There’s no better feeling than opening the dryer door and pulling out a load of crisp, freshly dried laundry. But what about if your dryer is making a loud squealing or grinding noise? It might be getting the job done, but it’s no good to you if you’ve got to soundproof the laundry room in the meantime. A dryer that is making a loud squealing or grinding noise may also be giving you a sign that it’s about to wear out or stop working altogether. This helpful guide can help you understand why your dryer is making a loud squealing or grinding noise, and how you might be able to stop the annoying problem yourself.
Remember a few safety tips before getting started: always unplug the appliance before servicing the inside cabinet, always wait until the appliance is cool to service it, wear protective eyewear and clothing when necessary, and don’t be afraid to call in a dryer repair professional when needed.
First, check your drum bearings. In some models of gas or electric clothes dryers, the drum is supported at the back of the cabinet by a bearing. Depending on the model of dryer, the bearing may be a ball and socket bearing, or a shaft connected to a sleeve bushing. A defective or broken rear bearing will make squealing or squeaking noises, and will have to be replaced.
Next, inspect the drum glides or slides. In both gas and electric dryers, parts called the drum glides provide support to the front part of the dryer’s drum on both sides. The glides are built from Teflon, nylon, or plastic, and have a felt or cork backing. The glides provide a surface for the drum to rotate on, but they can wear down, producing a scraping sound because of metal-to-metal contact. Remove your dryer’s cabinet and inspect the glides, as indicated in your owner’s manual. If they appear to be worn or broken, the set has to be replaced.
Third, inspect the drum support rollers and shaft. Some makes and models of gas or electric dryers have rollers that support the drying drum. The rollers are usually located near the back of the cabinet, and some models will have them on the front, also. These rollers can wear out and become damaged from usage, resulting in the dryer’s drum not moving freely. This will create a squealing noise or, in some cases, a thumping sound. Like the tires on your car, drum rollers must be replaced as a set so that they wear evenly. The shaft that turns the rollers should also be inspected for wear and replaced when needed.
Next, assess the drive belt. Just like a car, many components of a dryer use belts for mechanical action. Gas and electric dryers have a belt to rotate the drum. The belt can become hard, brittle, or worn out over time, and portions of the belt may split and cause a thumping sound when operating. Open your front panel to visually inspect the belts. On some models, you’ll have to go in through the top.
Fourth, consider the idler pulley. Tension is created in dryer belts by pulleys like the idler pulley. The idler pulley rotates at high speed and may fail due to friction over time. A squeaking or squealing noise will be heard and can progress to a loud scraping or thumping noise as time goes by. With the belt off, the idler pulley should turn freely on the shaft. If you’re checking the idler pulley, also check the shaft for signs of damage, and replace if needed. The idler pulley and shaft are usually located next to the drive motor at the bottom of the cabinet and can be serviced with the lower access or front panel removed.
Next up, inspect the blower wheel and housing. Gas and electric dryers use a blower wheel to draw the air from the heating chamber, through the drum, and out the exhaust port. The blower wheel is made of plastic and can wear out over time or heavy use. The wheel is usually attached to the end of the motor and may be threaded onto the shaft or held in place with a clamp. If the blower wheel is loose, you will hear a loud thumping or roaring noise. Inspect the housing for any objects that might be hitting the wheel, and inspect the hub of the wheel where it attaches to the shaft of the motor. If any of the components are worn down or broken, the blower wheel will have to be replaced.
Felt drum seals are used to prevent outside air from entering the dryer drum. The drum seals are made up of a material much like felt. If the felt seal is worn out, torn, or missing, clothing can become stuck in the gap when the drum is active. This can make a scraping or thumping noise, and the clothes can also be ripped or have black marks on them.
Finally, address the motor. All dryers rely on a motor that turns both the blower and the dryer drum. A defective motor can produce a variety of sounds, such as a rattling noise from a loose pulley, a high-pitched sound from bad bearings, or a humming noise from a bad switch. You will possibly have to remove the drum belt and/or the blower wheel to isolate the motor as the cause for the noise.