilating. We had a kitchen sized garbage bag more than half full of dryer lint. Do you even realize how much of a fire hazard this is???

I can’t believe I had been using a completely clogged dryer vent for a year and a half. I believe if it hadn’t been for the leak on the roof causing water to flow inside the dryer pipe and keep the dryer lint WET, a fire probably would have broken out inside those pipes.

Scary stuff.

Once the pipes were all cleaned out and the roof caulk was dry, Ben took the water hose onto the roof and simulated a fierce rain storm directly onto the dryer vent.

I stood in the attic with a bucket ready to catch any water that might leak in.

After a good 20 minutes of spraying the heck out of that dryer vent on the roof, we could not get it to leak!
Woo to the hooo!

Finally, after a year and a half of leaking in the laundry room, I think we have fixed the issue. Eventually we will have a new roof put on, at which time we will replace all these old worn out vents on the roof, but until then, this will have to work.

Once we were sure the vent wasn’t going to leak anymore it was time to reattach the pipe in the attic. I bought some foil tape to reattach it.

This foil tape is so cool! It’s literally a strip of foil with sticky on one side. I am already trying to think of fun crafty projects I can do with this stuff!

So now it’s time to give this space a makeover! It was looking like this before the flooding and before I moved the shelf to the closet:

But not anymore! The washer and dryer are actually getting moved by the window and I’m going to build a locker-type bench with hooks for coats and backpacks where the washer and dryer use to be.

This room’s current layout is absolutely horrible. My goal is to make is a billion times more efficient. And of course I am excited to make it a whole lot prettier too.

* I am not a roofer. I may or may not have fixed this problem the correct way. Please use caution when tackling your own home repairs. I’m not liable or responsible for any damages that may incur when you attempt to resolve a similar issue.*

Read an update to this post here!

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Comments

  1. You are going to find that your dryer works a million times better now! A lot of times people will buy a new dryer because the old one won’t dry anymore, but in reality it’s the vent being full of lint that traps moisture that causes the problem.

    Also, disconnecting the dryer from the vent once a year or so and shoving a leaf blower into the vent will blow it all out the roof vent, helping to keep it clear. It probably wouldn’t have worked with wet lint since you had a leak, but it works like a charm at keeping it clean when it’s dry!

  2. WOW!!! What a project! Kudos to the max for fixing the roof leak and getting rid of all that lint! The most serious issue would be the fire risk… imagine how many other people might have the same hidden problem! I’m also guessing you might find that your clothes dry a LOT faster and you’ll save on your utility bills as well! Good for you!

  3. Thanks for the great post, Allison! I can’t imagine dealing with a mini-flood after every big rain storm. About two weeks ago I used a similar kit to try to get some of the lint out of our dryer duct from the outside and even though I know there’s more (and from the looks of it, A LOT more!), the dryer already works SO much better than it did before. Our dryer vents to the outside wall and it’s not far from the actual dryer, but it was still packed solid. My city just switched to Time of Use billing rates for Hydro so 1.5 hours to dry towels just wasn’t acceptable! I’m hopeful that your garbage bag full of lint will encourage my husband to help me fix the problem properly.

  4. Holy cow, girl! That’s bananas!! Good thing you found all that lint when you did! And tight work stopping that pesky leak! I can’t believe you dealt with it for that long!! **Note to Self :: If roof ever leaks….use nasty Dap tar stuff to stop it!** Got it! xoxo

  5. Tell Ben I said “Nice job taking pictures of Allison doing all the work;” Ha, ha…that’s funny! You guys are a crack up! Seriously, I need to go clean my dryer vent!

    Becky B.
    http://www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

  6. Wow, I’m tired from just reading that. Talk about a huge project! So glad you got it fixed…that IS (or was) a fire hazard! Extra props for letting the kids participate and wearing flip flops on the roof, haha. I can’t wait to see your new laundry room.

    Have a great week,
    Shasta

  7. Allison,

    Your remodel of the laundry room – are you going to stack the washer and dryer? And where exactly are you going to put them by the window. I worked in a facility that tried to reform young men in trouble with the law and the dryer vents in the cottages were awful. When it took over an hour to dry towels then I knew to call maintainance to come and clean them. Maintainance what a great luxury to have. Haaaa.

    Maureen

  8. Oh god, you are giving me a heart attack, I so want to clean my dryer vents now.

  9. Danielle Higginbottom-Brown says:

    Besides being totally awesome, you rocked roofing in flip flops!!!!

  10. That is a LOT of dryer lint! I can’t believe what a long vent pipe you have, especially with all those angles, no wonder it clogs up that badly and traps moisture. I wouldn’t think the force of the air coming from the dryer would be strong enough to keep the vent clear.

    I’m a little confused, though. If you’re moving the washer & dryer, won’t you have to move the vent also? I wonder if you could vent it out the wall by the window, if that’s where you’re moving the dryer- it would be a short run, and SO much easier to maintain. Ours goes out the wall and has a filter on the end that we have to clean about once a month, takes about 2 minutes.

  11. Holy lint!!! That’s scary…..but so glad you discovered it before it got really bad.

    P.S. I LOVE the fact that you have a piano room in your home. That’s pretty much my dream.

  12. WoW! I’ve got to check my dryer lint now. How did you keep the kids on the roof without them jumping off? Or pushing each other off (well – that is what my kids would do). Can’t wait to see the remodel pics.

  13. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says:

    I kept reading and reading…….and I’m thinking……….
    Does she not know what a FIRE HAZARD this is???? OMG! Seriously!!!!! A horrible fire hazard.
    Then……looking at the photos…….and I’m thinkin……..what the heck is she doing on the roof in FREAKING FLIP FLOPS!!!!!!!!!!
    You worry me, girl………………………lol

  14. Thanks for the tutorial. I’m exhausted now. πŸ™‚ I need to clean my vent, too. But I’m not going to be like the others and laugh at the flip-flops on the roof. There is all sorts of wrong safety wise with letting your kids on the roof and also for being in flip flops. What if you had fallen? Or worse, what if the kids had fallen? Please promise you’ll never do that again! I’m not kidding. I don’t even know you but that’s seriously dangerous stuff.

  15. Your family is very fortunate to have such and industrious woman like you. Keep up the good work.

  16. OK…I LOVE your blog and I don’t think I have EVER commented but girl YOU ROCK! You inspire me to try ANYTHING! And thanks heavens you cleaned that out before a FIRE did start!! Yay!!! πŸ™‚

  17. I’m right there with you for leaks. We have a leaky door in our walkout basement and have been turning a blind eye for about 2 years. Finally hubby and I sprayed water on the house to determine where the water is leaking in. Maybe that’s why our water bill was high last month?

    We tore out the baseboards and some drywall only to find BLACK MOLD! We’re in the process of re-doing our basement now.

    Check out what I did a few years ago here: http://everythinghasitswonders.blogspot.com/2010/07/our-basement-painting.html

    Isn’t it fun solving problems only to find more? Yikes!

    And now I need to go clean my dryer vent.

  18. Wow- that is a lot of lint…has be wondering what is hiding in my dryer vent too! Thanks for the fire safety reminder, I am sure we all could use a reminder to clean the vents. I’ve lived here 5 years and never thought to do so. Guess what is now added to my “things to do” list! Thanks for sharing.

  19. omgee I’m so glad you found it all before a fire! wow

  20. This is SUCH a worthwhile effort. I can’t believe how long your dryer vent is!! Is your laundry room an interior room? Because otherwise, it should just vent out the wall and to the side of the house, not against gravity and shooting up. Ours vents our through our garage, and to the backyard. Such a short length to clean.

  21. Thank you for all the photos, and direction for this~ I’ll look into our dryer vent, too.

    BUT….. FlipFlops on the Roof?!?! Not safe. Next time put on some tennies. πŸ™‚

  22. Inquiring minds want to know if you are going to make something out of the dryer lint?

    ~Bliss~

  23. Maybe next time you could try using that orange soap mechanics use to get grease off their hands? That stuff does amazing things.

  24. Wow! That’s a huge project! I’m so glad you were able to fix the leak. AFter all that work, I’d have been very mad if it still leaked.:)

  25. Ana Fantilanan says:

    What a great fix! My husband and I do some DIYs too. But sometimes we dont get it right.

  26. Great job on the clean out. But just to let you know the dryers transition hose is always full of water because
    when you dry a load of clothes, close to gallon of water is turned to steam and when its unable to exit the roof exhaust (due to a clogged vent) the steam condensates in to a puddle of water. So gooseneck flashing on your roof is actually not leaking into the vent. Also the vent brush you bought doesn’t require a bit. you just have to stick the rod in the drill and tighten it down. Hope this helps.

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  1. […] laundry room and I go way back. We’ve been through so much together: floods, venting issues, stacking and unstacking the washer and […]

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