Why Is My Dryer Squeaking?

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Are you wondering why your dryer has begun squeaking all of a sudden, or has it been building up over a longer period of time? Clothes dryers, albeit their simplistic exterior, have numerous mechanical parts that you may not be aware of. Every mechanical part, especially the ones involved in turning the drum and running the ventilator, begin to wear over time. Eventually, they could cause a squeaking noise as they begin to wear out.

Squeaks may be caused by something as simple as unbalanced legs, foreign objects, or loose screws. However, if it’s an older clothes dryer, internal parts could be worn out and causing friction between mechanical parts. This troubleshooting guide will focus on how to identify the most common issues leading to unwanted noises, and how to fix them. 

First, do a quick dryer check

If your dryer is squeaking every time you turn it on and the drum is rolling, you could perform a quick check as recommended by GE Appliances. As mentioned in their guide, sqeaku noises could be the first signs of a problem that could grow bigger if you don’t address it in time.

While doing a quick dryer check, these are the common causes to unusual noises coming from your dryer:

#1 Foreign objects

Pants and shirts have pockets, and sometimes people forget to empty those prior to washing and drying their clothes. Coins, hair pins and other foreign objects could easily fall out of the pockets and cause trouble in your dryer, especially if they manage to get stuck in a crack or crevice. This could cause unwanted friction inside the drum, resulting in a squeaky dryer. 

#2 Dryer legs

If the dryer legs aren’t balanced and/or have become loose, they could be the cause of a never-ending noisy cycle. This could be amplified if your clothes dryer is located on a pedestal, or if it’s located in a place where it can rock back and forth during a cycle.

Make sure the legs are adjusted so your dryer is perfectly level, and inspect them regularly to make sure they don’t become loose on their own.

#3 Loose screws

Loose screws, located anywhere on your dryer, could cause annoying squeaks if metal parts are able to move back and forth while causing friction.

If you notice any unusual sounds from your dryer, inspect any visible screws and tighten them if needed.

The anatomy of a dryer and what makes it squeaky

Knowing how your clothes dryer is designed and where the internal parts are located, could be useful if you know where the squeaks are coming from. Understanding the anatomy of a dryer could therefore prove beneficial, as you may be able to assess the issue without having to take everything apart.

Bottom of the unit

If you’re dealing with a squeaky clothes dryer, it is most likely that the noises are located at the bottom of the unit. The reason being that most of the mechanical parts are located beneath the drum, including:

  • Drum support rollers
  • Rear drum bearings
  • Motor
  • Blower fan
  • Drum belt
  • Idler pulleys

Some of the parts mentioned above are identical with the ones mentioned under section 1) bottom of the unit. This is because there’s often a connection between squeaks coming from the back of the unit and the bottom of the unit, because this is one big “open” area under the drum. 

Back of the unit

The back of the clothes dryer is the least accessible area, but sometimes you may be able to locate the squeaks from somewhere behind the unit. More often than not, the culprit is located under the drum and therefore accessible from the bottom/front of the unit as well.

These are the parts that are usually located at the back of the unit near the bottom:

  • Drum support roller
  • Rear drum bearings
  • Motor
  • Blower fan

If you notice any squeaks from the back of your clothes dryer, one of the parts mentioned above could be the issue.

Top of the unit

There aren’t a lot of mechanical parts located at the top of the unit (above the drum). Some clothes dryers, especially older units, have the control panel located at the rear part of the top.

If you, by any chance, think the squeaky noises are coming from the top of your dryer, the drum and/or other parts may have dislocated themselves somehow.

This issue could be related to the drive belt as well, but this is most likely to produce sounds from the bottom of your dryer.

How to inspect a squeaky dryer

If you haven’t been able to identify where the squeaky noises originate from, there’s nothing else to do except taking the machine apart and inspect it yourself. Unless you want to call a professional, but if you’re comfortable doing it yourself you can save money.

For illustration purposes and what elements to look out for, this video is helpful:

Things you may need

  • Putty knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Lubricant/grease suitable for a dryer
  • Replacement parts and supplies

#1 Check the drum for movement

Reach inside the drum and try manipulating it by pressing down and up, as well as pushing it back and forth. There should only be very little movement in any direction. If you’re seeing significant movement up or down, back or forth, it could indicate that the drum support rollers, rear drum bearings, front gliders or the felt are worn out. These parts assist in holding the drum in place and securing it against unwanted friction. If any of these parts show signs of wear and tear, squeaking sounds are the first indicator.

#2 Slide the dryer out from the wall and unplug it

The first thing you want to do before taking the dryer apart, is to create a bit of work space around your dryer and unplug it from the outlet. You may also have to loosen screws at the back of the unit, which is why it’s a good idea to slide it out from the wall.

Carefully slide the dryer out from the wall, and consider placing the legs on soft cloths to prevent it from scratching your floor.

#3 Remove the top and front of your dryer

Removing the top of your dryer requires a putty knife or similar flat metal tool. Slip it in between the front panel and the top panel, and push the clips holding the top panel until they release. You may want to consult the user manual for this, as different dryers have different clips.

Once the top comes off, you’ll be able to remove the front panel as well. Once the front panel comes off, you will be able to inspect the mechanical parts and identify the source of the noise.

#4 Inspect felt seal or sliders

Your clothes dryer may use a felt seal or sliders. Inspect them to see if they’re worn out and need a replacement. They should appear intact with no bruises or irregularities.

Consider replacing them if you suspect they don’t work properly, but consult the manufacturer first if you’re in doubt.

#5 Inspect the drum support rollers

In order to do so, you may need to remove the drum. Drum support rollers are located at the back of the dryer, and they could be failing if they’re old and worn out.

Unhook the drum and pull it out first, and check if all drum support rollers are intact and move freely without feeling overly loose or wobbly. Consider adding lube and/or replacing them, if they’re worn out.

#6 Inspect rear shaft and mounting bearing

Now that your drum has been pulled out, you can also inspect the rear shaft and mounting bearing. If you’re seeing any signs of wear or irregularities, replace them with a new set. They could very likely make a lot of squeaky noises if they’re not functioning properly.

#7 Inspect the idler pulley

The idler pulley is part of the belt system, and it could be worn out as well. Check if it works smoothly with no squeaking, or replace it if needed.

How much does it cost to fix a squeaky dryer?

We’ve seen numerous examples of how much it costs to fix a squeaky dryer, and it seems like the average repair cost is between $100 to $200. These prices are also suggested by service platforms such as Thumbtack, Fixr, and HomeAdvisor

If you can do it yourself you’ll only have to pay for the parts though, but otherwise you’ll have to factor in the cost of labor as well.

This would cover any issue related to squeaking, with the exception of motor problems. If the motor is dying, the price goes up. Replacement motors can be quite expensive, and it’s more complicated to install it since it requires rewiring and in some cases soldering as well.

Is it worth repairing a squeaky dryer?

A good clothes dryer would last 10 years or more, depending on how well it’s maintained and how often it’s used.

If your dryer becomes squeaky in its first 4-5 years, it’s generally considered worth repairing. If it’s older, the squeaky sounds could be caused by other and more serious issues than just a worn out plastic part.

We found this 50% rule described on Fixr:

If the dryer is at least 50% through its expected lifespan and the repair cost is estimated to 50% the cost of a new dryer, it’s time to replace it.

More often than not you can easily fix a squeaky dryer though, and we recommend that you call the manufacturer first and try identifying the cause before buying a completely new dryer. With a bit of knowledge and a few tools, you may be able to fix it yourself for just a few bucks.

Is it safe to use a squeaky dryer?

A squeaky dryer isn’t necessarily unsafe to use, but squeaks do in fact indicate that there’s unwanted friction between internal parts.

Unwanted friction could eventually cause overheating of the motor and other parts, which is why we deem it a safety risk if you keep running a squeaky dryer.

Squealing bearings and other mechanical parts may not be the common cause of fires and/or overheating, but there’s still a small chance that they could cause your motor to break down and – in rare cases – burst into flames. A damaged motor would mean that you have to replace the entire dryer instead of just one part.

Bottomline; Address the issue as quickly as possible so it doesn’t worsen over time, and don’t hesitate to hire a repairman for the job if you’re not comfortable with doing it yourself.

Are squeaky dryers a common cause of fire?

You may be surprised to find out that, according to a report by the National Fire Protection Association,  31% of all dryer and washer fires were caused by failure to clean and maintain the machines properly.

That includes regular removal of lint from lint traps, as well as removal of dust from vents and ducts. If lint and dust build up inside the dryer, it may overheat and start a fire.

Interestingly, the leading items first ignited in a dryer were dust, fiber, lint, and clothing. In combination, they account for 53% of all things first ignited during a dryer fire.

We recommend keeping an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby and ready for use at all times. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but could slow down a fire or choke it completely before it catches onto other things in your house.