While I could get to the location in the picture to inspect the roof and the dryer vent cap on this 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.
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. Do we really expect more of them?
The codes defer to manufacturers installation instructions and of course the manufacturer advises installers to follow applicable codes. Most, if not all, manufacturers have no restrictions on location of the vent cap at the exterior–only that there be one (along with guidelines as to length, materials etc.).
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.
Until some homeowner gets killed trying to clean a vent at a location, or the house burns down because they were not able to clean it, the codes are not likely to change.
Of course perhaps a sport-climber may buy the house.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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