Why-is- My-Sewing-Machine-Smoking-Smells-Like-Burning

Why is My Sewing Machine Smoking? (Smells Like Burning)

Where there is smoke there is not always fire. Sewing machines are like other machines. If they are not well taken care of then just about anything can happen. That includes seeing smoke rise out of your machine. Don’t worry, it is not likely your machine will catch on fire.

Why is my sewing machine smoking? There are several good reasons why your sewing machine may be smoking. One of the most common reasons is that the lubrication is gone and metal parts are rubbing together. Metal on metal heat up and produce smoke.

To learn more about smoke coming from your sewing machine, just continue to read our article. It has the information to keep your fears and worries at bay. Sometimes this issue is a simple fix. Keep reading to find out how to handle the problem.

Sewing Machine Motor Smoking


Another common reason why your sewing machine is smoking has to do with its pulley system. The motor drives the belts etc., and when they get loose or broken then the pulleys do not spin when the motor does. This causes the motor to overwork and burn out.

Once it starts to burn out, you may see smoke coming from your motor. Then if the belts are too tight, the motor will try and try but cannot spin. That means that the motor will burn out due to overwork trying to spin.

This situation also causes smoke to come from your sewing machine motor. The solution to this problem is to lubricate the belt so that it loosens up and begins to turn-taking the pressure off the motor.

Then there is the possibility that you accidentally over oiled the motor and its parts. When this happens the lubrication gets on the hot motor casing and starts to overheat and smoke.

You may have to stop what you are doing, wait for the motor to cool down then wipe away any excess oil you see on the casing and other parts.

Singer Sewing Machine Smoking


Along with the sources already mentioned another common source for a Singer sewing machine to start smoking is that your electrical system shorted out. The cause of this can come from a variety of issues.

First, the wiring was bad and the electricity starts to burn off the protective wire coating. That will cause smoke without damaging your electrical system. A quick check is all that is needed to see if that is taking place.

Also, loose wiring or bad connections can have the wires touching the wrong item causing a short that ends up frying all your wires and other parts. Rewiring is about your only solution here

Don’t try and start your sewing machine once you begin to smell the odor that accompanies burnt wiring. Then there are those unique situations where a small bug or spider was able to crawl inside your sewing machine and touch the wrong wire.

When they do, your sewing machine should get a surge and click the breaker before too much damage is done. All you have to do is clean out the spider or bug from inside your sewing machine and your machine should start back up again.

Sewing Machine Smells Like Burning


It may not smell very good but that foul odor your nose catches is an early warning signal to you. It is telling you that there is something wrong with your sewing machine and you need to turn it off fast.

Don’t worry about losing the odor, it will hang around for a while letting you know the problem did not go away. No this is not the only odor you will smell and that burning smell usually takes place when you have a short in the electrical system.

There are 4 other reasons why your sewing machine may smell. Number one is that you just oiled your machine and what you are smelling is just the new oil heating up. This is not a permanent odor nor is it a dangerous one.

The next time you smell a different odor you may want to check your fabric. That may be the cause of the smell, not the natural fiber fabrics but the synthetic ones. These fake fibers can produce a burning or oil smell to them.

Third, you may own an older sewing machine that does not come with an overheat shutoff feature. If you run your sewing machine along time, your machine will overheat and cast off that odor you dislike so much.

Finally, you may have a loose belt or one that has slipped. When this happens it is easy for the belt to rub against other parts and wear itself down. That rubbing will be the source of your odor, not your electrical system.

Motor Weak


One of the ways to find out if you have a weak sewing machine motor is when you press down on the foot the sewing machine does not get going that fast. To find out if it is the motor or not, you need to turn your handwheel.

As you turn the handwheel, the machine may move stiffly. If that is the case, then the problem is in the machine and not your motor. If the wheel turns freely, then you have a problem with a weak motor.

One of the causes of this weak motor is that there is a lot of debris gathering in or around the motor gumming up the works. To get rid of the debris, you can turn your motor up to its highest speed and let it burn off the debris. This only takes a couple of minutes to do.

If that does not solve your problem, the next source for your weak motor may be in the brushes. If they are worn out or ruined by the debris then this will cause your motor to be weak.

The solution for this issue is to replace the brushes and clean out the debris at the same time.

Sewing Machine Motor Gets Hot

There about 6 reasons why your sewing machine motor heats up and gets hot. Here are those reasons:

  • 1. Ventilation holes are blocked - without an avenue for the heat to escape, the heat stays in the motor adding to the high temperature still coming out of the working motor. This combination of temperatures builds up and heats the motor.
  • 2. You live at a high elevation - the air is thinner the higher you go. Not only does this affect your breathing it also hinders your sewing machine motor from cooling down. If you live abut 3,300 feet above sea level talk to your dealer to see if the motor is rated for that altitude.
  • 3. Your room temperature is too high - this can happen if you do not have air conditioning or the windows are closed for the winter. High room temperatures make it hard for your sewing machine to cool off efficiently.
  • 4. Running an intermittent motor continuously - if the motor is not designed to work in long stretches you run the risk of overheating the motor and ruining it. Intermittent motors are only designed to work for short periods.​
  • 5. You have the wrong power source - if the power source is too low then your motor works harder to keep up with the demand placed on it. You need to check to make sure the power source is sending the correct voltage to the motor to run like it is designed to do.
  • 6. Size matters in sewing - if the motor is too small for the project you are working on, then your motor is going to work too hard and overheat. Small motors also do not get rid of heat very quickly.

A Little Troubleshooting Advice


When your nose picks up that burning smell as you sew, do not panic. That smell while an early warning system is telling you that something is going wrong with your machine. The problems involved are all common and nothing to worry about.

Just check the simple probable causes first. This will save you time and a trip to the repairman. You can clear up simple problems. But if the problem is a belt, burnt out brushes, shorted wires, then you should take your machine to a qualified repairman.

You may find out that all you need to do is unplug your machine for about 20 minutes to let the motor cool off some.

Some Final Words

A smoking sewing machine is not always a sign that something major has gone wrong with your machine. You may have over oiled it when you did a little regular maintenance and a little wiping is in order.

When you see smoke, you should shut your machine off for a little bit and let the motor cool off. If it still smokes after you turn it back on, search for other causes or take it to a repairman to get it fixed.

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