E.P. from Dane County, Wisconsin writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo HOA contracts to have our dryer vents cleaned once every two years, but we don’t have it required in our HOA bylaws. So, we have some owners who say they’ve cleaned it themselves, but upon casual inspection, they weren’t able to do a proper job. We want to add language in our bylaws to require the biannual cleaning, but could use some pointers on what that language looks like. Thanks!
Mister Condo replies:
E.P., I applaud your HOA for requiring dryer vent cleaning on a regular basis as dryer vent fires are still a leading cause at condominiums and HOAs. Your Board should simply follow the same procedures as it would for any other by-law or rules additions. The wording might look something like this:
“XYZ Association requires professional dryer vent cleanings once every 2 years. XYZ Association will negotiate a price and arrange dryer vent cleaning on behalf of all HOA members. Each homeowner is required to individually pay for the actual vent cleaning of the vent work for their home and will be billed by the vendor.”
Hope that helps. All the best!
19 thoughts on “New Rule Implementation on Condo Dryer Vent Cleaning”
One of the problems I see as a Home Concierge Service in the condominium maintenance industry is there is no checks and balances.Vendors are hired to do the work, the invoice goes in and gets paid. But, no one is checking up on the work. I was at a condominium a short time ago doing a siding repair. While i was on site theer were a few dryer vents only about 8 ft off the ground I could see that they were beyond packed with lint. I dont know how any of there three households got ther clothes dryed. Anyway, While I was on site I photographed the three vents then cleaned them and photographed them again. I then sent the photos to the property manager and explained I cleaned these at no charge. He stated they just paid to have the dryer vents cleaned at a cost of 79.00 each. So to sum it up he doesnt leave his office and no one checks on the work being paid for. So if work is being done in your complex someone needs to check that the work is done. Dryer vents are a huge liability and cause many fires. They need to be claened on a regular basis.
Out of curiosity why is it an owners responsibility to pay for dryer vents?
While I agree it’s a necessity and a must to prevent fires. The requirements of anything behind a drywall is an association’s responsibility. I found this out after checking with our association counsel as we implemented a program I suggest to check the Declaration and Bylaws.
I., unless the documents specifically list dryer vents as a common or limited common element, it would be owner responsibility. After all, the owner is the only one using the dryer vent and creating the need for maintenance. Your advice to always check the Declaration and Bylaws is sound. Thanks for the feedback!
Pay attention. Even as standard maintenance such as cleaning gutters it must be done and should be treated as a common element, add it to your reserves and make sure it is dine. Changing declarations is a tough process and life safety comes first.
How would you handle a situation where a condo owner has installed a ventless dryer (condenser or heat pump) plastered over the dryer vent from the inside and then refuses to clean dryer vent because it is no longer in use?
M., did the owner have permission from the association to install the ventless dryer and plaster over the dryer vent? If so, there may be no further need to clean this dryer vent as it was properly applied for, approved, and installed. If the unit owner did not have permission to cover up the dryer vent, it should be restored to original condition (by the owner or at the owner’s expense) and routine dryer vent cleaning should resume. Hope that helps!
My association has not cleaned our vents in almost 20 years. I have an email from a few years ago that they would need access to each unit and would get back to the sender. They never did. And they have not returned multiple emails of mine In 6 months!? Same with management company. What can I do?
N., I can’t imagine why the association, managed by the Board, would allow such poor maintenance and such a potential fire hazard. I would suggest you point out to them their oversight via certified letters sent to the association and the Property Management company. That should get their attention. If not, consider paying for your own dryer vent cleaning so at least your unit is safe. Good luck!
Thank you. I don’t think we are allowed to get on the roof without permission. And since we are all attached if one starts a fire it effects us all. I thought maybe there was somewhere I could report this. Most the folks on the board don’t even live here. It’s crazy.
N., there is one thing you could do but the Board probably wouldn’t like you for it… If you were to alert the insurer of the association that no dryer vent cleaning had been done for years, they would likely alert the association and/or cancel their policy if they didn’t agree to periodic maintenance of the vents. The insurer has no desire to pay a fire claim for a dryer vent fire that could have been easily prevented with routine maintenance. Good luck!
You can! Reach out to your local fire chief and request they send the inspector to the building. Tell him your concerns and that you are not getting response from Association or Property Manager.
I had the fire department inspect our community, they cited the office management company for the air dryer vents as a violation, now they sent us notices that all the unit owners have to pay out of pocket to have the vents cleaned. Increasing the likelihood of a potential accident having so many different vendors servicing all the different units from the first floor to the 4th floor. Ridiculous. We pay an enormous amount of money as it is.
My brother is looking to purchase a condo which currently has a washer/dryer (electric) combo that is vented inside only into a bucket. I have advised him to contact the HOA to review the policy with them before purchasing, and they said it isn’t an issue. If they don’t enforce proper venting in any of their units, am I correct in assuming this is a big risk?
E., I am not sure that venting “into a bucket” is a fire hazard. It is unsightly and probably very inefficient. I know Home Depot and Lowe’s with sell indoor dryer vents that are perfectly safe. I am assuming that is what your brother is dealing with here. Of so, there isn’t likely any problem.
Thank you for the conversation in this thread. It provides some interesting insight.
We have a dryer duct problem in our building in that the ducts are 40 years old and are comprised of flexible coil duct with a vinyl wrap. These are currently not to code. At 40 years old, the ducts themselves are in various conditions (clogged with lint, birdsnest, disconnected from the laundry room).
I’m the board president (newer to the board) and the duct cleaning contractors we talked with to clean them would not because the ducts are fragile, and they are concerned with liability in further damaging them. Each contractor recommended that we replace them with rigid pipe that meets code.
Our condo declaration indicates the following:
“The boundary lines of each apartment unit are the interior unfinished surfaces…”
“The common elements consist of all conduits, wires, pipes, and utility lines up to the outlets thereof inside the walls of each unit, regardless of location, and all… pipes, ducts, flues, chutes, and other appurtenant installations to the outlets thereof regardless of location”
Given the language above, I suspect that the Association is responsible for costs for the replacement of the duct, at least for duct that is non-functioning, which Is what I want to propose we do as the Board, given its a life safety issue and the right thing to do.
Your feedback is appreciated. Thank you
M, I would agree with your assessment of the situation based on that interpretation of the documents, which may be good news for your association as it can grab the bull by the horns and replace the flexible ductwork with permanent and durable ductwork that can be properly maintained by the association. Of course, there will be initial expense of installation and ongoing expense of maintenance but it would be well worth it as it sounds like you have a major fire hazard with the flexible ductwork currently in place. Consult with an association attorney to confirm your interpretation of the documents and then move to have the ductwork replaced and maintained. all the best!
we are having a problem of a popping noise in the ceiling above the dryer and hot water heater. The condo manager has sent over a mechanic who says the vent pipes have to be repaired. this involves cutting open the ceiling to inspect and then repair. who is the responsible party?
R.M., a popping noise may not be a serious enough issue for the Board to repair. That being said, unless you own the pipes (unusual), it is likely a common element owned by the association, who would have the burden to make the repair. Inform the Board of your problem, the mechanic’s suggested solution, and see what they say. If they agree to fix it, you will need to provide the access to their repairman who should also repair any access damage caused to make the repair. All the best!
Interesting comments. Currently in process of purchasing a condo. Upon inspection and some research it was discovered that the seller and/or condo association NEVER obtained the proper “required” permit to replace a clothes dryer exhaust vent within interior walls at a length greater than 10 ft. Since the realtors denied this was necessary, on my own, I contacted the Director of my state’s Codes and Standards who emailed me back (as well the the Town where this happened) that a permit was required. If they refuse to obtain permit and have inspected including installation of proper exhaust vent materials I will not venture further. A fire hazard to be sure. Many people would not think of this BUT I WOULD strongly encourage buyers (sellers too) to verify whether permits are required for any type of work.