Burnt Dryer vent

Dryer Vent Looks Burnt? – Reasons & Prevention

Dryer vents being burnt is a very common occurrence and your first reaction will be to panic, but remember to stay calm. In most cases, a burnt dryer vent does not necessarily mean it’s a fire hazard.

However, if you smell a burning odor coming from the dryer vent, it might be the early sign of a fire accident, and you might need to call the experts immediately.

Burnt Dryer Vents – An Overview

You may suddenly notice that the vent inside your dryer or the heat inlet grill has a blackish or brownish hue. It is natural to start panicking as house fires caused by dryers are pretty common in the United States.

But this discoloration or residue is not necessarily a fire hazard nor does it indicate any functional problems with your dryer. There are a few reasons behind a burnt-looking dryer vent which we will elaborate on.

Hot and humid air is exhausted by dryer vents after every load of laundry. The moist air flows through the vent duct and is harmlessly exhausted.

Due to the heat in the exhaust, your dryer vent may appear a little burnt or discolored sometimes which is normal. In most cases, this is not a major issue but rather a product of the dryer being used.

Still, it is understandable to be concerned. So to ease your worries, the causes, and prevention of a burnt-looking dryer vent are discussed here. Let’s get started.

The Vent Inside Your Dryer Or The Heat Inlet Grille: Before tackling the causes and the prevention of this problem, it is important to get to know your dryer a little better. Every standard dryer comes with two vents on the back wall of the inside of your dryer. One is situated on the left and the other is on the right.

The vent in question here is the heat inlet grille or the vent on the left. This is the vent that often appears to be burnt.

It carries the heat from the heating element of your dryer to the main compartment, that is the drum.

Then the drum moves around, tossing your clothes and drying them. A dryer can function safely and efficiently with the combination of appropriate heat and movement of the clothes.

The Vent Inside Your Dryer

Causes Of A Burnt Looking Dryer Vent:

The burnt like residue on your dryer vent can be caused by multiple situations:

Color runoff from clothes: It isn’t uncommon for some clothes to release color while they are in the dryer. This could be a possible reason for your dryer vent appearing burnt as the discharged color can set on the heat inlet grille and seem burnt.

Normal wear and tear: Due to regular usage it is normal to have some wear and tear in your dryer, especially near the vent. Any wear or tear can appear as a burnt mark which may need closer inspection.

Burnt Dryer Vent

High heat:

Your dryer releases a high heat while drying every batch of clothes. The temperature can reach up to 167 degrees Fahrenheit for some dryers.

So a discoloration or a burnt mark is not an uncommon sight.

Plating removed by heat: Much like the previous cause, the finish or plating of your heat inlet grille may be burnt, leaving a dark brown or blackish residue.

Melted foreign objects: Sometimes any foreign object that might have been attached to your clothes can come off and over time, melt due to the high heat. The melted object may accumulate on the grill of your vent, giving it that burnt look.


Using a liquid fabric softener on one hundred percent cotton clothes can lead to your garments getting overheated.

This overheating may deposit burnt residue in your dryer vent.

garments getting overheated

Prevention of Burning

Now that we have taken a look at the causes for your dryer vent or grill to appear burnt, let’s have a look at the solutions. These are simple and easy to follow so let’s get started.

1. Try to check your laundry before putting them in the washer or dryer for any objects that might be on them. If there are any small objects in the pockets of your clothes that you may have forgotten, they will melt and deposit on your vent.

This burnt or melted object can even damage your laundry. Besides these objects can sometimes get jammed in your dryer so it is best to check inside your clothes before doing laundry.

2. Try not to overheat your dryer. An overheated dryer can lead to accidents or fire hazards and may even totally stop your dryer from working so it is suggested to not overuse it. You can prevent your dryer from overheating by cleaning the drum of your dryer thoroughly and making sure that the dryer cord doesn’t have knots or kinks.

3. In most cases your dryer vent looks burnt due to the high heat around it that causes the plating to come off. So the discoloration is not and unfortunately, there is no way to completely stop this from happening.

What you can do is replace your heat inlet grill with a new one but it is mentionable that the finish of the new grill will also come off over time. There are many aesthetically pleasing vents or grills available in the market such as metal or chrome so it won’t be a tough job to find a new one.

You just have to keep changing it periodically if you don’t want your dryer vent to appear burnt. This is the best and most effective solution to a burnt-looking grill.

Precautionary Warning

If your dryer vent is looking a little burnt, note the precautions mentioned here and your problem should be solved. However, it is very important to distinguish between a burnt-looking dryer vent and a burnt smell coming from your dryer.

If that is the case and you smell a burning odor, it may be a cause for concern- perhaps even a fire hazard. The burnt smell can be caused by a number of things like a clogged lint catcher, any tear in the ductwork, crushed or pinched vent among others.

If you have checked these and the smell persists, it is highly possible there may be a problem with the electrical components of your dryer that needs to be checked. Don’t try to do it yourself but instead call professional help since it is a risky and intricate undertaking and may lead to fire accidents.


It is always good to check on your dryer and make sure there is enough ventilation for the hot air and moisture to freely flow out of your house. It is also suggested to clean your dryer drum once in a while as it helps in preventing your dryer from overheating which, in turn, prevents fire breakouts and your dryer vent doesn’t look burnt.

A little negligence can lead to a multitude of accidents with appliances such as your dryer so it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Hopefully, this guide has answered all your questions and worries. So the next time your dryer looks a little burnt, the causes and prevention mentioned here will have you covered!

I am a cleaning enthusiast and a writer for renowned cleaners guide sites. I am the Chief Executive Officer for All-City Janitorial and All-City Duct Cleaning. This is where I write about my exploits in detail to share my experience with everyone.

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