How To Hook Up A Dryer Vent In A Tight Space (My 5 Steps)

Do you want to find out the best way to install a dryer vent in a very tight space?

You are in the right spot. A dryer vent installation can be a pain even if you do all the right things, but with the right steps (and tools), it can be done smoothly.

In this guide, we will go over...

  • flexible metal vents versus aluminum foil vents
  • why rigid elbows sometimes get in the way (and are unnecessary)
  • how a simple drill attachment helps the install tremendously
  • why metal tape helps it become a solid connection
  • how to make sure the vent is positioned correctly
how to hook up dryer vent in tight space

Step 1. Pull Out The Dryer

The first step is to pull out the dryer, and unplug the unit.

When the dryer is in a tight space, there really is no other way but to climb over the appliance to get behind it.  Pull out the dryer as much as possible so you can have some space to work. If you need to use a step ladder in order to climb behind the dryer, then use it carefully.

If you can pull out the dryer far enough so you can get behind it without climbing over, then that's even better.

Pro Tip: If you can't imagine climbing over a dryer, I recommend using Thumbtack to find a qualified dryer vent cleaning company. Thumbtack will connect you with a highly rated local pro who can install the vent without the hassle.

Step 2. Disconnect The Old Vent

Now that you are behind the dryer, disconnect the old vent. If you are in a tight space, it may be difficult to unscrew the metal clamp holding the dryer vent to the flanges. There is a great tool that you can connect to a cordless drill that will make this part much easier --- it's called a flexible extension drill bit holder. Check the price for it here.

A flexible extension drill bit holder can make a dryer vent install so much easier in tight spaces.

You may also have to remove old metal vent tape (or heaven forbid, duct tape) from the old vent connections. A utility knife will come in handy.

Also, don't forget that you can re-use the old metal clamps on the new vent.

Read Also: How To Size A Bathroom Exhaust Fan (The Best Method?)

foil type dryer vent in tight spaces

Step 3.  Install The Best Dryer Vent Hose For Tight Spaces

For dryer vent installations in tight spaces, I highly recommend installing the flexible foil type of dryer vent instead of flexible metal. The flexible metal vents are great dryer vents --- very high quality --- but they are terrible in tight spaces, and not worth the grief.

I have seen many flexible metal dryer vents that were installed in tight spaces, and they were crushed, warped, and damaged. And usually, the homeowner wasn't even aware of how distorted and crushed the vent actually was. The best vent in my opinion to use when there is a close clearance is the flexible foil type --- because it is such a low profile dryer vent.

This type of dryer vent is much more flexible, and it is very easy to install. You can check out the price here on this vent type.

Now that the flanges are clear, first put the metal clamp over the flex vent. Then, you will want to put one end of the dryer vent over the metal flange (on the dryer or from the wall). In a close clearance, I would discourage using any type of rigid metal elbows --- they are simply unnecessary with the foil type of dryer vent.

I always recommend homeowners to also stay away from offset dryer vents. These are the flat dryer vents that have a rectangular portion to it. The rectangular part is just a few inches thick, and it is a very dumb product in my opinion. Dryer vent connections should always be at least four inches wide and circular. Anything less than a 4" circle will greatly restrict air flow.

I have seen many problems caused by these periscope dryer vents. Don't do it!

If you don't have a metal flange coming out of the wall, then that is a problem in and of itself. The vent going through a wall/ceiling cavity or crawlspace should always be rigid metal!  Flexible dryer vent hoses are only suitable for very short lengths from the back of the dryer to the wall.

After the end of the vent is over the metal flange, then move the clamp into the right position, and tighten using the cordless drill. Repeat for the other end of the flex vent.

Step 4. Install Foil Tape

I always recommend putting one layer of metal foil tape over the metal clamp and flange to give it a very tight seal. Especially in a tight space behind the dryer, you don't want the connection coming loose so you have to do it again.  Check the price for foil tape here.

Step 5. Push Back Dryer And Check Vent

Now it is time to push the dryer back into the space. You want to do this step very carefully, because you don't want to crush or damage the dryer vent. Do it slowly, and periodically check the dryer vent. You can use a mirror if you can't lean far enough to see it.

I highly recommend that you use the end of a broomstick to maneuver the dryer vent into an optimal position for the most airflow --- before the dryer is totally pushed back. It is important that there isn't a kink in the hose that prevents air flow because it may become a fire hazard.

Read Also: Venting a Bathroom Fan Into An Attic (My Detailed Guide)

The Bottom Line On Dryer Vents in Tight Spaces

It can be a tough job, but with the right tools, and taking it step by step --- installing a dryer vent in a tight space is a doable job. For me, I will want a small cordless drill, two metal vent clamps, a flexible extension drill bit holder, metal foil tape --- and the most important of all --- a flexible foil type dryer vent (not the flexible metal).

And don't forget to carefully push back the dryer into position, using a broomstick to push the dryer vent into an optimal position for the most air flow.

But if you want to skip the hassle of installing a dryer vent (or cleaning it), then I recommend using Thumbtack to find a qualified vent cleaning company. Thumbtack will match you with a highly rated local pro who can clean your vent without a problem.

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Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

Arie is the founder of Home Inspector Secrets, an online resource dedicated to helping people understand how homes work. He is a licensed home inspector in two U.S states and owns a residential and commercial inspection company (read his full bio on the About page). To ask Arie a question, please use the comment box at the bottom of the relevant article.

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Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home maintenance. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, and much more.