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My Dryer Gets Very Hot & Smells Burned

Terri Williams

The typical clothes dryer accounts for six percent of the total electricity expended in an American home, making it one of the most expensive household appliances, according to the California Energy Commission. And, when the dryer is not operating at optimal performance, this inefficiency results in greater energy consumption and higher energy costs. In addition, a dryer that gets very hot and smells bad may be a warning sign. There are 15,500 clothes-dryer-related fires yearly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission projects that every year these fires are responsible for 10 deaths, 310 injuries, and over 84 million dollars in property damage.


Extreme temperature and a burning smell may lead to a dryer fire.

An accumulation of lint can hinder ventilation and make the dryer very hot. In addition, Dryer Help warns that the burning smell may be small participles of lint catching on fire inside the dryer. These small lint fires may also leave unpleasant odors in your clothes. Inspect the lint trap and remove any accumulations. As a general rule, lint traps should be cleaned out after every drying cycle.

Air Flow

Obstructed airflow may also result in an excessively hot dryer and a burnt smell. Examine the vent hose on the back of the dryer to ensure that it is properly connected and is free from kinks and tears. If everything appears to be in order, remove the vent hose and look inside of it to determine if there is any lint or debris. Also check the dryer vent outside to ensure there is nothing blocking it.


A faulty thermostat may be the culprit behind a burning smell in an overly hot dryer. According to ACME, sometimes a defective thermostat may prevent the activation of the dryer’s heat. However, in other instances, a faulty thermostat may cause the dryer’s heater to stay on continuously. If the temperature reaches an unsafe level, the thermal fuse should shut off the thermostat. If you don’t have a multitester to test the condition of the thermostat, and if you are not comfortable disconnecting wires from the thermostat’s terminals, call a repairman to perform this function.

Other Considerations

A problem with the heating element could also account for the burnt smell and hot dryer. There may be a short in the heating coil. Depending on the model of your dryer, you may have to replace the entire heating compartment or you may only need to replace the coil. In addition, worn drum seals may also produce smells and a hot dryer. Appliance Aid warns that fabric softener sheets contain chemicals that produce a gas smell, and the sheets block lint filters, which raises the dryer’s temperature.