Friday, March 6, 2015

Dryer, Part 1: The Vent.

The Vent.

About every year or so, I get out of my house to visit a friend.  Often times, I notice that a lot of folks seem to have this strange device in their basement that seems to spin clothing garments while simultaneously heating them up.  Also, I've noticed that when you walk through their basements, its not like walking through a hellraiser-like gauntlet of clothing dangling from the ceiling.

Occupy basement.. yours truly doing what he does best: silently sulking in the dark.

It turns out there is this thing called a "clothes dryer".  Upon completion of washing clothes, a person will move the clothes from the washing area into this device that will heat up and dry your clothing!  It also has the added bonus of removing lint and smoothing out wrinkles from your garments!

Excerpt from Broadway musical, Occupy Wolf Street:
Occupy: So, hold on...  Let me get this straight.  Other people don't have to iron all their clothes after they are done their laundry? 
1st World Dweller: No, not typically.  Usually its only used during an emergency ten minutes before you need to be at a wedding. 
Occupy:But the lint... surely people spend hours every week with a stupid lint roller and/or roll of masking tape trying to create the illusion that they are not complete dirtballs when they show up at work?
1st World Dweller:  Define the word "lint"? 
Occupy: You know, that gross white-to-grey fuzzy stuff that comes in clumps on your clothing... that schmutz on your clothing that is impossible to remove? 
1st World Dweller: Wait, is that the stuff I dump from the mesh screen in my dryer?

I think that sums it up.

Washing your clothes four (4) days in advance of before you will actually get to wear them starts to get old after 37 years of life.  Summer speeds up the drip-dry process, but the winter can be miserable at times.

I used to wear my "drip dry" merit badge with honor.  It was one of many badges I have collected and sewed onto my sustainability sash over the years.  However, like most of my "live simple" medals, they often come with cross to bear.  This cross takes its shape in the form of lint-covered, wrinkly clothes... or better yet, just no clothes at all because they are either all wet or all dirty.

At this time, I'm going to take a moment to air out some of my proverbial dirty laundry over the internet, pun intended.   I know this may come as a shocker.. but I hate wrinkles on my clothes.  Yes, you heard it right. I am a certified wrinklephobe.  Yes, its true. Even dirty low-lifes like myself have some standards.  And it starts with having non-crinkled clothing.

The largest barrier for entry for installing a dryer in one's house is figuring out a proper way to vent it.  Since the house is all brick and masonry, this is going to be a serious pain in the ass.  The only option: smash out about 18" of brick and stone from the front of the house, without damaging the facade much.  Seems easy enough, let's begin:

3/8" pilot holes, around an approximate center

The first challenge was finding a place to do this that's actually possible.  As you can see, immediately to the right of the hammer drill above is the 100 amp service cable for my electric panel.  That comes in and makes a sharp left, right below where my proposed hole is.  Then right next to that is my meter followed by electric panel.  Basically, I have to ace this hole or get fried trying.

Oh yeah, there is also a water line right there as well.

The basic idea here is simple: Pilot as many holes as possible around the circumference, then start wailing away at it with a hammer and cold chisel.

The good news is this: The 16" drill bits I have are not long enough to get through the foundation.  It seems like the foundation of the house is about 18" total.  Great.  Oh, did I mention that the hole is basically impossible to reach from inside? Its just shy of the bottom of the joists, but also above my utility sink and larger part of the footing for the party walls.

So I have no idea what the material is on the outside of the house.  Its sort of like stucco, but its really granular and has real stone on it.  Its shaped by humans, and is slathered on top of what appears to be granite.  This is going to be fun to chisel out.

Since I'm basically allergic to masonry work, I don't even own a cold chisel. So I'm just wailing on tis with a hammer and a pry bar.

Finally, the first coarse (exterior layer) of bricks.  These are the hard, but brittle ones

Going deeper, almostt through the second coarse of bricks (softer, malleable ones)

Are we there yet?

It appears as though we made it through.  Its still not wide enough to accept a 4" duct yet.  Straight ahead you can see a water pipe and an outlet I installed last year sometime.

Cleaned hole. Ready to be ducted.  Its getting dark outside and my hands are cold and tired from slamming out granite and brick all day.

Ta da!

I went with straight aluminum.  I can't have a piece of plastic on the front of the house.

Yup, that's a good amount of broken brick. I'm feeling it.

Stay tuned as we try to connect the other side with some duct work that actually bends around the electric meter, service cable, water pipes, romex, washing machine and utility sink.  I guarantee the fun does not end here.

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