Compared to your washer, your dryer should be as quiet as a dream. There are no soaking clothes sloshing around inside. When well spun in a washer, your clothing dries rather silently. The only exception is when something is wrong with your dryer. Thumping, grinding, squealing, and more can manifest from many different parts. However, by listening, you may be able to pinpoint more closely where the noise is coming from and with help can troubleshoot what part needs to be fixed before it drives you mad.
If you have found yourself with a noisy dryer that is clearly not running smoothly any longer, here are the parts you may want to check first to find the source of the noise.
If your dryer has started squealing or making some thumping noises, the most common culprit is usually the rollers that support the drum. These rollers provide support for the drum and allow for smooth motion, turning as the drum turns. However, over time these rollers can become worn. In some cases, you may notice the dryer drum doesn’t turn as smoothly, but more likely, you will find that the drum makes distinct squeaks on each turn. This part can be found on the front and rear of the drum. When inspecting them, you will also want to inspect the shaft that the rollers sit on as well. Like the roller itself, a worn shaft can cause the same noise issue.
If the rollers actually look fine, but you are still hearing a thumping noise, your attention will want to turn to the drive belt. This belt, along with its motor, is responsible for actually turning the drum. Over time, the rubber drive belt can become worn from motion or may become hard and brittle from age. Instead of being flexible around the drum and pulley, it is stiff, thus manifesting a thumping as it turns. Inspect the belt to make sure it is pliable, properly seated, and shows no visible signs of damage.
The drive belt is attached to the idler pulley that helps keep the tension so that the belt doesn’t slide out of place. However, this part is prone to working at a very high speed, so friction can damage it over time. When this happens, it will squeal rather unbearably. If your dryer manifests a consistent squeaking, this part is likely to blame. When inspecting this part, it should turn freely and quietly without the belt on it. If it does not, you will want to replace it. Do not try options such as lubricating it as this can cause a bit of mess in the area which may result in the drive belt frequently slipping out of place.
The motor makes the pulley and drive belt spin. Like these parts, it can also manifest noise when it is going faulty. Your dryer may still spin fine for a time, but the motor will go out eventually if it is noisy. The truly troublesome part of diagnosing motor noise is that it can manifest many noises. Grinding, rattling, and squealing are all common. However, these can also be made by drive belt and idler pulley issues. Essentially, you need to disconnect the drive belt and test the motor itself to see if it is the true source of the noise. In this respect, it is best to leave investigating the motor for last and to check the idler pulley and the drive belt first.
The blower wheel aids in ferrying warm air from the heating chamber into the drum and them out the exhaust. As this part is typically made from plastic, it is more prone to wear over time. What will likely happen is that it wears down and starts to loosen on the shaft between the clamp. When this happens, it essentially bounces around just slightly enough to cause a thumping noise. If you notice this noise from closer to the center of your dryer, it is likely the fan. In some cases, you may be able to rectify this temporarily by tightening the clamp, but the wear will likely come back if the fan is not replaced.
While not all dryers have them, the lifters, or the fins on the inner drum, can cause noise. These lifters appear fairly solid, but they can come loose. This is more likely to happen if you have recently tried to dry more solid objects like shoes or put a tennis ball in to prevent lumpy pillows. These solid objects can loosen the lifters and cause them to rattle and thump. You will want to replace the loose lifter as soon as possible. It can snag clothing and cause damage. Even simply removing the loose lifter still has the chance for clothing to snag and tear, especially more delicate items.
Felt Drum Seal
If you are hearing more of a scraping noise, then it may not be any of the above. You should look instead of the padding that is placed between the drum and the bulkheads of your dryer. In order to prevent any rubbing of the drum against the exterior of the dryer, there is often a drum seal made of a felt-like fabric. This provides a nice quiet cushion so there is no metal rubbing on metal. However, felt is not the most sturdy material. Over time, it can wear away, and when it does, you will hear that metal scraping sound. The more contact that is made, the more violent and loud and sound will be.
Obviously, you want to stop dryer use until you can get a new felt seal installed. If metal rubs against metal, it could cause permanent damage. Furthermore, it may cause the metal to become rough and tear up any new felt that is installed. You will want to rub the metal that made contact down with a cloth to remove any rough areas. Using sandpaper may even be needed if this was left unrepaired for too long.