Many apartments, and even some homes, do not have a dryer vent, making the use of a traditional dryer impossible. Is hauling clothes to the local laundromat, or hanging them out to dry, your only options? Thankfully, the answer is “no!”
Appliance manufacturers make ventless dryers that don’t need an exhaust vent. There are two popular styles condensation type and heat pump type. Many of these are combination washer and dryer in one. This is possible because the plumbing required to drain water from the wash cycle is also used in removing moisture during the drying process.
The condensation dryer pulls in air from the surrounding room and heats the laundry just like a traditional dryer. But what it does next is very different. Rather than venting the hot, moist air, it is passed through a piece of equipment known as a heat exchanger that cools the air by radiating its heat out and away. When the air cools, the moisture it contains condenses and flows into the drain. The dry air is reheated and passed through the clothes again, collecting moisture. The process continues until the clothes are dry.
Models employing a heat pump are more efficient. They draw the heated, moist air out of the drying chamber and across a series of pipes filled with cold water that causes the moisture to condense and enter the drain. As with the condensation dryer, the air is then reheated and the process continues until the clothes are dry.
Ventless dryers are most often used where traditional venting is impossible. For some users, that actually represents an advantage, since it alleviates the need for dryer vent cleaning, which should be done on a yearly basis to avoid clogging and the risk of fire. In addition, traditional dryers using natural gas rely on the vent for eliminating harmful waste gases, and if a vent becomes detached or blocked, this may present a serious health risk. This danger is not present with ventless dryers.
The disadvantages of ventless dryers include longer drying times, in addition to the higher price tag for these technologically advanced appliances. Most single units cost $600 to $1100, while combinations can cost more than $1,500.