What Causes a Dryer to Squeak and How Can You Fix It?
Every once in a while, my dryer starts misbehaving and producing all sorts of ungodly noises. Recently, the squeaking sounds have been increasing in frequency and volume. So I decided to look into how I could stop it once and for all. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to figure out possible causes of dryer noises — as well as possible fixes.
Of course, if you’re a total amateur repairman, you can always call in the pros. After all, this project certainly isn’t going to be as easy as silencing a squeaky shoe, door hinge, or floorboard. Still, even if you do end up calling for help, this article will let you know what you can expect.
The first thing you need to know are the possible causes of the noise. Unfortunately, there are several possible explanations for squeaking noises coming from a dryer while running. Usually, you won’t know which one you’re dealing with until you open the machine up. However, for now, we can talk about why different parts could malfunction and how that flaw could cause such a noise.
On the bright side, dryers don’t actually have many moving parts that might break down. So you should be able to tell which of them is making the noise pretty quickly. The possible culprits are usually the dryer belt, idler pulley, drum bearings, and motor. We’re about to figure out what those are and how they could create squeaking noises.
Before we begin, I ought to point out that the following section of the article is strictly theoretical. You don’t want to peek inside the dryer until you know the basic anatomy of the machine you’re working with. Furthermore, you should never open any electrical machine while it’s plugged in — that should come as a given. Now that that’s been said, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
The dryer belt is a relatively thin and narrow rubber ring that goes around the dryer drum. The belt is attached to the pulley, which is, in turn, attached to the motor. When the motor is active, it moves the idler pulley, thereby causing the belt and the drum to spin. So where’s the issue there?
Well, depending on the amount of use you get out of your dryer, you could see some serious wear on the dryer belt. It may have stretched due to all the spinning, which can reduce its efficiency. After all, if the belt isn’t snug against the metal drum, it can’t hold onto it firmly enough to spin it. As you can imagine, loose rubber and metal don’t exactly mix.
So, the squeaking noise could be coming from the friction between those two materials. It’s pretty much the same thing that happens when you walk on vinyl floors in brand new rubber sole sneakers.
Fortunately, this issue is pretty easy to fix. You just need to get a replacement belt and swap out the old one. In fact, that’s all I had to do to fix my dryer — so that’s the easy case scenario.
Most dryers have two pulleys: the motor pulley and the idler pulley. As I have mentioned, the idler pulley is located between the motor and the dryer belt. This part is actually a spinning wheel, so it can start wiggling or losing traction, which may result in a squeaking noise.
Still, just like with the dryer belt, this part is fairly easy to replace. You should even be able to do it yourself after a quick perusal of your dryer’s manual. But remember, you can’t get just any parts — they may not be compatible with your dryer. You may have a tough time finding replacements, even if you took the time to figure out exactly which kind of part you need.
Drum Glide Bearings
If the noise you’re hearing doesn’t sound like loose rubber or a malfunctioning wheel, but rather like metal on plastic, you’re likely dealing with faulty glide bearings. Glides are small strips of material (plastic, felt, or nylon) that go along the edge of the drum. They are attached via a series of locking tabs.
However, switching them out with new ones should be a breeze as long as you can get your hands on new ones that fit your machine.
The solution to a noisy motor could be as easy as getting a new one. However, I’m not sure whether that solution would be worth the trouble, especially if you’re not an electrician. Even if you called in a professional, you’d then have to pay for both the part and the work, which probably wouldn’t be worth it. At that point, I’d suggest getting rid of that dryer and starting fresh with a new one.
How to Fix a Squeaky Dryer
So now that we know which parts are the most likely culprits for the sound, let’s see how we can put a stop to it.
Get the Parts and Supplies You Need
There are two things you’ll need to tackle this repair project: your tool kit and the parts you’ll need to replace. But for the time being, you’ll start with your usual tools:
- Screwdrivers or the proper bit and a drill
- A crescent wrench
- Possibly pliers or clamps
Depending on the dryer you’ve got and the size of its drum, you may need to shop around for a new dryer belt. The same goes for when you try to get an idler pulley — you should look for one that will fit your machine. It should look something like this Samsung dryer pulley, though.
On the other hand, some manufacturers also sell service kits for some of their dryer models. This one from GE contains a bearing, two dryer slides, a belt, and some felt. However, you won’t know which parts you need until you take a peek inside.
First things first, you’ll need to completely unplug your machine to prevent any accidents. Also, make sure to do this in a large and clean work area — so you can see if any parts skip across the floor. Ideally, you should also have a way to track where each of the screws and the parts you take out came from.
If you’re the kind of person who forgets where each letter on your keyboard was when you take them out to clean them, you may want to record yourself as you do this. That way, you’ll be able to reverse-engineer your process.
Replace the Belt, Idler Pulley, or the Glide Bearings
Before you do anything, I’d advise you to spend some time with your dryer manual or on YouTube, looking for videos of the kind of repairs you need to perform. While most disassembling jobs start with taking out the lint trap and remove the screws that hold the lid shut. You can see how to do it in this video of a dryer belt replacement.
When you open up your dryer, you should be able to see whether the noise is coming from your dryer belt fairly quickly. If the rubber is loose, you’ll need to replace the belt. However, you won’t be able to do it unless you disconnect the wire harness plug and remove the mounting screws. You’ll want to check your manual for exactly how to do it.
Once you remove the parts that are preventing you from getting to the belt, replacing the old with the new should be a piece of cake. All you’ll need to do is loop the belt around the two pulleys like the old one was looped.
On the other hand, if the idler pulley itself is the issue, you can check that by spinning it manually. If you determine that is the source of the squeak, you can detach the pulley from its bracket and put in a new one. Then, restore the belt and the other pieces to their places.
Lastly, if you discover a problem with your glide bearings, you’ll need to completely take out the dryer drum. Once you do, you can use your pliers to squeeze the tab pairs and push them back out of their holes to detach the beatings. You can see the process here.
Deal With the Motor
If you’re really bent on resolving this issue by yourself, you could replace your motor. The most difficult part would probably be finding the exact motor your dryer uses. From there, you’ll just need to get to it, which will also require you to remove the back panel of your dryer by unscrewing the screws in the back.
Keep working until you’ve removed everything keeping you from the motor, then disconnect it as well. With the new motor, you can go backward putting everything together. I hope you remember which screws go where!
All jokes aside, just remember that you can always call in the calvary — or rather, your repairman. However, if you see that the inside of your dryer is beyond saving, you could just move on and get a quieter one.
Final Thoughts on Fixing a Squeaky Dryer
At this point, your dryer should be completely squeak-free. Congratulations! However, if you decided not to bother fixing the dryer, you could try some temporary solutions.
Firstly, you can simply move your dryer into a soundproof laundry room, as I’ve explained in a previous article. On the other hand, many people don’t have a whole room to spare for their laundry. So if your dryer is just hanging out in your bathroom, or worse, a hallway, you could also take steps to soundproof the dryer itself.
I’ve already explained how you could do this using a washing machine as an example. Still, the principle is the same. I recommend elevating the machine onto anti-vibration pads and padding the surrounding surfaces. Alternately, you could also create a soundproof cover for the machine by draping it with regular or soundproof blankets.