GE Dryer Smells Burnt


A burnt smell emanating from your GE clothes dryer can be an alarming revelation. Gas and electric dryers that smell of burnt fabric or chemicals are likely to be in need of immediate maintenance to prevent a dangerous situation including fire and permanent damage to the dryer. Troubleshoot your dryer thoroughly to determine the cause of the smell and address it as soon as possible.

Lint Fires

  • GE recommends that you clean the lint filter before drying each load. The lint filter screen collects lint before exhausting the air from the dryer. Over time, the lint will build in the filter and if left uncleaned, will enter the exhaust tube. The temperature in the exhaust can ignite the lint and cause a burning smell. The more pressing result could be a larger fire inside the dryer's exhaust tubing. Also, a full lint filter will impede the dryer's ability to exhaust the hot air from the dryer's drum. A slow or stopped exhaust will render the dryer less effective at drying laundry as well as pose a significant fire hazard.

Detergent and Fabric Softener

  • Lint is often not the only substance to be captured by the lint filter screen. A collection of heated fabric softener or detergent can gather in the filter's screen. Over time, the build-up of fabric softener will coat the outer frame of the filter and the screen itself. The hot air passing through the lint filter to the exhaust will melt the fabric softener and detergent residue and result in a burnt smell. After the drying cycle is finished, the residue cools and remains fixed to the filter. You can remove the reside with warm or hot water. Clean the lint filter while it is dry to remove the lint before using water to remove the various residues from the screen.

Dryer Belt

  • The dryer belt is made of rubber and surrounds the GE dryer's drum. The dryer's motor shaft powers the belt as it travels through the idler pulley and around the drum to tumble the load. After a while, the belt can become worn and begin to melt against the hot drum and motor shaft, especially when the treads on the underside of the belt have worn off. You should replace the belt when it is worn to prevent it from breaking or burning inside the dryer. One of the first indicators that the belt is in need of replacement is a squeaking sound during the drying cycle. You can replace the GE dryer's belt with a Phillips-head screwdriver and a replacement belt.

Chemicals Near the Dryer

  • The operation of the GE dryer involves taking in air from outside of the dryer, heating it and forcing it into the dryer's drum, then exhausting the heated air through the lint filter and out of the exhaust tubing. Chemicals in close proximity to the dryer can be sucked into the intake and heated to the point where they emit a burning smell. Move all chemicals at least 50 feet away from the dryer to prevent the chemical fumes from entering into the dryer's intake. The risk is particularly important when dealing with gas dryers. Gas GE gas dryers can ignite the chemical fumes and cause a fire.

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