Is your dryer squeaking loudly? Does it only make the noise when it starts, after it warms up, or continuously? If you’re afraid to use your dryer due to the irritating noise and fear it might fall apart, here are some suggestions that should help.
A dryer squeaking may be caused by a worn rear drum bearing, tub support roller being worn, a worn belt, idler pulley, glides or felt wearing out, motor bearing dying, or something else related to the drum’s movement. Most parts are cheaper than a new dryer, and not too difficult to replace.
In this article, we explore what may cause a dryer to squeak, whether you can use a squeaking dryer, and how to repair it. When you finish reading, you’ll better understand what may cause the squeaking, how to fix it, and whether to do the repair yourself or call on a professional.
Why Does My Dryer Squeak: Possible Causes
A dryer is an important household convenience, so when it’s not working, laundry piles up. The dryer has a metal or plastic drum that rotates, causing the wet clothes to tumble. Whether the dryer is belt-driven or direct-drive, the parts that turn the drum may cause the dryer to squeak. However, the different components that support the drum and allow it to rotate freely could also be responsible for the noise.
Here are the parts to check if your dryer is making a squealing noise or loudly squeaking, why they might be noisy, and a possible solution.
Worn drum glides may squeal, clang, or grind, depending on the type used. The glides provide support at the open front end of the drum and allow it to turn smoothly against the front cabinet. There are different styles of glides: strips of adhesive felt with plastic or nylon pads, metal brackets with a felt and nylon pads, or detachable plastic cowlings. A sure sign that the glides may need to be replaced is brown flecks or spots from dried out and deteriorating felt.
The rear of the drum is supported by and rotates on the rear support shaft and drum bearing. Different manufacturers use a variety of components: plastic, nylon, metal, ball bearings, spindle and sleeve, ball and socket, bushings, or a combination.
The bearing is located at the center rear of the drum, and one part attaches to the back of the drum and the other to the support frame at the rear of the cabinet. Worn drum bearings may squeal, grind, or screech. The noise won’t stop until the drum stops turning, and the motor may also have difficulty turning the drum.
The dryer motor has sealed ball or roller bearings that allow it to operate with minimal friction. Most dryer motors have a shaft with a pulley that drives a belt that turns the drum. However, some are direct-drive motors, meaning it spins the drum without the benefit of a drive belt.
Regardless of the type, if the bearings dry out or become worn, they will squeak or squeal. A sure sign it is the motor is if it shuts off for a period to cool down, and then cycles on. If the bearings seize, the motor won’t work.
Blower Wheel or Fan
The blower fan is a plastic, nylon, or metal vaned wheel or impeller that draws air into the dryer where it is heated. The fan forces the heated air through the drum and out the vent. The dryer motor shaft drives the blower. The blower may collect lint or debris over time, causing wear or damage to the fan and making a thumping or squealing noise.
The drive belt is a long, narrow flat rubber loop. It goes around the exterior of the drum cylinder and the motor pulley. When you turn the dryer on, the motor spins the pulley, which rotates the belt, and turns the tub. A worn belt may make a thumping or whooshing sound as frayed sections of the belt hit or feather the drum. If the belt is slipping at the pulley, it will also squeak.
Drum Support Rollers
Although a dryer is supported at the back with the drum bearing and the front with drum glides, the main weight is often cradled by four drum support rollers. They are located at 5 and 7-o’clock under the drum, with two towards the back and two near the front.
The rollers are like rubber wheels with a bearing at the center. A bolt or shaft goes through the bearing and secures it to a bracket. If the bearings or rubber wear, the support rollers may begin to squeak continuously or intermittently as the dryer heats up, or with heavier loads.
Motor Idler Wheel or Pulley
The idler pulley is a plastic, metal, or nylon wheel on a spring-loaded mounting that provides tension to the drive belt. The wheel also has a bearing that permits it to spin with limited friction. A worn pulley or bearing can produce a squealing or squeaking noise. Over time, the sound may become a scraping or thumping noise. If you remove the idler wheel from the belt and spin it, it should spin freely; otherwise, replace it.
The felt seal wraps the edge of the rear of the drum cylinder, and also the front on some models. It seals the seams where the ends of the cylinder meet the top and bottom of the drum. The felt cushions the moving piece and stationary housing, preventing abrasion and limiting unheated airflow into the drum.
The seal can dry out and become shiny, causing a squealing dryer noise when the drum rotates. It may also thump or have a metallic scraping sound if worn through. Clothes may become snagged in the gap or have brown or black streaks where they have rubbed against the unprotected or worn seal edge.
Lifters or Baffles
Baffles are molded plastic or metal vanes attached to the inside of the drum. As the drum rotates, they lift and tumble the clothes, improving exposure to the heated air. Some lifters are removable and can squeak as it moves the clothes. If the load is heavy, the tumbling between baffles may cause the drum to slip within the drive belt, making it squeak.
A dryer squeaking may have a simple solution. The dryer can shift out of level over time, causing it to rock slightly and squeak. Make sure the dryer is level and doesn’t wobble.
Loose screws, or those that fall out of pockets, may rattle or jingle, or cause parts to shift and squeak. Items that fall through or become stuck in the perforations may produce a metallic squeaking or screech noise.
Is It Safe to Use a Squeaky Dryer?
If your dryer is making a squeak or squeal that is not a usual noise, something is wrong. In most situations, if you can tolerate the sound, finish the load, and consult the owner’s manual or an appliance repair service. The more you use a squealing dryer, the greater the possibility of causing further damage.
An electrical appliance, like an automobile, makes a ‘normal’ sound when operating. If, or when, it begins making an unusual sound, it is cause for concern. We’ve identified eleven possible causes of a dryer squeaking, and almost all require replacing a component. If you can identify the problem and feel capable of completing the repair, then order the parts and save the cost of a service call.
How to Fix a Squeaky Dryer
Dryer repairs aren’t impossible tasks provided you have the correct parts. To ensure you have the parts for the repair, you need to identify the problem.
- Check the drum for screws, nails, paperclips, or even toothpicks caught to the perforations and causing the noise. If they’re responsible, the problem is solved.
- Use a level or see if the dryer wobbles, level, and cross your fingers.
- Loose baffles or lifters may need to be tightened or replaced.
- If you notice brown specks or flecks on your clean clothes, check the drum glides.
- Grayish black streaks on fabric happen when clothes get caught in the crack the felt should seal. It’s a good indicator that the felt seal needs to be replaced.
Note: Unplug the dryer before inspecting or working on it, 240 volts is deadly. Shut off the gas to gas dryers too.
To check the other potential causes, pull the dryer out so you can work around it. You may need to remove the front, back, or top of the dryer cabinet, depending on the make and model. It is best to refer to the owner’s manual. Check online if you can’t find one. It’s also helpful to watch some dryer repair videos online before deciding to repair it.
Most repairs require a few common tools:
- Slot and Phillips screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench or box wrenches
- Paint scraper or putty knife
- Sandpaper -100 grit
- Rubber mallet
- Electric drill and rivet gun if dryer glides are riveted in place.
The drum bearing is located at the rear of the drum, so you’ll need to remove the back cover or top for a visual inspection. If you observe metal filings around or below the bearing location, you may have identified the problem.
Check the blower wheel or fan from the back of the dryer. There is often a vented access panel at the bottom of the dryer back where the air is drawn in by the fan. Remove and clean if necessary, check the fan rotation, and if it makes noise.
To inspect and access the idler pulley, drum support rollers, drive belt, and drum glides, remove the front of the dryer cabinet. The top of the cabinet may need to be lifted for the front to pop out, or to remove a screw or two.
To unclip the top, use a putty knife or paint scraper. Insert it in the crack between the top and sides of the cabinet. Slide it from back to front until you encounter a clip. Move the knife out, and then push it back against the clip to get it to release.
Do the same on the other side. Lift the top and clamp it, so it stays open. Remove the screws holding the front in place – don’t misplace the screws. Pull out and lift at the same time to remove the front panel.
Note: Screw tips and metal parts may have sharp points or edges that may cause injury, use caution.
- Use a light source and inspect the belt, rollers, and pulleys. Check for loose screws or bolts, wearing, fraying, smooth glassy spots, discoloring, or metal filing.
- Check the drum glides once the front panel is off. Look at the inside of the front panel. If the plastic or nylon glide is worn or the felt is brittle, consider replacing while the dryer is open. If there is a felt seal at the front, inspect it too.
- Inspect that the idler pulley and spring work. Disconnect the spring to loosen the belt. Spin the idler wheel, if it sticks, squeaks, or wobbles; replace.
- With the idler tension off, rotate the drum and listen for noise from the drum bearing and support rollers. This is also a good time to spin the motor shaft and drive pulley. If it squeaks or doesn’t spin freely, and isn’t under warranty, you have a decision to make – what kind of new dryer to purchase.
- If the drive belt is frayed, glassy from slipping or has thin sections from uneven wear, replace it. Check the manual when unplugging the wire harness and removing mounting hardware. You may have to remove the idler pulley mount too. Slide the new belt into place, loop it like the original one, and reattach everything, and then plug in the wire harness.
Once you’ve identified the cause of the squeak, look for the make, model, and year – the serial number is helpful too. The information is often on a sticker on the back of the dryer, or inside the door. Order the service kit for $50 to $100 or parts needed for the repair.
The owner’s manual has contact information, check online, or where you purchased the dryer for what you require. If the drum is rusting or the motor needs replacing, it could be time for a new appliance.
A dryer is an essential tool in many households and commonly lasts for decades, so when it starts squeaking loudly, it’s a cause for concern. With limited moving parts, identifying the cause of the noise is fairly easy. Common repairs are replacing the belt, idler pulley, felt, glides, and drum bearing. Failure to repair, however, can lead to motor damage, which often means replacing the dryer.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how a dryer works and what can cause it to squeak. Repairing a dryer is often less expensive than purchasing a new unit, even if you hire a professional to do the job. If you found the article helpful and interesting, please share it with others. As always, your comments and suggestions are appreciated.
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