Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Some things just make an inspector go AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

While I could get to the location in the picture to inspect the roof and vent cap on the two story house, it took my 26 foot ladder (fully extended with just a few inches of the ladder above the gutter) to do so. 

Poor Dryer Vent Location

I know inspectors that do not go on roofs like this--let alone homeowners.  Why do the building codes allow such locations for dryer vents?  Because, the codes are minimum standards.  Why do builders install them at these locations?  Because, it is the easiest place to get the duct to and it meets code. 

Best practices would have the builder run the vent to a location where it could be monitored and more easily maintained by the homeowner.

Instead, the builder taking the easier and cheaper route might result in additional costs to the homeowner to have someone qualified to be on the roof assess and maintain the vent cap 2 or 3 times a year.

Of course perhaps a sport-climber may buy the house.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle


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Comment balloon 35 commentsCharles Buell • September 28 2013 05:58AM


Hi Charles,

Like you said, how in the world are the owners supposed to check the vent and cleant it out at least twice a year?

Crazy huh. Builders don't think about the challenges of what they end up doing.

Have a good day in the Seattle area.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 5 years ago
Good morning Charles! I give you credit , going up on that roof is not anything I would like to do!
Posted by Kathy Sheehan, Senior Loan Officer (Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021) about 5 years ago

Not to mention the length, that is way too long! I have seen booster fans for dryer ducts that long, but not a big fan of those either... no pun intended :-)  I'm sure the one you pictured will not get cleaned very often, if at all. Show them this...



Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 5 years ago

Clint, that is what I would like to know as well

Kathy, and how many homeowners are going to do it?

Fred, dryer fires are nothing to laugh at that is for sure.  In this case the dryer is on the second floor so the length of the run is not excessive---just access is excessive

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Surely there would have been a better location Charles. Too bad it wasn't selected.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 5 years ago

I didn't really know I needed to clean out the vent from the outside twice a year..oopss!  Thanks!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) about 5 years ago

Tom, yet I see this over and over

Kristin, not so much twice a year as "when necessary."  Every dryer is different and every homeowner's use of the dryer is different.  I typically recommend cleaning once a month and then decreasing the frequency until the actual required frequency can be determined.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Charles:  When I was appraising years back .. and I'd see this sort of thing ... I'd always wonder if the builder took the easiest and cheapest route with the venting ... what else did they take the easiest and cheapest route with?  It's a mindset that probably is found throughout the home and a clue for potential home buyers ...   


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) about 5 years ago

Morning Charles! It sure is a good thing you don't have a fear of heights. I hope :)

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) about 5 years ago

Again, another classic example of builders being too cheap when constructing homes. It makes no sense to have a dryer vent on the roof. Really? 

Posted by Rosie Moore (Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City) about 5 years ago

Great post here, most homeowners would not be able to properly access and assess this, as you point out.  As Rosie commented though, it's in the builders best interest to cut costs I assume, sad.

Posted by Matt Kombrink, Your #1 Source For Real Estate (RE/MAX All Pro) about 5 years ago

Gene, the only saving grace I guess is that it may just be the one sub-contractor that is taking the short-cut, however the builder should be paying more attention if that is the case

Suzanne, not so much fear as respect

Rosie, I agree

Matt, additional costs would have to be considered miniscule actually

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Well for sure the building inspector didn't go up there to check on it either

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 5 years ago

Good grief, that is crazy! Did you need repelling equipment? I am somewhat woozy just thinking about that kind of height. 

Posted by Jenn Morson, Licensed Referral Agent and ASP - Team Woda (Metro Referrals) about 5 years ago

Looks like you need a double ladder of some sort to get down to that thing.  Or a harness I guess.  Good work spotting that.

Posted by Jay & Michelle Lieberman, Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos (Keller Williams World Class) about 5 years ago

Sharp eye. Can 't say I envy you on the ladder. I am not a fan of them.

Posted by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Improving the Quality of Your Life (Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/ about 5 years ago

Thanks Charles. 

Posted by Barry Kessler, Barry Kessler (CENTURY 21 Troop Real Estate) about 5 years ago

Ed, yes---not much chance of that

Jenn, I have it but I only use it on difficult roofs

Jay & Michelle, certainly only person qualified and trained to be on this type of roof should perform the work---not your average neighbor kid

Tanya, as they say, it is not the fall that gets you---it is the sudden stop at the bottom

Barry, you are welcome

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Yeah, this just doesn't seem like a prudent idea.  Hope all is well, my friend.  We need to catch up again soon!

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) about 5 years ago

Unfortunately most people don't monitor their dryer vents anyway.  Hopefully with that one there aren't any bends and they can run a pipe cleaner up there.

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) about 5 years ago

Charles, why is it that finding people who do the right thing because it is the right thing to do (like you did in inspecting this dryer vent) are few & fair between.  Whether it is inspecting, building, selling or just living.  Gives us something to continue to aspire to.  

Posted by Kelly Young, Colorado Springs Real Estate ~ 719-226-0126 (The Platinum Group Realtors) about 5 years ago

Wow, that's crazy -- you wouldn't catch me cleaning out THAT vent.  I'd just call you to come with your ladder to NY and we'd be all set!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, about 5 years ago

I hate when I see these on the roof. It doesn't make any sense! 

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) about 5 years ago

You mean builders take short cuts if it passes code? 


Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) about 5 years ago

Jason, yes---going well here---I miss your hanging out in the rain.

Marc, there is that too---amazing how much they get ignored

Kelly, that is the 64,000 dollar question isn't it?

Kat, now that would be a pricy house call

Juan, sooner or later we will see the codes reflect this problem I am sure

Fernando, yup---the codes are just a minimum standard

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Hmm -- I love it when a builder's agent says the builder won't allow an inspection for new construction because it has be inspected by the town...

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 5 years ago

This has been a big beef of mine for many years.  The first house I saw it on was in a retirement community!  Yeah, they are going up there to check and clean the vent!

My reports cross reference to my blog about it!  Very coneniently I might add.

If not, I would cross reference them to this one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Joan, I think every inspector here on AR has demonstrated the falacy of that

Jay, I have a similar one for mine

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

I'd rather have the dryer vent at ground level so if it gets blocked I can clean it out and prevent a fire hazard.

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Intero Real Estate) about 5 years ago

Good Lord, Charles.  You must be fearless! 

Posted by Elise Harron, Rural Vacant Land and Development Specialist (Dirt Road Real Estate) about 5 years ago

Hi Charles, No...definately not the best place for a dryer vent and shame on the city for allowing this to pass code. One would think this wouldn't since it clearly can't be checked.

Posted by Cindy Westfall, ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate (Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon) about 5 years ago

Bryan, and that is where it should be.  If it takes more than an 8 foot ladder to reach it, most people are going to ignore it

Elise, not really---just use to it

Cindy, the city could make the codes more restrictive in this respect---but few go beyond the general code requirements.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

I can not understand why anyone would put a dryer vent through the roof. Well, actually I can understand, but the reasoning is what I don't care for. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 5 years ago

Charles, I ALWAYS recommend that my buyers use an ASHI certified inspector for the very reasons you listed in your blog.


Posted by Kerry L Klun, Broker/Owner, 321-626-5868 (Palm Realty) about 5 years ago


Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago