Why your Washing Machine may be Smoking Inside

Washers save you a lot of effort and time when you have to do your laundry.

And this is not just a one-off benefit, with a good quality brand, you can almost be sure of 10 years or more of reliable service.

When you see smoke coming from the inside of your washer or there is a burning smell, you have every reason to be concerned.

It is not only because there is a good chance that you may need to invest in another washing machine, but there is also the possibility of a fire and damage to your property.

The good news is, depending on the nature of the fault, you may be able to fix it yourself.

So, in this guide, I share with you what you should do should you see smoke coming from inside the washer, common causes why you may have smoke, and where possible, point you to what to look out for in order to fix the fault efficiently.

What to Do if the Washing Machine is Smoking

#1. Switch off the washer’s supply immediately as a first step. Remove the plug from the wall receptacle to completely isolate the washer from the grid supply.

This is necessary to prevent more damage should it be an electrical problem and avoid the risk of an electric shock.

#2. Inspect the cable along its length for any physical signs of damage.

If there is any damage, then arrange to replace it with another of the same size.

Also, inspect the top plug and check for any burning smell.

Sometimes, loose cable connections in the top plug can cause sparks, heating, and a burning smell.

This can usually be fixed by replacing it with a new top plug and making new cable connections depending on the extent of the fault.

#3. Check if the washer is draining properly. If not, you may have a jammed drain pump.

Check your washer’s owner manual on how you may be able to remove the jam.

#4. Does the washer make any squealing noises as the drum rotates? This may be a sign that the bearings are worn.

How to move forward depends on the washer design and model.

It is best at this point to consult the washer’s troubleshooting guide or consult a service technician to have to inspect and advise on the best way forward.

3 Common Reasons Why you may have Smoke in the Washing Machine

If you have a burning smell from the washer, this may be caused by:

#1. If the washer drum is loose or wobbly possibly because of a worn bearing(s) or broken spider assembly then during the spin cycle, it may rub against the door gasket.

When rubbing motion of the drum against the gasket at high speed generates heat which burns the rubber hence the burning smell.

You are more likely to find this with washers that have been in service and been subjected to some wear and tear for several years than with a new washer.

#2. Stuck drain pump. It is also possible that the drain pump of your washer is stuck, probably there is a piece of cloth that is jamming it.

The motor driving the pump then heats up – it is energized yet not able to turn hence the burning smell.

When this happens, your washer will not drain.

#3. Worn bearings or belts. Has the washer been in service for several years?

This is more likely to be an issue for washers that have been in use for several years.

If your washer is belt-driven, a worn belt that is slipping during the wash or spin cycle can also cause a burning smell from the heat buildup.

It could also be because the bearings are worn.

To fix this efficiently, you’ll likely need to take the washer apart, so it is best that you consult the washer’s owner manual.

Also, you can consult service and support for guidance on how to do this or call in a qualified service technician.

Related Questions

#1. What Can Cause a Burning smell in a Washing machine?

If you have a burning smell coming from the washing machine, this may be caused by an electrical fault – such as loose cable connections in the top plug that spark or a damaged and shorting cable.

The smell of new rubber hoses can also be mistaken for a burning smell.

This is common with new washers where the rubber hoses can give off a strong odor that may give the impression of burning.

To confirm that the smell is from the new rubber hoses, you may do one of two things:

  • smell the hose before you power on the machine. The goal here is to confirm if the smell is coming from the hose.

If it is, then there is no need to worry.

  • Alternatively, you can power on the washer, and let it fill but stop it before it starts the washing cycle.

Check if the smell is still there.

If it is even before the motors have started moving then likely it is coming from the newness of the rubber and will fade with time.

#2. Can a Washer Catch Fire?

Yes, it is possible for a washing machine to burn out, and give off smoke, and the awful smell of burnt plastic or rubber.

Indeed, there are reports of such incidents on record. For example, according to a research report by the National Fire Protection Association, published in 2017, there were over 15,000 fires from a combination of washing machines and clothes dryers each year over the period 2010-2014 that resulted in property damage, injuries, and in some cases death.

The leading cause of fires in washing machine fires was mechanical and electrical failures.

To minimize the risk of this happening, based on the research, avoid:

  • overloading the washing machine,
  • not following recommended installation procedures including but not limited to connecting to the recommended electrical circuit amperage circuit, using the recommended power cord type, proper grounding, and circuit breaker protection.
  • installing the washing machine close to a heat source. Consult the washer installation manual and always follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Also, should you smell anything burning, immediately switch off the power to minimize the damage and contact technical support.

#3. Can a Washing Machine Explode?

Yes, a washing machine can explode. There are verified cases of washing machines exploding usually as a result of a manufacturer defect. In some cases, during the spin cycle, the drum breaks apart, and parts of it including the laundry and forced through the washer casing and across the laundry room.

It is also possible that the washer model may be part of a national recall. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website, https://www.recalls.gov, to check if your washing machine is part of a recall.

Contact the washing machine manufacturer when this happens.

#4. What Causes a Burning Rubber Smell during the Spin Cycle?

The burning smell is probably from the rubber door seal that keeps the soapy water inside the washer.

If the seal is misaligned and parts of it get into contact with the spinning drum or also, the drum is loosely connected and rubs against the properly fixed seal in this case then the friction can give off the burnt rubber smell.

Check that the door seal and the drum are properly fixed. Do not hesitate to contact a qualified washing machine technician for support. and that the

Final Word

If you see smoke coming out of the washing machine, switch off the machine immediately for safety reasons.

Possible causes of the smoke that you can look out for are a loose or wobbly drum, worn bearings or belts if your washer has one, or a stuck drain pump.

Do not hesitate to contact technical support for your washer also.

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