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What Causes the Burning Smell from a Washer?

Oleg Chudnovski, CEO

Technically Reviewed by Oleg Chudnovski, CEO on Mar 18, 2024 | Written by Olga Larina

Authorized repair service for most home appliance manufacturers

The burning smell from a clothes washer is one of the worst problems for a washer because it can potentially ruin your clothes and even cause harm through electrical problems and even fire danger. Our team of qualified professional appliance repairmen can troubleshoot why the washer smells like burning and fix the problem before it gets any worse. 

In this article, we will examine the most common reasons that cause the burning smell from a washer:

  • Belt Friction: A burning smell and overheating might be brought on by wear or misalignment.
  • Electrical problems: Faulty wiring or overheating can cause a burning odor.
  • Pump Belt Issues: Wear or damage can cause friction and overheating, emitting a burning odor.
  • Motor Pulley Friction: Burning smell and overheating may result from damage or misalignment.

We will also offer some easy DIY fixes for troubleshooting the issue.

Reasons Why Your Washing Machine Smells Burnt

The moving parts of a washer tend to wear out or can become fouled and loose, causing unwanted friction and a washer that smells like burning plastic while it is running. The moving components of the washer can be checked for signs of washer burning smell and then diagnosed to fix the problem. Some of the most common causes for a burning smell from a washer are listed below:

Belt Friction

One of the most common and easiest causes to check for if you are experiencing a burning smell from your washer is the belt friction against the washer tub. Some washers have a rubber coupler between the transmission and the motor that takes a beating. If there is no agitation or spin and the burning smell from the washer is like rubber, the belt may need to be checked for fraying, splitting, and replacement.

Electrical Problems

Burning smells are not all created equal. If the burning smell coming from the washer is electrical, not rubber-scented, this may indicate water leaking onto electrical components and causing a shortage or sparking.

Pump Belt Issues

On some washing machine models, the water pump requires a rubber belt to drive the drain pump. The belt itself is usually in the shape of a V and comes from the motor to the drain pump pulley, where it operates to open and close the drain pump. If the washer burning smell comes from the drain, you should inspect the pump belt for issues or damage.

Motor Pulley Friction

Since the pulley is designed to be in contact with the belts that connect the washer motor to the washer drum and drains, friction is inevitable. However, if the motor pulley connected to any one of the components of the washer becomes fouled, stuck, or jammed, it can create too much friction and heat that can cause a washer-burning smell.

Motor Pulley Friction

Actions to Take for a Burning Smell Coming From the Washer

The actions that you can take for a burning smell coming from the washer are fairly easy and require you to unplug the machine and then either tilt it onto its back to get access to the underside or open the top lid to get access to the components around the washer drum. Some of the easiest actions to take cause of why your washer smells like burning are listed below:

Check and Replace the Belt

The belt for the washer drum can be accessed by tipping the washer on its side and looking up from the bottom. The motor and transmission may also have a rubber coupler that could be checked during this inspection as well. If you see that the rubber belt or coupler is frayed, worn, or broken, you must buy a new belt and replace the old one.

Washer Leaking on Electrical

The best thing you can do as an action for a washer that smells like burning from electrical problems is to unplug the washer and call a professional electrician or appliance repair person.

If you can open the top lid of the washer with a sparkling knife or flathead screwdriver and then spot where the water may be spilling onto the electrical components, you may be able to address the leak. The most common action that you can take is to patch or replace the water intake or drain tubing that goes into the washtub. Look for any damage or tubing that is missing.

Replace or Reposition the Pump Belt

The small pump belt that connects the motor to the drain pump hole may need to be repositioned or replaced. The belt runs from the motor and can fray or break due to the use and age of the belt. If you see any damage, replace the belt.

The belt can also dislodge from the pulley system that holds it in place, generating friction that imparts a burning smell to the washer. In such instances, rectifying the situation is straightforward – repositioning the belt onto the channel of the pulley.

Clean or Replace Pulleys

Pulleys are designed to withstand the friction from the belts connected to the washer’s motor. However, if they incur damage, wear, or accumulate excessive dirt hindering smooth movement, they can contribute to a burning odor.

Accessible from the underside of the washer, pulleys serve as enclosures for the belts as they navigate around the washer tub or toward the drains. Endeavor to clear them of any debris. Nevertheless, if you observe rubber fragments or dust beneath the washer during movement, it may be prudent to replace both the pulleys and belts.

Clean or Replace Pulleys

Trust FIX Appliances CA For All Your Washing Machine Repair Needs

The highly trained and experienced professionals at FIX Appliances CA are known for great customer service, honest quotes, fast and friendly service and experienced repair team in Toronto and the GTA. Save yourself from damage and wasted time by contacting us to troubleshoot and fix the washer that smells like burning.

The advantages of working with the FIX Appliances CA are:

  • 18+ years of experience with all types of appliances
  • Free house call with a repair
  • Fast and reliable service
  • Authorized repair service center
  • HomeStars Best of the Best ’23
  • Over 1277 positive reviews

Taking a few minutes can save you money and time, so contact us on our washing machine service page or by calling 888-242-0777. Our friendly reps are waiting to take your call and help you get started on repairing your appliance!

Date of page creation: July 05, 2020

Page update date: March 18, 2024


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Kenmore Dryer Repair
March 22, 2024

Initially started with the e-mail. Few minutes later company called me to fix the appointment. Couple of hours later we’ll mannered young man called Ilia showed up and fixed my washing machine in less than 45 minutes . I had spinning problem. Everything happened within few hours. Wow... Excellent service. Knowledgeable technician. What else we customers need more than this. I am very satisfied. Will recommend to my friends and family without doubt.

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FAQ: Top Frequently Asked Questions

This issue often arises due to excessive friction within the washer's drum assembly. It can be caused by worn-out bearings, a damaged drive belt, or foreign objects stuck in the drum. Addressing this problem promptly is crucial to prevent further damage.
No, it is not safe to continue using the washer if you detect a burning smell. The smell indicates a potential issue with the washer's components, such as the motor, belts, or wiring. Continuing to use it could lead to more significant problems and even pose a fire risk. Unplug the washer and have it inspected and repaired by a professional.
To prevent a burning smell, make sure not to overload the washer with too many clothes. Use the recommended amount of detergent and the appropriate type for your washer. Regularly clean the lint filter and check for foreign objects in the drum. Additionally, schedule periodic maintenance checks to identify and address any potential issues before they worsen.

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