Dryer Smells Like Burning? Here’s Why, and How to Fix It

Register Appliance
October 2, 2023
Dryer Repair

Noticing a burning smell when your dryer is running can be alarming! Don’t panic and call in a dryer technician just yet, however—there are a ton of DIY fixes for this issue that you can try first. Below, we take a look at the most common causes of a burning smell in your dryer, and how to fix the issue. 

Clogged lint filter

The lint filter or lint trap is where lint from your clothes accumulates during the dryer cycle. Ideally, you should clean this every time you use the dryer to avoid a potential fire hazard.

The fix

To solve this issue, you just have to clean out the lint filter! It’s pretty simple—the lint filter, usually located at the bottom of the dryer door, is a mesh container that can be pulled out of the dryer and cleaned. 

Thoroughly clean out all visible lint, and make sure you also check the filter housing as well—this is a common place for excess lint to get trapped. Once it’s all clean, replace the lint filter into the filter housing and run your dryer again. The burning smell should now be gone!

Blocked vent line

If your lint filter is clean but the dryer still smells like burning, you could have a lint buildup in the vent line. This is the flexible tube that runs from the back of the dryer and vents to the outside. If it gets too clogged, the lint can overheat, causing a burning smell and even becoming a fire hazard.

The fix

To solve this issue, follow these steps:

  • Disconnect the vent line from both the dryer end and the outside end.
  • Thoroughly clean the cavity where the vent line is attached to the dryer. This can often gather a buildup of lint. 
  • Stretch out the vent line, and use a vacuum to thoroughly clean out all of the lint buildup.
  • If your vent pipe is too long for a vacuum to reach the middle, you can purchase a flexible vent pipe cleaning brush online in order to reach all the way through.
  • Once the vent line is clean, reattach it to the dryer and place the other end where it was before. The burning smell should now be gone!

Overloaded dryer

Did you know that overloading a dryer is a common cause of burning smells? When a dryer is too full, it’s impossible for it to heat evenly. This means that there are some spots that overheat while other spots stay damp. These hot spots are the source of the burning smell. They can damage the fabric of your clothes and even pose a fire risk, so be careful.  

The fix

Thankfully, the fix for this is a simple one—just make sure you don’t put too many clothes in the dryer at one time! Most dryer manuals state the ideal load size, so take a look at yours to figure out what’s best for your machine. Your laundry should have plenty of room to move around so that it can dry properly.  

Worn drive belt

If your dryer belt is worn, torn, or misaligned, the increased friction can lead to a burning smell. If your dryer is also making a clanking or squealing sound when it runs, this is another clue it might be a belt issue. 

The fix

  • Unplug the dryer and remove the front and top panels to access the belt.
  • Check the belt for any wear, tear, or fraying. The drive belt is responsible for rotating the drum, so it’s subject to a lot of friction and is prone to wearing out and getting stretched. 
  • If you determine that your belt is faulty, order a replacement part online.
  • If you’re comfortable replacing the belt yourself, consult your user manual to find out the exact process for your model. In most cases, you’ll need to remove the drum and unhook the belt from the drive mechanism, then rethread the new belt. 
  • Put the dryer back together and run a test cycle to ensure the smell has gone. 

Malfunctioning heating element

To find out if a faulty heating element is causing a burning smell, unplug the dryer and access the heating element. In most models, this is located at the back or bottom of the dryer. Do a visual inspection to check for any signs of damage or burnt areas. 

The fix

  • Firstly, unplug the dryer to ensure your safety during the inspection and repair process.
  • Remove and inspect the heating element for any visible damage or breaks in the coil. You may need to remove the back panel of your dryer first—consult your user manual to find out exactly what to do for your specific model. 
  • Check for foreign objects or lint buildup that might be coming in contact with the element to create the burning smell.
  • Thoroughly clean the area around the heating element to remove any debris that might be causing the smell.
  • If the heating element itself looks damaged, you can either get a technician to replace it or try replacing it yourself. Only attempt to replace it yourself if you’re experienced at electrical DIY, as it can be a complex task. You can order a replacement element online and look at the directions in your user manual to find out how to put the new element in place. 
  • After fixing, plug in the dryer and run a test cycle to check if the burning smell has been resolved.
Spread the love

Leave a Reply