A leaking dryer is never good news. Apart from the safety risk of a slippery floor, it can often leave us wondering if something irreparable has gone wrong and we need to buy a new appliance. But the truth is that the situation isn’t always as grim as it may seem. In fact, fixing dryer leaks can often be very simple once you know the cause of the issue.
This post will provide you with the most common causes of dryer leaks, and it will teach you how to remedy them and even prevent any recurrences.
Dryers leak if the ducts are uninsulated, bend too often, or are the wrong material. Clogged exhaust systems, full or cracked condenser tanks, leaky water supply or drainage pipes, and broken dampers also cause leaks. Maintenance and minor part replacement solve most leaks. Ducts may need to be replaced.
Dryer Ducts Are Not Insulated
Duct insulation might seem like the last thing that could influence dryer leaks. After all, how is something that wraps around the ducts in the wall or ceiling affect the puddle of water underneath your machine?
Well, dryers exhaust hot, humid air that then travels through the ducting and is ultimately vented outside (which is a code requirement). Now, if the ducts are not insulated, it means that the hot dryer air is exposed to some drastic temperature changes caused by the cold air around the ducts.
This especially applies if you live in a cold climate, your dryer is located in a cold basement, or the ducting goes through an uninsulated crawlspace that tends to be a bit colder. The conditions naturally get even worse in winter.
The cold temperature will cause the moisture inside the ducts to condense (cold air can hold much less water than warm air). The more you use the dryer, the quicker the moisture will be able to build up.
Subsequently, it can leak back to your home through the ducts, where it has the potential to create a number of problems. The most frequent ones include causing mold and mildew growth or completely corroding the dryer vent, which will in turn leak even more humid warm air into the room.
The solution couldn’t be more simple. Make sure that your dryer ducts are properly insulated, even more so if they go through a basement or a crawl space.
If you have access to your ducts, you can insulate them using dryer duct insulation (amazon link) and aluminum foil tape (amazon link).
Exhaust System Is Clogged
You have probably heard how important it is to keep the exhaust system of a dryer clean. But let’s be honest, how many of us actually take the time to clean it regularly? Well, it turns out that this, in our eyes, minor neglection could cause some serious problems down the line.
Clogged ventilation is one of the most common causes of a leaking dryer. If the hot, humid air can’t escape the dryer, the air condenses inside the appliance, meaning your dryer will contain water.
A good way to address this problem is to clean the whole dryer, including the lint filter inside the drum and the one that might be connected to your vent hose, as well as the ductwork and termination vent.
This step is vital since exhaust system blockages are typically created when a build-up of lint that turns into clumps due to the amount of moisture in the air. The next important step is to verify that the vent hose itself is not damaged, bent, or twisted.
To clean the ducts, you have to detach the hose from the dryer. You can use a dryer vent cleaner kit (amazon link) and then finish off by taking a clean rag and wiping both the dryer and the ducts to absorb and remove as much moisture as you possibly can.
Now, there is only so much you can do with a home dryer vent cleaning kit and so I would recommend getting a professional in to do a thorough clean out every now and then.
Condenser Collection Tank Full
Condenser dryers are a unique type of dryer that, instead of venting moisture to the outside, condense it into the water and collect it in a water collector.
As you can imagine, this type of dryer provides many advantages, specifically for people that struggle with space or outside vent access.
However, one of the main downsides of any condenser dryer is the need to regularly empty its water collection tank. If you don’t do that, you are risking a huge mess around the dryer or humidity and mildew issues.
Not only that, if this happens regularly and it often goes unnoticed for several hours, it could eventually lead to floor water damage.
The solution to this problem seems obvious. Ensure that you empty the water collector after each drying cycle. But what if I told you that there is a way to once and for all eliminate the need to empty the water collection tank?
Most condensers can be connected to drain pipes and drained through them. Although your manual should include instructions on how to do this, here is a short video to give you a better idea.
Look into your manual to see whether that is an option for you. If you have a model that can’t be connected to drain pipes, take advantage of some of these clever water-saving ways to use the collected dryer water.
Water Collection Tank Cracked
It might be that you responsibly empty your water collector after each drying cycle, and yet it still ends up leaking. Only this time, it’s not because the tank is overfilled but because it is cracked, and you are not the one to blame (unless you dropped it on the floor!).
Condenser water collectors are usually made of plastic, so it is possible that all the stress from constant temperature changes will eventually cause them to split. Plus, a component that is getting handled as often as the collection tank is bound to show a little wear and tear over time.
If you notice the tank is leaking even when it’s only half full, inspect it for any splits and cracks or test whether it’s actually leaking over a dry towel or over a sink.
In case you discover the tank is damaged, you need to replace it. Make sure to look up the dryer’s model number and contact the manufacturer or visit their website to find a new collector tank that will fit your condenser.
Water Drainage Pipe Is Leaking
On one side, the owners of condensers and heat pump dryers that opted to connect their appliances to a drain pipe don’t have any hassle with the water collection tanks. But at the same time, draining the water through a hose is also not a completely “leakproof” idea.
Inspecting your dryer’s drain hose is one crucial step that you should not skip when trying to get to the bottom of why your dryer started leaking water.
Make sure the hose is securely attached and that it is not kinked or damaged. Also, check for loops and blockages in any place. Otherwise, all the water drained from the dryer will end up on the floor.
Your primary focus should be to ensure that the hose is not loosely attached. Straighten any kinks and attempt to get rid of any loops that you can see.
After that’s done, you can move to visual inspection, where you will look for any cracks or abrasions. If the hose seems damaged, it is best to replace it.
The quickest way to check the hose for blockages is to simply detach it from the dryer, pour water into it, and see how fast it drains. If the water seems to be going through the hose for a suspiciously long time, it is recommended to use a pipe snake (amazon link) to remove any clogs.
Too Many Kinks/Bends in the Ductwork
The ductwork should not have many bends. In fact, to ensure its maximum effectiveness and protection from condensation, the ducting should be as straight and as horizontal as possible.
A high number of bends in the ductwork will only make it more difficult for the moisture to escape outside. Because of this, building codes state that each additional elbow reduces the maximum allowable venting distance by a specific amount. The water collecting in the bends can then drip back out through the vents and pool around the dryer.
Plus, it will also increase the chance of lint build-up that can create blockages, and we know that a blocked venting system usually ends with increased condensation and water leaks.
Wrong Duct Material Used
When installing your ductwork be mindful of what is the quickest and the most straightforward way for the ducting to vent the dryer outside. This might even be through the soffit.
Of course, you should also try to avoid creating many turns in the ducting, install it in a horizontal direction and keep it from kinking. This task will become much easier if you use proper duct material.
Speaking of materials that are adequate for ducts, there is one important thing to note–dryer ducts should never be made from ribbed ducting, like foil ducts, or plastic, like PVC or ABS. These materials present various dangers.
The plastic duct is not designed to withstand high temperatures the air coming out of the dryer, and so it automatically becomes a fire hazard.
Ribbed ducting, on the other hand, provides a perfect opportunity for lint and moisture to accumulate in its ribs and eventually cause blockages and condensation issues.
The dryer’s ducting shouldn’t be flexible either, as this type of material could create unnecessary kinks and bends.
The solution to this problem is very straightforward, although it can be a costly endeavor because you need to replace your whole duct system with rigid metal piping (the connectors can be flexible).
This type of material is ideal for dryer ducts due to its ability to handle high temperatures and its smoothness, which makes it more difficult for lint particles to build up inside it.
Damper Is Faulty
Every dryer vent should have an installed backdraft damper that allows the exhausted air to escape outside while also stopping the outside air, any particles such as leaves, or even small animals from entering the ducting and getting inside the house.
However, the damper can sometimes get stuck, whether that is due to the combination of moisture lint, dust, or even grease present in the ducts, damage made by animals, or harsh weather conditions.
If the damper gets stuck closed, it doesn’t allow any moisture to escape the ducts. This leads to condensation inside the ducting. Once there is water in the ducts, it can leak back into the room.
You should also test whether the damper blades can fully open or close in one smooth movement. You can lubricate moving parts if necessary but only use a lubricant that was approved by the damper’s manufacturer.
If you would like more details and tips on how to care for your vent damper, check out our ultimate backdraft damper guide.
On the other hand, if the damper fails to close and is permanently open instead, there is a free path for rain or snow to enter the ducts and potentially get inside the house and puddle on your floor. Cold air would also be able to get in this way, which would worsen the condensation issue.
Lastly, an open damper invites pests and allows leaves and other debris to clog up the ducts, which can, as I have already mentioned, also lead to water leaks.
To prevent any of these issues from happening, try to keep up with proper damper maintenance. The most important task that needs to be done is to clean it whenever it is clogged or dirty and either repair or replace the damper and seal when it’s broken or stuck.
Water Supply Leaking (Steam Dryer)
If you own a steam dryer, there is always the possibility that your water supply is leaking.
Perhaps you overfilled your steam feeder (a drawer that needs to be filled with water to create steam), or if you have a dryer that is directly connected to a cold water supply, the inlet could be leaking.
If it is the latter, you should inspect your water supply hose and make sure it is not leaking and doesn’t have any holes or cracks. The hose should also be properly installed with a gasket or O ring on each. Naturally, these gaskets also need to be in good condition.
You can also check the drum of the dryer to see if there is any water leak from the steam supply inside the drum.
In case the supply hose or its gaskets are damaged, they need to get replaced, and the problem should be solved.
However, if the steam supply is leaking into the drum even when the system is turned off, the best thing you can do is to request a service from your manufacturer.