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Question DetailsAsked on 1/9/2014

we just had our dryer vents cleaned, and the house smells like smoke. Is this normal?

The vent cleaning service person said that it would smell like something burning. The dryer smells so bad we don't want to use it. Any insight appreciated.

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

If only for a 30 seconds or so when first run, not an issue - when you clean a dryer you invariably knock a few bits of lint down into the coil or burner area, which then scorches and ashes when the coil (or gas flame) first heats up. Generally, except for those first few seconds when loose bits of lint in the dryer gets scorched, you should not smell anything inside. Outside you might smell, for 10-30 minutes or so, a hot musty smell like when a furnace is first kicked on in the fall and you smell a hot dust smell on the radiators or from the forced air heater ducts, but that smell should be coming out of the exhaust outside, not strong in the house unless your outside vent air is coming right back in through an open window or door, and should not be strong for more than a minute or two.

If this is a continuing smell, then something is wrong - possibly they knocked a slab of lint off the duct and it is now blocking the exhaust - the other possibility is they knocked the duct loose or kinked it in cleaning, so it is now not exhausting the hot air out the vent. Another possibility, if they disassembled the back of the dryer to clean lint out of it (which should be done for a thorough job) they may have knocked a blob down into the fan and stalled it out, knocked some loose tht is burning on the motor or belts, or knocked a seal loose that fell into the heating element and is burning. Either way, I would call them back and require they inspect the duct and the dryer for signs of burning and fix any damage - at no extra charge.

One possibility that would NOT be their fault, which happened to me one - a rubber band had gonethrough the dryer by accident, went through the seal at the back of the drum, and got hung up there. When I cleaned the dryer it came loose and fell into the drive mechanicsm,where it melted and smoked from friction when I tested the dryer. Occasionally something like this or a pice of crayon or plastic button will fall into a plade in cleaning that makes it burn, which is just one of those things that happens and is not really anyone's fault, as you would not find it unless you disassembled the dryer most of the way.

If you are able to, you could do a couple of things initially:

1) if you can see into the duct with a bright flashlight, look for any blockage.

2) run dryer on air-only or fluff setting (no heat) a bit and feel at the outlet if you are getting what feels like full air flow - if not, a blockage. Airflow should be at least as strong as your car airvent flow at full fan setting when you holdyour hand about 4-6 inches in front of it.

If you don't trust them to get it right, call an appliance repairman to inspect it and locate the cause, document it with cellphone picutres and notes on repairman's work order, then demand payment from cleaning company for the repair. Course, no guarantee they will pay up, but the peace of mind might be worth it - your general run of the mill vent and duct cleaners tend to not be the brightest or most motivated people (though of course some are very consientious), so you might trust a repairman more, and he is certainly more qualified to identify the problem. Cost about $100 plus or minus about $40.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Doess it smell when the dryer is running? No it should not, if it's when the dryer is running, I would turn it off, and call them back.

Did they pull the dryer from the wall to clean, or just do it from the outside??

Be careful, vent fires are dangerous!!!


Answered 6 years ago by BayAreaAC


Thank you LCD and Bayarea. I'm so happy that I found this forum. LCD, I appreciate all of the time that you spent on a thorough, clear picture of the process. Bayarea, your comments are very helpful.

Answered 6 years ago by 1960

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