How hard can it be to install a dryer vent in a brick Victorian?

September 2, 2015

I knew there was only one layer of bricks, so how hard could it be?

Four layers of crossed 1″ boards provided some resistance to the 4″ masonry core bit, as it doesn’t cut wood. It quickly became clear that the part I hadn’t anticipated, the cutting of wood within the wall, would be the real task here.

A 5″ el Cheapo hole cutter made it through the first two layers of wood, a 7/8 ash baseboard and an inch of hemlock, with only a few trips to the shop for blacksmith work. My $25. Princess Auto 1/2″ drill worked reasonably well for the wood butchering. But then came a cavity and the hole cutter couldn’t reach the boards on the other side, so I resorted to a brand new foot-long 7/16″ auger bit mounted in the drill. It cut through the hemlock with alacrity, and Bet had handed me a penlite flash so I could see.

I peppered the boards with holes, hoping something would give before the rented drill bit was due back in the morning. A brand new 5/8″ chisel even took a lick at the stubborn wood, driven by a claw-hammer, no less. Such was my desperation.

I should specify that conditions were very cramped in the corner of the laundry room behind the washer and dryer. Things improved considerably when Bet brought a fan to cool things off.

Eventually the wood turned to splinters which I picked out with my fingers. The rented 4″ core cutter on a 12″ extension, coupled with my friend’s heavy duty hammer drill, went to work on the brick. I kept checking for a light at the end of the tunnel, and eventually a tiny one appeared in the centre of the hole, so I hauled the massive drill/bit/extension combination out onto the roof and plugged into the fancy 110 outlet currently in service up there in case I need to plug in any Christmas lights or de-icing equipment.

I was quietly pleased to note that the hole was in the correct place, so I completed the cut from outside and did not fall off the roof, then slid the assembled dryer vent back in from the outside. Four small screws, a couple of cans of foam (wide gap filler) and the new dryer vent should be in operation.

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