Home Inspection Winter Tips #5: Clean Your Vents.

This weeks home inspection winter tip is to clean your vents. As a certified home inspector that performs home inspections in Iowa City, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and a host of other cities, I get to see a wide variety of homes in varying degrees of condition. I like to give winter tips to my clients at the inspection and post them on our Facebook fan page as well. One thing that I see quite often is clogged vents. 

Today I will talk about two types of vents. One pushes air out of the home and the other draws air in.
Home Inspection Dryer vent
The first vent is your dryer vent which pushes air out of the home. The dryer vent to the right could really stand to be cleaned. Maybe even replaced. Notice how the flapper valve is being held open by the accumulation of lint? This allows heat to escape from the basement area during the winter season which can drive up heating costs, not to mention make it uncomfortable downstairs. Moreover, the accumulation of lint can cause your dryer to run less efficiently and may lead to the potential of a dryer fire which is something you do not want. Dryer vents should be inspected semi-annually and cleaned as needed.


The next vent we will look at draws air in from the exterior. It is called a make up air vent or fresh air intake. As you can see this vent is nearly clogged. The purpose of this vent is to help maintain equal pressure inside the home. This is accomplished by allowing outside air to enter via the vent into the return air side of the furnace. If the furnace is running at the time of intake, the incoming air will be conditioned and distributed throughout the home. The addition of a make up air vent may help to reduce radon gas concentrations in the home because the home will not be under negative pressure and trying to draw from sump pits or from around plumbing penetrations. If you have a gravity type flue vent on your water heater, a make up air vent may help eliminate the potential for back drafting. This vent should be inspected annually and cleaned as needed. Cleaning can be accomplished with a shop-vac from the outside.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go and like our Facebook page and other social media where we post home inspection winter tips, advice, recalls and entertaining pictures from our daily adventures.

Now get outside and check those vents before the snow flies.