You’ve just put a load of laundry into your dryer and it starts squeaking. Or it sounds like you have a brick rolling around clunking and thumping. Whatever noise your dryer is making, don’t panic: There are some problems you can solve yourself without needing to repair or replace your appliance.
Before you begin any dryer repair
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Before you begin any inspection or repair, you should unplug your dryer: once you start taking things apart, there could be exposed wires or electrical components that could shock you. Also, it could be dangerous if your dryer begins a cycle while you have it opened up. If your dryer is gas powered, or if you can’t unplug it because it’s wired directly into the house, you’ll need a professional to help.
What causes dryer noises?
Dryers will begin to squeak if the drum rollers, axles, or idler pulley is worn out. The reason for the squeak is that one part of the dryer is rubbing against another part, causing friction. Doing a visual inspection to see if anything is out of place is the first step in troubleshooting.
Check the rollers
To check for this problem, open your unplugged dryer and look at the back wall. If there’s a gap between the drum and the back wall, it likely means that one or more of the rollers has worn out. If it’s difficult to turn the drum, it could be that the ball bearings in the rollers are broken. You’ll need to remove the drum to troubleshoot this issue if you want to tackle it yourself.
Check the axles
If while you’re turning the drum by hand, it turns unevenly, causing a wobble, one or more of the axles for the rollers might be out of place. If the axles are bent, the rollers won’t make consistent contact with the drum. The drum might also make a thumping or clunking noise as it turns crookedly.
Check the drive belt
To deal with bumping or thumping noises that aren’t caused by the axles, you should check the rubber drive belt that feeds over the idler pulley and around the drum of the dryer. You can usually open the top panel of your dryer to get access to visually inspect the belt. If it’s split or shows any wear, or if it’s broken and no longer attached to the drum, this is your issue.
Check the idler pulley
The idler pulley can also cause squeaking. This is the pulley that tensions the rubber drive belt that turns the drum. If the belt is slipping, this will create friction and cause noise, but it will also cause your clothing not to tumble during the dry cycle, which could make it take more time to dry your clothes. You need to take the drum out to see the idler pulley, but if the drive belt (see above) isn’t taut, that’s a good indication that something is wrong with the idler pulley.
Check the seal
Many dryers also have a felt-like seal attached to the front and back edge of the drum. If this is worn out, creating a space between the drum and the front and back casings of your dryer, or if it’s torn or has fallen off, this can cause bumping, thumping, or rattling noises. If you see any bunched up, felt-like material around the front or back edge of the drum, that’s evidence of a problem with the seal. Also, if you can’t see a seal and the metal edge of the drum is visible, that’s another indication the seal needs to be replaced.
How to find replacement dryer parts
You’ll be able to go online to order replacement parts with the model number of your dryer, or pick them up yourself if you have a local shop that stocks the parts. If you opt to go to a hardware store, bringing a photo and/or the broken part will be helpful. It’s recommended to replace all of the rollers and axles at once, even if the problem is only with one, to make sure that they wear evenly and don’t cause problems in the future.
And if you don’t feel comfortable making the repair yourself, at least you’ll have an idea of what’s wrong when you call in a repairperson to fix it.