Smoking dryer

chi83December 11, 2010

Hi everyone,

I'm having some issues with my dryer. I should mention I'm renting an apartment so it's not my dryer. It's a GE and it looks fairly new. Last week, I put a load of laundry in to dry and it was going about 30 minutes when I distinctly smelled smoke. I went over to the dryer and opened it and it was very strong. My clothes were absolutely saturated with the smell. The best comparison I can make is if you smell the charred remains after a fire has burnt out. That's what it smelled like. No flame or anything, and the smoke alarm almost directly above it didn't go off and it goes off if I preheat my oven so maybe it wasn't actually smoke.

So of course I immediately put in a request to the complex to inspect it and air dry my clothes because I'm worried about starting a fire. The complex sent over their resident handyman to look at it while I was at work. When I got home, there was a note on my counter that said "the dryer works fine." I was immediately suspicious because it sounds like they just turned it on and saw that it was working, which is true. It turns on fine and takes a few minutes to start smelling.

So after that, I did another load of laundry but this time I was watching it. After about 10 minutes, I hadn't smelt anything major but I opened it and sniffed and definitely smelled the smokey smell again. It wasn't as bad because I had only run it a fraction of the time. I again air dried my clothes because I was afraid there was lint catching on fire.

The lint trap was cleaned out before each use. I pulled the dryer back from the wall to see if there was anything back there and it was clean. The hose seems to be okay. I didn't look inside the dryer because I have no idea what I'm doing.

Also I should note that when I first moved in, the dryer wouldn't dry at all. They had to clear out a lot of blockage in the outside venting. It still takes a long time to dry, more than 80 minutes.

So my question is...does anyone know what this might be? Lint trapped somewhere? Is it likely to start a fire? Do I have any basis on insisting that they send a real repair man to look at it?

And...any advice on the best way to put out a dryer fire? lol. I hate to think it will come to that but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Would a regular fire extinguisher work?


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This sounds very familiar, except for the comparison of the charred remains. My scenario was a burning rubber smell. Instead of regurgitating my worry, find and fix, see the link below (it went off topic pretty quickly, makes entertaining reading though).

Here is a link that might be useful: Dryer - Smelling burning rubber - Danger!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 9:46PM
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You probably have lint built up inside the dryer as well as throughout the vent. You're going to have to clean it out.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 10:18PM
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Similar to what Weedmeister said, you have lint built up in the interior of the machine. I have seen where lint covering the floor of the dryer has caught fire, burned briefly, then extinguished itself. Generally the lint build up is caused due to bad venting where the vent pipe is not properly connected causing lint to be pulled back into the dryer. A layer of this lint will build up on the base and around the burner. at one point there may be enough build up to ignite from the burner.
The only way to take care of it is to remove the back of the dryer and vacuum out the lint.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 12:52PM
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You may be on the verge of a serious catastrophe. I suspect the solution will likely be simple, as others have suggested. However, DO NOT ignore this and let it go "until there's a problem". That problem may be a fire.

Never mind the complex's careless handy-man and his "dryer works fine" notes. Get to the super and DEMAND the situation be properly examined and corrected. Properly working and vented dryers do NOT smell like smoke.....EVER.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 11:44PM
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I called them again yesterday and voiced my concerns and threw around the word "fire" a lot, which seemed to get their attention more. She said they would be over again this morning and look at it more thoroughly and if they can't figure it out, I'll get a new one. So I guess that's a start but I still don't trust them.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 6:46AM
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