Troubleshooting Guide: How to Fix a Dryer That Smells Like Burning

Discovering a burning smell emanating from your dryer can be concerning and disruptive to your laundry routine. Not only is it unpleasant, but it could also be a sign of a potential fire hazard. It’s important to address this issue promptly to ensure the safety of your home and prevent any further damage to your dryer. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of troubleshooting and fixing a dryer that smells like burning.

1. Clean the Lint Filter and Ventilation System:

A clogged lint filter or ventilation system can restrict the airflow in your dryer, causing it to overheat and emit a burning smell. Follow these steps to clean them:

   a. Lint Filter: Remove the lint filter and clean it thoroughly under running water. Allow it to dry completely before reinserting it into the dryer.

   b. Ventilation System: Disconnect the dryer from the power source and detach the vent hose from the back of the dryer. Clean the vent hose and the vent opening on the exterior of your home using a vacuum cleaner or a vent cleaning brush.

2. Check for Obstructions:

Objects such as loose fabric, small articles of clothing, or even small rodents can find their way into the dryer’s drum or exhaust system, leading to burning smells. Perform the following checks:

   a. Dryer Drum: Inspect the drum and remove any foreign objects. Check the seals and gaskets for any signs of wear or damage.

   b. Exhaust System: Ensure that the exhaust system, including the exhaust hose or duct, is clear of any obstructions. Clear out any lint or debris that may have accumulated.

3. Examine the Heating Element:

A malfunctioning or damaged heating element can cause the dryer to overheat and emit a burning odor. Follow these steps to assess the heating element:

   a. Disconnect the Dryer: Unplug the dryer from the power source.

   b. Locate the Heating Element: Refer to your dryer’s user manual to locate the heating element. It is usually found behind the dryer drum or at the bottom of the appliance.

   c. Inspect for Damage: Visually inspect the heating element for any signs of damage, such as visible burn marks or broken coils. If you notice any issues, it may need to be replaced.

4. Evaluate the Belt and Drum Rollers:

Worn-out drum rollers or a loose or damaged belt can cause friction and generate a burning smell. Check these components as follows:

   a. Belt: Carefully inspect the dryer belt for signs of wear, fraying, or stretching. If the belt appears damaged, it may require replacement.

   b. Drum Rollers: Examine the drum rollers for wear or damage. They should rotate smoothly without any excessive noise or resistance. If they are worn out, consider replacing them.

5. Seek Professional Assistance:

If the burning smell persists or you’re uncomfortable performing any of the above steps, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance. An experienced appliance technician can diagnose the issue accurately and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.


A dryer that smells like burning is a cause for concern, and addressing the issue promptly is essential for safety and optimal appliance performance. By following the troubleshooting steps outlined above, including cleaning the lint filter and ventilation system, checking for obstructions, examining the heating element, and evaluating the belt and drum rollers, you can identify and resolve common causes of the burning smell. However, if the problem persists or you’re unsure about performing the repairs yourself, it’s best to consult a professional technician to ensure a thorough assessment and proper resolution. Prioritize safety and maintenance to keep your dryer running efficiently and odor-free.