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I too have the same problem with my Admiral dryer. Have come to the conclusion that the soot is making all my clothes greyer, but just noticed it with my whites. Took apart my dryer today and first of all found that the outlet below the lint vent was plugged. There is no soot on the outside of the drum or the dryer housing...however there is soot within the metal tube that surrounds the gas burner. Seems the gas is not being burned properly or the plugged lint trap was not letting the burned gases escape??? Laura
the soot is coming from the flame at the gas heater box the drier needs to be converted to propane the flame is too large without the conversion kit installed and thus creates soot at the vent. contact a local repair place for this one it can be tricky.
Soot would mean lint is circulating around in your machine, and getting to the combustion area. Take the machine all apart and clean it thoroughly, including taking the cover off the fan and cleaning it too. A dirty fan will slow down the whole works. Check with your hardware store for a chimney-sweep's brush. I once bought one that could be tied to ropes and pulled up and down a flue. If they have a brush the right size, you could do that and really clean your dryer vent.
There are several possible causes:
a) exhaust vent is restricted forcing the lint to enter the dryer shell and overheat and/or be picked up by the blower -- you seem to have inspected this
b) check the hot gas inlet to the drum.. on some dryers, lint buildup can occur in tight spots and it will overheat and char
c) ducting is not intact or leaks allowing lint to leak into the dryer shell -- this will occur over time, and all dryers should be taken apart and cleaned out on a regular basis... also, all ducting should be inspected and sealed as needed
d) verify that the inlet vents to the dryer shell are not blocked and allow adequate air flow to the burner assembly -- natural gas normally won't smoke due to incomplete combustion, but.. likewise, verify the room has adequate ventilation particularly if the utility room or closet is very small,
e) check the drum drive belt, as it gets old, it will release dust and minute pieces which will be picked up by the blower -- replace if needed...
f) verify that the seals on the drum are still good -- replace as needed
g) as 'washer-tech' advised, do a thorough cleaning and inspection... put it back together with all ducting tight and free flowing