April 18, 2017

TT #95 Washer/Dryer Vent Replacement

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

Many RVs are equipped with a combined washer and dryer made by Splendide. Our 2009 American Coach Allegiance 40X has a 2000 series, which has been replaced by the 2100 model in newer RVs where a combined unit is installed. Near the end of our winter use of the RV washer/dryer, (a.k.a. dryer) in Florida, we noticed excessive amounts of air flowing out from around the dryer. Since our unit is in the bathroom, we used the overhead fan to draw out the moist air. Lint was being drawn onto the fan screen indicating a substantial leak even though there was good air flow out of the vent.Exterior Vent Location


It looked like a large task requiring another person to assist me in moving the unit out to access the back of the dryer. Frequently the simplest way to deal with this issue is to remove the exterior vent and reconnect or replace the hose connected to the dryer and reinstall the exterior vent. I had done this on a previous RV. As you can see from the photo of the exterior vent on this coach, it really is part of the RV and painted to match the coach. Removing it would have been a much bigger task than expected.

I asked my son to assist me and we made the decision to remove the dryer from its cabinet to access the vent hose. We had less than ½” (1.3cm) around the exterior of the dryer so there was not much room to work in.>Location of Washer/Dryer The bathroom location placed it with a shower stall to the left, a wall to the right containing various pipes and electrical lines, and a closet with shelves overtop of it. It is next to the toilet. There was little space to work in.

Removal of HarwareI contacted American Coach to see if there was a simple way to access the rear of the dryer however I was told to remove the front cabinetry and pull out the dryer. I proceeded to remove the two cabinet doors that cover the dryer by removing the hinges from the surrounding frame, together with all of the door latch mechanisms. This gave us a clean opening.  

We placed an appropriately sized plastic box on the floor in front of the dryer and opened the dryer door to provide a ‘handle’ to lift the dryer by means of lifting on the drum. Carefully, with lots of effort given the tight location and weight of the dryer, we juggled it most of the way out of the cabinet. Peering into the rear of the dryer, we could see the vent was totally shredded in the middle and the water, drain and electrical connections were all wire tied together. Any further movement would require removing the lines from the unit. With great effort, we disconnected the power cord and water lines. We were stymied about how we were going to access the vent to repair it. Ultimately, we decided that we would have to access it from above the washer/dryer unit.


Separation of Bottom ShelfBy emptying the shelves above and removing them (they were adjustable and removable), we had clear access to the bottom of that cabinet over the dryer. Just when we thought that we would have to ‘rip’ up the lower shelf we noticed seven (7) screw heads in a line across the middle of the bottom section. Removing them revealed that bottom panel was divided in a ratio of ¾ & ¼. We were able to lift the two sections along the butted joint however the shelf was still firmly fixed in place. Those sections were also nailed all around the perimeter to the underlying wooden frame. Removing the two shelf panels revealed the water lines, including the 90⁰ shut-off valves, the electric cord and its socket,(all on the right side) the drain pipe running across the back and the dryer vent connection (on the left side).


Dryer Connections

The original vent connection was shredded and open to the cabinet which resulted in air leakage and this allowed lint to collect on all surfaces in the enclosure including the top surface of the dryer. The vent was a 4” (10.1cm) aluminum expanded metal used in heating and air conditioning applications as well as commercial dryer venting. The short distance between the back of the dryer and the wall, made installing the replacement pipe (shown) a challenge. One needed to pull the dryer ahead to attach it to the appliance and then slide the dryer back on the correct angle to allow the vent pipe to be attached to the exterior vent. Tightening the gear clamps to retain the vent pipe was also difficult. With the dimensions of the cabinet, the rubber feet on the bottom of the washer/dryer and the cloth covered surface under the dryer, sliding it required lifting, pulling and pushing all at the same time. This presented a real challenge in such a small area. Further complicating the replacement was the fact that the corner where the vent was located did not have sufficient space to allow a loop of vent pipe to fall behind the dryer. In an ideal scenario, the vent would have been attached to both places prior to aligning the appliance in the opening and then locating the dryer correctly, with the excess piping falling down behind the dryer. This would have greatly simplified the process of attaching the vent and aligning the dryer in the opening. Dryer Vent Connection


As you can see, we were able to securely attach the vent and get the dryer back in place. It has never been aligned in the cabinet so that the front was parallel with the front opening.  There was insufficient room given the vent location and the array of pipes running up the opposite side wall from the basement to the roof. Both constrained aligning the dryer parallel to the cabinet’s front panel.


One other item that we noticed, but did not change, was that the washer drain hose was placed into a black plastic drain pipe and only partially sealed at the top. This is typical of most installations in residential settings, the pipe is simply inserted into the opening. There is a trap at the bottom at the bottom of the pipe, which will hold water and prevent sewer gases from rising out of the top of the drain pipe. However, in a RV with intermittent use, the trap can dry out. This open pipe provides an opening for sewer gases from the grey water holding tank to rise into the RV. We’ve always noticed that when we first use the RV after it sits unused, there is a foul smell in the bathroom. After this repair experience, I am confident that the washer’s drain pipe is the source of the gas emission.  Running the washer shortly after connecting to campground services, should eliminate this issue. I will also investigate whether the top of the pipe can be completely sealed off around the drain pipe.

Completed RepairThe remainder of the repair involved testing the washer/dryer to ensure the water valves were turned on, that there were no leaks and that the power cord was secured into the outlet. We reinstalled the two access panels, using a selection of screws, rather than screws and nails to secure the perimeter of the top panels. All the door catches were reinstalled together with the doors themselves and after adjusting them to allow the doors to close, the job was completed.


So, what did we learn?

1.    That sometimes the installation of these appliances is not as simple as we would like, which makes repairs much more difficult than anticipated.

2.     Factory service centers do not always have sufficient information on an individual coach to provide the assistance and re-assurance that owners would like to have.

3.    Some strange construction techniques can frustrate repair efforts: i.e. screwing and nailing the same panel on opposite sides,

4.    Having an appliance with rubber feet placed on carpet to prevent appliance sliding in RV use. While the construction design considered down the road movement, it frustrates movement in a very tight space when repair is needed.

5.    We’ve owned the coach for over 6 years and did not know that there was access to the water valves and electric cord in the upper cabinet floor.

Hopefully this detailed explanation or our repair will make it easier should your RV require a similar repair in the future.  Completed Repair



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