The first thing that will likely help this situation is to do a thorough maintenance and cleaning on your dryer. Dryers give off burning smells when there's too much heat or something has actually burnt. Do you have scorched clothes? That's a sign of overheating. As you follow the steps in this Dryer Maintenance page look for:
- Clogged Lint Filter: Make sure you really clean it as described.
- Charred Lint: This will give a burnt smell to the air that the dryer pulls in and may even make all your clothes smell like they've been near a not very nice campfire. Use a vacuum to clean as recommended.
- Plugged Exhaust Ducts: Both inside and outside the machine, the exhaust ducts need to be clean or you can develop overheating problems which will produce any number of off odors. especially from overheated clothes.
When the maintenance is done, and while you have the machine open, check the next items as well. Doing this is also a good maintenance procedure.
Keep in mind that the burning smell may be something else in the area where the dryer is, such as electrical wiring. So use your nose. If the dryer is the problem, the dryer cabinet or case when opened will probably smell like burning more strongly. Even opening the door to the clothes drum may give you a clue as to the source of the smell.
Did you just dry a very large heavy load? This can lead to a hot motor which may give a burning rubber/ hot electrical smell.
- if that's the case, let the machine rest for a few hours, and see if the smell goes away.
- You may even wan to run it again with only a couple dry towels. The hot smell may have been the motor complaining of overwork. Letting it run lightly loaded may allow the smell to dissipate.
- Observe carefully the next time you run it with a normal load. It could also be that the motor is damaged, or that the centrifugal switch on the motor has failed causing it to overheat. If this goes on (or has gone on) repeatedly skip down to Motor
- Clothes like socks in the blower housing can make it hard for the motor to turn and cause the motor to overheat. Since you cleaned it in the first step this shouldn't be a problem, as you should have removed anything like that.
If the cycling thermostat fails on your dryer (it's the one that controls the temperature that the dryer maintains) the dryer can run very hot, and may give a burning smell. Here's links to some more information about your dryer overheating:
Drive Belt Failure
If you smell a "rubbery" or "plastic" smell you should check your drive belt tension. A loose drive belt can be slipping on the motor pulley and getting hot. If you find that condition, replacing the belt is probably a good idea.
It might also be an idler pulley that has a failed bearing, and the belt is literally sliding on the pulley because it won't spin. In this case sometimes the pulley itself will melt or be grooved from the friction. If you find that, you should replace both the belt and the pulley assembly.
Here's a link to some information on belt tension and inspecting the drive system. If the belt is okay, move on to the next item.
If you have checked the above items and found no issues, you may have a motor that is failing, Here's an example from our Answers Forum. It may also be the bearings on the motor that have worn out and make it strain to operate.
- While you are inspecting the belt, you can check to see if the motor bearings are free and smooth and not bound up.
- If they are not, you will need to replace the motor.
The motor also has a centrifugal switch which can fail and cause the motor starting winding to be energized whenever the motor runs, not just starts. This winding will usually burn out, and you will smell it. Here's more Electric Dryer Not Heating. It is part of a page about your dryer not heating, but is still useful.
Control Board Failure
Less likely but still possible is the failure of a control board in the dryer. Likely, this would be accompanied by the dryer not working properly, so it is a long shot.