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Q: Recently, I noticed my dryer squeaking every time I run it. Should I be concerned, or is it just normal wear and tear?
A: A dryer squeaking is definitely not normal wear and tear. It usually indicates that a part has worn out and needs repair. First, try to identify the location of the squeak: top, back, front, or bottom (and make sure the squeaking isn’t coming from the floor). This helps determine which part is possibly malfunctioning and can offer a clue about how small or big a fix it will require and whether or not it’s a good idea to consult a professional. Here are some potential causes of the problem.
The roller wheels or bearings might not be lubricated properly.
Ideally, the dryer squeaking sound is coming from the wheels or bearings on the bottom of the dryer; this is a relatively easy problem to solve. As the dryer drum rotates, especially with bulky loads, the dryer moves slightly while it’s running. If the wheels or legs on the bottom of the dryer have become loose or uneven, they can cause a squeaking sound. You can try putting a little WD-40 on them to grease them up and eliminate the squeaking noise. If your dryer sits on screwed-in legs, simply tighten them.
Alternatively, the squeaking noise may be caused by small foreign objects in the dryer’s drum or lint filter. Coins, paper clips, and other similar items can easily be found in the drum and removed. To inspect the lint filter, unplug the dryer, then look down the opening. If you see a stuck object, use work gloves to retrieve it.
The dryer belt might be worn out and it needs to be replaced.
Since dryers run at high temperatures, it’s not too uncommon for a dryer belt to become worn and cracked over time. If the squeaking is coming from the top of the dryer, a worn-down dryer belt may be the culprit. You can inspect the belt for cracks or see if it’s loose by first unplugging the dryer, then opening the dryer cabinet.
You can prolong the life of the dryer belt by rubbing bar soap or spray belt lubricator on it, but if the belt is showing signs of wear, you may be better off ordering a replacement part and having it installed to avoid problems down the road.
The idler pulley may have lost traction and needs replacement.
A dryer squeaking sound coming from the bottom may be indicative of a problem with the idler pulley. This part is an automatic tensioning device on the dryer belt. You can check the idler pulley’s state: if the pulley wheel is broken or loose, a dryer squeaking would be the result. In this case, some dryers will require a full pulley replacement, while others will need only the wheel replaced.
The drum glide bearings might be faulty and need replacement.
Another possible culprit for a squeaky dryer is the faulty drum glide bearings, which will make a squeaking or rubbing sound toward the front of the dryer. This part is what helps the drum glide smoothly when rotating against the front seal. You can inspect if the glide bearings have been worn down. Minimal signs of wear could be enough cause for replacing the part. You may also want to replace the front seal at the same time if it was damaged by the faulty drum glide bearings.
The dryer bearings and motor need to be replaced.
A faulty motor is usually identified by squeaking or grinding sounds, not by a burning smell. If the squeaking sound is coming from the back of the dryer, a faulty motor or bad bearings may be the problem. This issue should be solved promptly: grinding bearings can break the motor.
With the dryer unplugged, you can open up the unit and check if the bearings need to be lubricated or replaced. Replacing the motor may involve removing wiring, clamps, or the pulley, so if that seems a little more daunting to tackle, it may be worth calling in a professional who can get the job done confidently.