Finishing in garage made my dryer stink

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Forum topic by BinghamtonEd posted 09-15-2015 05:24 PM 528 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2263 posts in 1791 days

09-15-2015 05:24 PM

So I just finished putting the final coat of Arm-R-Seal on a table I made. It was 6 wiped on coats over the coarse of 4 days. I finish in the garage, which, in our split-entry, is located right next to the laundry room. A few days ago, my wife makes the comment that the clothes coming out of the dryer have a weird smell to them. Sure enough, they have a faint smell of burnt camping fuel. I step outside where the dryer vents, I smell it there, too. I open up the dryer as its running, and it smells strongly in there. Not having time to tear the dryer apart, I unplug it, and we stop using it for the time being.

Doing my research, one of the things that comes up time and time again, is that dryers (gas and electric), can produce a kerosene-like smell when run in an environment where oil-based varnishes and paints have recently been used. Apparently, this is a fairly common thing. As the dryer exhausts through the vent, it pulls in fresh air. When the air has vapor from oil-based finishes in it, and hits the heating element, it burns off. Our garage wall has a hole in it that the dryer vent comes through from the laundry room, and runs to the back, out through the garage wall.

So, we’ll air out the house/garage, and monitor it, and see what happens over a few days. I wear a respirator when finishing, and the smell never carries over into our living area, so I had no clue that this could even happen.

Anybody else experience something like this?

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

5 replies so far

View RHaynes's profile


112 posts in 1042 days

#1 posted 09-15-2015 09:18 PM

Oh man, if you blew up that dryer, you are gonna be in SO MUCH TROUBLE. LOL! Never heard of anything like this and am a bit surprised that enough of the finish in the air was able to run into the vent pipe and make contact with the heating element. Probably wouldn’t effect a gas dryer as much. What’s the book price on a new heating element for the dryer? Maybe a flapper valve on the garage side of the vent would be a good idea so that the vent is closed off when it isn’t pumping exhaust air into the garage.

Sorry to hear about your troubles—hope it works out.

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View Tennessee's profile


2410 posts in 1936 days

#2 posted 09-15-2015 09:23 PM

Back in the 80’s, when I was running a refinishing shop in the Pocono’s, we thought we would get smart and put in a wood burner. Worked really well. And the flame would turn purple when we stripped paint, (masked up, of course with MSA respirators), and it would turn red when we sprayed enamel.

We were sucking in fresh air from the cracks in the large garage door, and the fact it was a 28 X 28 wood building and had some other gaps plus we cracked the man door open, so we never worried about fumes inside.
Outside, the chimney would put off a stink that would stop a bird dead in flight, had there been any in the dead of winter.
Probably the same effect…

-- Paul, Tennessee,

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2263 posts in 1791 days

#3 posted 09-16-2015 11:54 AM

RHaynes, I must have done a bad job describing the setup. The exhaust duct from the dryer goes through the wall, into the garage, and then out through the back wall of the garage, outdoors. Nothing is getting sent into the garage. I think the vapors must have just gone in around the exhaust duct or something. Aired everything out, ran it again last night, and it is noticeably decreased, almost gone.

As far as it effecting a gas dryer, actually, most of the complaints were from people with gas dryers. I’d imagine the flame would do just as good, if not better, job of burning off the vapors. Probably has an increased air flow, too.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16808 posts in 2527 days

#4 posted 09-21-2015 12:55 PM

Oh yea. I have had finishing vapors get into the clothes when finishing in my basement shop with the door to the laundry room open and the dryer going. Had to rewash the lot of ‘em!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View poopiekat's profile


4189 posts in 3156 days

#5 posted 09-21-2015 01:14 PM

Yes, the ambient air along with your finishing fumes gets sucked into the dryer, and then into the combustion chamber. This air is directly vented across the clothes and then out of the house through the vent. Resulting in stinky clothes. Until I realized what was going on, I came close to buying a new clothes dryer. Nowadays I will not use solvents for a couple of days before any laundry is done. Polyurethane was the absolute worst!
Indeed, fortunately a rewash of your clothes will get rid of the smell of burnt solvents, paint fumes and the smell of burning rubber!

Thanks, Ed, for reminding people to beware the problems of having a laundry room too close to your basement workshop. I posted a topic similar to this a few years ago; some people just didn’t get it the point.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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