Horrible smell when I run my electric clothes dryer

Old 08-24-18, 09:48 PM
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Horrible smell when I run my electric clothes dryer

I'm so desperate, I really hope someone here can help. I can't take this smell anymore, it's literally making me miserable. Basically the issue is that when I run my dryer there's a horrible smell in my bedroom. My bedroom shares a wall with the laundry closet. However the issue is that it's not actually coming from the dryer. I can go and stick my face right by the dryer or behind it or inside and I don't smell the smell one single bit. So I thought maybe the smell was from the dryer vent which goes up the wall, through the attic, and out the roof. I hired someone to come clean the dryer vent but the smell is still occurring. My hunch is that it's electrical. The laundry closet is right out side my bedroom and the breaker panel is in my bedroom closet, so maybe the wiring is running across my room to the breaker panel and it's burning. It's hard to describe the smell. I don't know what a dead animal would smell like, but it really is the most god awful smell to ever permeate my nostrils. It not really a burning smell, but I guess it could be. I mean it doesn't smell like fire or any type of burning smell I'm familiar with. The issue is sort of intermittent. It's been going on two months now so I sort of have a pattern down. If I don't run the dryer for a few days and then run it, I will smell it. The smell is strongest on when the dryer is set to high heat. Like it's REALLY bad if I put the dryer on high heat. If the dryer is on low heat I can still smell it but not anywhere close to the the intensity when it's on high. But sometimes I don't smell it at all.

Here's an example that occurred recently. I ran the dryer and the smell was unusually intense so I called my dad to come over and smell it so I could see if he could tell what it might be. The dryer was on high heat this time. So after I called him I went and turned it to low heat and the smell stopped. So by the time he got here the smell was gone. I went and turn the dryer back on high heat and for the next couple of hours that I was doing laundry I didn't smell anything. But a couple days later when my room mate did laundry it smelled again.

I asked my landlord if he could get an electrician to come inspect the wiring, but he said it can't be electrical because if it was the breaker would flip off. I don't really know anything about wiring or breakers, but it seems to me that if there's a problem with the wiring it would make sense that the breaker isn't functioning properly. I just don't know what else it could be. The only other thing would be a dead animal, but I just can't figure out why it would only smell when the dryer runs. Anyway, sorry for the long post. Thanks in advance for any help.
Old 08-24-18, 10:00 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

This should be in the appliances forum. Is this a gas or electric dryer ? Once determined.... I'll move it.
I severely doubt it's a wiring problem.
Old 08-24-18, 10:01 PM
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It's electric. It's on a 240v circuit.
Old 08-24-18, 10:02 PM
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Being a rental, you're kind of stuck because you can't open up the wall to look where I suspect something is being bother by the heat in the exhaust vent.

Stay on the landlord but start looking for a new place.
Old 08-25-18, 04:51 AM
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I would suspect a break in vent in the wall. Some company's have a camera they can run in vent to see what is happening.
Old 08-25-18, 06:02 AM
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Not all electrical problems will trip a breaker.
Old 08-25-18, 06:23 AM
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You referred to it as a "laundry closet", sounds small. With the door closed the dryer might be struggling to pull in enough air to equal the air exhausted. Inside that common wall there may be a sewer vent pipe problem that becomes the source of that replacement air.

Try running the dryer with the door open if it is normally closed.

Sorry haven't yet read all of your post and I have to run, later.

Old 08-25-18, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by taxidriver1138
Basically the issue is that when I run my dryer there's a horrible smell in my bedroom. My bedroom shares a wall with the laundry closet.
Quick guess - newer building that is high efficiency and air-tight?
The dryer is pushing ALOT of air out of the apartment.
If you are in a "modern" airtight condo or apartment, then the dryer is pushing "x cubic feet of air"
OUT, which means you are sucking "x cubit feet of air" back in somewhere.
If there is a window or soffit vent, you might simply be pulling the dryer-vented air back IN from somewhere.

First guess is that a mouse was electrocuted in the dryer, that's why high heat makes it worse. The dryer is pushing the baked mouse smell OUT, and somehow pulling that air back through the bedroom. Could also be that somebody spilled detergent on the dryer, which dripped down into the heating system, so you are smelling the burnt-sour-smell of charred soap.

Second guess is that high/low heat isn't really the problem, but the house is air tight and the dryer is pushing air out the vent, but pulling replacement air down the sewer vent .
Old 08-26-18, 08:53 AM
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Just some thoughts. You could ask the landlord how he figures electrical fires get started when the breaker triggers every time there is a problem. The answer is: the breaker does not trigger every time one has an electrical problem. A breaker triggers when there is a short. More correctly when the electrical current increases above the breaker cut off, which almost always happens when there is a short. Electrical fires rarely start because of an electrical short. They start because the wire carrying the current becomes insufficient. For example if a mouse ate away at a wire that had a specific diameter and cut into that wire and reduced the wires diameter, then when the appliance is turned on the wire is now insufficient to carry that power. The current is probably now reduced by that cut and therefore the breaker would not break. BUT, the wire will heat up tremendously where that cut has happened and if some wood or other flammable fibres are nearby, poof, you now have an electrical fire.

If it was a dead mouse, even one laying on top of the dryers vent pipe, it will eventually stop smelling. It can go on for many days and is very nasty, but will stop eventually. Decomposition has a finite life to it.

My guess is what the other posters have said. There is probably a vent pipe for a water drain, in that wall, or the nasty air is being pulled from some other sewer source when the dryer is run. This could be proven by opening a crack in a window nearby when you run the dryer and if you do not smell it then, this is probably the cause. The dryer would probably draw its air from the open window before some drain pipe. You could also disconnect the exit pipe at the back of the dryer and run it to verify that it is coming from when air goes through that pipe as opposed to the dryer itself. Now running a dryer without the vent connected will push humidity and lint into the house and of course heat. Many people do this and they will use pantyhose or stockings over the vent to catch the lint and then enjoy the extra humidity and heat during the winter.

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