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What's this burning smell coming from our clothes dryer?
October 6, 2007 10:35 AM   Subscribe

There's a burning smell coming from our GE electric clothes dryer. Anything a layman can do to troubleshoot and fix it?

The clothes are drying and from what I can tell the vent is not blocked. I don't know how to describe the smell except for 'burning', and the last load of clothes we pulled out of it were dry but smelled like ugly death. My girlfriend bought the machine new in 1995.

Any suggestions appreciated, as we don't really have the funds to call in a repairman - or to replace the bastard.
posted by item to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
sometimes if some rubber or something like that gets stuck in the dryer somewhere it can burn and make that smell...
posted by joeblough at 10:45 AM on October 6, 2007


Get those special lint-cleaning wands and clean out the lint area and the exhaust hose.
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2007


Dryers are pretty simple machines to fix. They don't have that many parts - we fix ours all of the time. You will be shocked at how little the parts cost and how easy they are to replace. Our last repair cost us $25, but would have cost a couple of hundred dollars with a repair person.

First, I'd either order this manual or see if a local appliance parts place has it.

You can also post a question here or here. Folks there are pretty helpful.

Good luck!
posted by Flakypastry at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and that smell is probably the belt that goes around the drum starting to die. You'll need another person around to stabilize the drum while you replace it.
posted by Flakypastry at 11:34 AM on October 6, 2007


It would be good to pull it away from the wall and take off the back access panel and take a look. Perhaps some critter got in there and is being cooked?
posted by lockle at 12:03 PM on October 6, 2007


I bet you have a hole somewhere, and lint buildup is now touching a hot part of the dryer. Should be easy to take the back panel off and at least have a look.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2007


I just finished taking my shop-vac to the insides of the thing - there was indeed a good amount of buildup of lint around the motor and what I assume to be the heating coils. After I wipe some of the dust off my face, I'll put the back back on, start 'er up, and give a full report.
posted by item at 1:00 PM on October 6, 2007


Presumably you know this, but it bears repeating: unplug it before you open it up.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:02 PM on October 6, 2007


Argh. Started smelling really burn-y after being on for around one minute. Definitely not a burning lint smell - more like a mutant machine/rubber mix.

When I opened up the back, the only belt I could see didn't look like it was the source of the problem, but dammit I'm no repairman. Any other suggestions?
posted by item at 1:10 PM on October 6, 2007


Thanks, Stephen. I did unplug it and was careful to not touch anything that looked like it could hold a charge.
posted by item at 1:11 PM on October 6, 2007


Make sure the belt rollers are lubricated. Household oil, not WD-40 or something which won't last, but even household oil isn't good enough for the long run. The belt may be running past a stuck roller.
posted by dhartung at 2:40 PM on October 6, 2007


I turned it on with the back open and the vent disconnected and let it run for a few minutes this time. A bunch more lint shot out, and after a minute or two the smell went away. Looks like cleaning the insides out did the trick. Thanks!
posted by item at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2007


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