Most of the time the smell has nothing to do with a dead animal. The culprit is most likely lint buildup in your vent. Every time you run your dryer_ lint is being produced. Most of the lint ends up on your dryer’s lint screen, but not all. As air passes through the screen it carries lint particles that gather in your vent eventually blocking it if left unchecked.
Sometimes when a vent becomes obstructed the steam reverts back into water. The combination of heat, water, and lint sitting in your dryer vent create a smell similar to a dead animal. Who knew!
I’m not saying you don’t have an animal in your vent, but the odds are low. At VentSmart Dryer Vent Cleaning we’ve cleaned over 10’000 dryer vents with very few animal encounters. Once in awhile we find a birds nest in a side vent, but rarely in a roof top exit. Any critter that climbs into a rooftop exit will end up in your dryer. It’s a suicide drop and in my experience rare.
What about installing a screen at my exit for peace of mind? A screen can become blocked with lint in just a couple months putting you at risk of a dryer fire. In most municipals it’s a code violation to have any type of screen at your dryer vent exit. The exit should be equipped with a backdraft flap that opens when your dryer is running and closes when it’s not. Without a flap your vent becomes a vacuum in the event of a fire.
To see if lint blockage is creating the smell in your laundry room, pull the dryer out from the wall and detach the connection tube. Be sure and have a mop or shop vac ready just in case you find a tube full of water. This problem can be avoided with annual dryer vent cleaning by a professional. If you’re handy you may want to try cleaning the vent yourself. The Linteater vent cleaning kit is one option.