Why does the dryer smoke? (Answered)

The most common cause of a smoking dryer is a buildup of lint in the venting system. When excess lint is accumulated and comes in contact with hot components of the dryer unit, such as the heating element, it can cause a fire.

Key Takeaways

  • There can be many factors involved and the most common factor is lint buildup to the screen and venting areas.
  • Lint is highly combustible and can easily ignite, causing a fire and smoke.
  • The lint screen and exhaust vent can both accumulate lint.
  • It’s important to clean the dryer and perform regular maintenance activities to reduce the risk of a fire.
  • Other causes for a smoking dryer can be Foreign Objects, Wiring Issues, or even Vent Blockage.
  • Before performing any troubleshooting check if the dryer is still under warranty as you may easily void the warranty by doing self-troubleshooting.

Why does the dryer smoke?

As we are all aware, unusual smoke released from the dryer is not at all a good sign and can be hazardous.

You need to figure out if the dryer is leaking smoke or just steam.

Of course, you should turn off the dryer as soon as you notice the smoke.

When you turn on your dryer, the heat generated inside causes steam to form while dealing with moisture on the garments.

It may happen that the dryer is leaking hot air or steam from the door or other related areas.

So, you can try to tell from the color or smell of the smoke that has been released from the dryer.

Usually, if something is burning due to excessive heat, such as wires, or if it is due to parts rubbing together, the smoke usually appears dark.

If it was a leak, simply get it fixed before you resume the dry cycle.

If not, then simply scroll down to hold on to the culprit.

Let us look into the various factors that can lead to a smoking dryer.

Lint Build ups

Lint usually builds up on the lint screen and the venting system or exhaust duct.

Simply check the lint screen and remove any lint that may have built up.

Apart from the lint screen, it’s also a good idea to clean out the venting system to ensure that there is no blockage.

Incorrect Cycle

Make sure you have selected the correct cycle to dry a specific garment at the temperature set.

Some garments are not suitable for drying with excess heat.

It may happen that, instead of no heat, you have selected the highest temperature by error.

This can lead to damage to the garment when in contact with excess heat.

Stuck Objects

Mistakes happen, so check to see if you dropped something in the machine by accident that shouldn’t be heated, like a piece of plastic or rubber.

It could have snuck in under your clothes and into the dryer’s drum.

These objects can melt under excess heating conditions and get stuck to the drum surfaces or to your clothes, causing smoke.

Rubbing parts

There are several sealing strips made of rubber or similar materials.

Due to misalignment or loosened grooves, it can happen that they start rubbing against the neighboring components.

If it happens repeatedly, then it will start releasing a burning smell from the dryer during operation.

Broken components 

It can be a broken drum that’s rubbing against another object sitting inside.

Alternatively, it can be the drive belts that are misaligned and rubbing against the surface, causing smoke during operation.

Burnt Motor

It is not always the case, but there is a possibility that the drive motor has become faulty.

Drive motors can fail due to overheating or when used way beyond their capacity.

Yes, under such extreme pressure, a motor will likely burn out, causing excess smoke.

These motors are difficult to repair and will need a replacement when they fail.

Faulty Electrical wires

Another possibility of smoke is faulty wiring, sudden faults, or power surges.

In such a situation, always turn off the power to the dryer and determine if the smoke or burning smell is due to melted wires.

So, there are many reasons why the dryer’s electrical wires may overheat and melt, which leads to smoke.

Another reason for melted wires is if the insulation around the wire is damaged or worn out, which can allow heat to build up and cause the wire to melt and release smoke.

However, if the connections between wires are loose, this can also cause overheating. And again, it will start melting and releasing smoke.

It is always best to turn off the power to the dryer and contact a service professional immediately for help.

Heating Element

The heating element itself can become faulty and result in a smoking dryer.

The heating element is what generates heat, especially in electric dryers.

Over time, the heating element may wear out, produce excess heat, or become damaged.

A faulty or damaged heating element, when used, can cause burning and produce smoke.

It’s recommended to replace the heating element as soon as possible to avoid any irreversible damage.

Final Thoughts 

If your dryer is smoking, the first step is to turn off the power supply to the dryer as a safety precaution.

Since these kinds of problems can be dangerous if they are misdiagnosed, they should be looked at and fixed by a trained technician.

Always make sure to clean the lint screen and the venting areas regularly to avoid mishaps.

Lastly, check to see if the dryer is still under warranty before you try to fix it because it’s easy to void the warranty if you self-troubleshoot.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at) portablelaundry.com