Burning Smell From Dryer? Here’s How To Fix It

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September 6, 2022

If your dryer is giving off a burning smell, it’s important to take action immediately. This could be indicative of a serious problem that could cause damage to your dryer—or even start a fire!

There are a few possible reasons why your dryer might be giving off a burning smell.

New dryers can give off a burning smell

When you first start using a new dryer, it is perfectly normal for it to emit a burning smell. This is because the heating element is new and still has manufacturing oils on it. These oils will burn off with time, and the smell should go away within the first few days of use. 

In the meantime, try running your dryer on the lightest cycle and setting for a few minutes to help speed up the process. If the smell persists, or if you notice any smoke coming from the dryer, then you should unplug it and contact the manufacturer for further assistance.

Step 1) Check and clean the lint tray

One of the most important maintenance tasks for a clothes dryer is to regularly empty and clean the lint tray. A build-up of lint can not only lead to reduced drying efficiency, but it can also be a fire hazard. The good news is that this task is relatively simple and only takes a few minutes to complete.

For front load dryers, the lint tray is located behind the door. Simply open the door and remove the tray. Empty the lint into the trash and then use a soft brush or cloth to remove any remaining lint from the tray or the surrounding area. Replace the tray and close the door.

For top load dryers, the lint tray is located on the inside of the dryer door. Open the door and remove the lint tray. Empty the lint into the trash and then use a soft brush or cloth to remove any remaining lint from the tray or the surrounding area. Replace the tray and close the door.

By taking a few minutes to regularly clean your dryer’s lint tray, you can help to ensure peak performance and prevent dangerous fires.

Step 2) Clean your dryer’s exhaust vent

Lint buildup in your dryer’s exhaust vent can cause the dryer to overheat and be a fire hazard. It is important to clean the lint out of the vent on a regular basis. Here are some steps to help you do that:

1. Unplug the dryer from the power outlet.

2. Remove the exhaust hose from the back of the dryer.

3. Use a vacuum cleaner with a long hose attachment to remove any lint from inside the vent pipe.

4. Replace the exhaust hose and plug the dryer back into the power outlet. 

5. Run the dryer on its highest heat setting for about 20 minutes to help remove any remaining lint buildup.

You should clean your dryer vent at least once a year to reduce the risk of fire.

Step 3) Check and clean the interior of the dryer

Lint can escape the exhaust system and accumulate in the interior of the dryer.

To fix this, first, unplug the dryer from the wall outlet and slide it away from the wall. Locate the screws that hold the back panel in place and remove them. With the back panel removed, clean out any lint that has accumulated there. You should also take this opportunity to inspect the belt and ensure that it is not damaged or excessively worn. 

Once you have finished cleaning, replace the back panel and screw it into place. Next time you use your dryer, you can be confident that it is clean and safe.

Step 4) Check the heating elements

Overheating heating elements in your dryer can cause a burning smell. If the lint trap and exhaust vent are clear, then the problem is likely with the heating element. 

In most cases, overheating is caused by a build-up of lint on the elements. If this is the case, you can simply clean the elements with a brush or vacuum to remove the lint.

If the heating element is damaged, it will need to be replaced. To repair a gas dryer, you will need to replace the heating element. To repair an electrical dryer, clean the heating coils with a soft brush.

Step 5) Check the dryer drums for lost clothing

While doing laundry, it’s not uncommon for a small article of clothing to go missing. Most often, socks are the culprit. If the sock gets caught in the dryer’s heating element, it can start to smolder and may eventually catch fire. To avoid this, it’s important to check your dryer’s drum for any lost articles of clothing.

First, unplug your dryer from the power outlet. Then, open the door and remove any clothes that may be inside. Next, take a look at the heating element. If you see any clothes trapped there, carefully remove them. Be sure to check all sides of the element, as socks and other small items can easily get tucked away in tight spaces. Finally, replace any clothing that was in the dryer and close the door. 

Once everything is back in place, plug your dryer back into the outlet and give it a test run. However, if you still smell burning, be sure to contact a qualified appliance repair technician for further assistance.

Step 6) Check the thermostat

The thermostat regulates the dryer’s temperature, and if it isn’t functioning correctly, it can cause the dryer to overheat. To check if the thermostat is the source of the problem, first, make sure that the lint screen is clean and unobstructed. Then, open up the dryer and locate the thermostat. It should be mounted near the heating element. Using a multimeter, test the thermostat for continuity. If there is no continuity, then the thermostat needs to be replaced. 

Once you’ve replaced the thermostat, run a test load of laundry to see if the burning smell has been eliminated.

If all else fails…

If your dryer is giving off a burning smell, there are several possible causes. We’ve outlined the most common ones here, but it’s always best to consult with a qualified professional if the problem persists or you have any doubts or concerns.

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