Why Does My Dryer Squeak Until It Warms Up?

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The unmistakable sound of a dryer in action is a familiar part of our daily lives. It’s the comforting hum and tumble of clothes as they spin and twirl, gradually transforming from damp to dry, ready to be folded and put away. But what happens when this routine is interrupted by an unexpected and annoying noise, like a persistent squeak that seems to vanish once the dryer warms up?

If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of a squeaky dryer that mysteriously quiets down after a few minutes of operation, you’re not alone. This common household annoyance can leave you wondering about the cause and whether it’s something you should be concerned about. In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons behind why your dryer squeaks until it warms up.

Why Does My Dryer Squeak Until It Warms Up?

1. Problems with Drum Glides

Drum glides, also known as drum slides or drum pads, are essential components found in various types of appliances, particularly in washing machines and dryers.

Drum glides in a dryer, also known as drum slides or drum pads, serve to reduce friction between the drum and the dryer’s front and rear bulkheads. They help the drum rotate smoothly and quietly.

Over time, drum glides can wear out due to the constant friction and movement within the appliance. If you notice unusual noises, such as squeaking or grinding, when your washing machine or dryer is in use, it could be a sign that the drum glides need replacement. Regular maintenance and inspection can help extend the lifespan of these components.

2. Faulty Dryer Motor

The dryer’s motor is engineered to operate with minimal friction because it has a seal ball or roller bearings. Most dryers have a shaft and a pulley that enables the belt to move and turn the drum.

However, some are made with direct-drive motors that spin the drum without needing a belt. Regardless of the kind, they will squeal or squeak if the bearing wears or dries out.

You can know if the motor produces a sound if it shuts off for a while to cool down and then cycles on. You should note that the motor cannot work if the bearing fails.

  • Use a screwdriver to remove the clips used to mount the motor and remove the motor.
  • You should find a blower wheel or a fan at the back of the motor. Loosen it using a wrench. Turn the driveshaft using the same wrench as you hold the blower wheel in place.
  • This repair will need you to remove the dryer’s back panel by removing the screws attached to the backside of the dryer.
  • When this is done, you will have access to the air duct.
  • This duct is held in place by a couple of screws which you will have to unscrew to remove the air duct.
  • When you remove the air duct, you expose the blower wheel, and you need to set it aside.
  • Open all the tabs in the motor bracket to disconnect the wire harness that reinforces the motor.
  • Extract the old motor and replace it with the new one.
  • Connect the harness wire to the new motor, install the blower wheel, and use clamps to hold the motor.
  • Reinsert the air duct and back panel, reposition the drum, and reinsert the drum belt through the idler pulley and around the motor pulley.

3. Drum Bearings

The rear drum bearing and the rear support shaft reinforce the rear of the drum and ensure that it rotates properly. Dryer manufacturers use various materials to make the bearings, such as metal, spindle and sleeve, plastic, nylon, bushings, ball and socket, ball bearings, or a combination.

The drum bearing is located at the center of the rear drum, with one part mounted on the rear drum and the other to a support frame at the back of the cabinet.

Worn-out drum bearings may screech, grind, or squeal like the glides. The noise will only stop if the drum is idle.  A faulty motor can have issues rotating the drum.

  • Remove the belt from the dryer and extract the drum from its housing.
  • You will find the drum glide bearings along the edges of the drum. Remove the two elongated locking tabs located at the ends of the bearings if they are worn out.
  • You will need pliers to help pinch the locking tabs as you remove them.
  • Align the two locked tabs at the end of the bearings with the openings found along the sides of the drum. Then, insert the prongs then replace the felt seal on the front panel. You can do this easily by removing the old seal and pushing the new seal through the channel housing, and holding it in place with the retaining clips.
  • Re-sit the drum and reconnect the belt.

Why Does My Dryer Squeak Until It Warms Up?

4. Drum Support Rollers

The drum is held in place by drum glides in the front and a bearing in the back; four drum support rollers support its body.

These support rollers operate like rubber wheels with a bearing at the center. A shaft or bolt holds the bearing in place that secures it to the bracket.

If the rubber wheels or their bearings wear, the drum will start squeaking continuously or at intervals as the drum heats up or if loads are added.

5. Drive Belt

A drive belt goes around the exterior of the drum and the motor pulley. When you turn the driver on, the motor turns the pulley that rotates the drive belt and turns the drum.

Since the belt makes many rotations when the dryer is on, it can cause whooshing and thumping sounds when the frayed sections of the belt hit the drum.

Dryers also operate at high temperatures; therefore, it is uncommon for the belt to wear or crack over time. You can also hear a squeaking sound if the belt is slipping from the pulley. Here is how you can troubleshoot your dryer drive belt:

  • Extract the lint trap insert and remove the two screws that connect the lid to the dryer’s frame.
  • This will allow you to open the top of the dryer using a putty knife.
  • Next, remove the lid and use a screwdriver to extract the locking tab on the wire harness tab.
  • Then, remove the screws and the front panel. Conduct this step using a nut driver to ease your work.
  • You will slide off the old belt and insert a new one around the drum.
  • Use the remaining belt slack to thread through the idler pulley and around the motor pulley; then, you will have successfully replaced the belt.
  • Replace the front panel and connect the wire harness plug.
  • Return the lid, return the screws to the lint catch housing, and replace the lint trap.

6. Blower Fan or Wheel

The fan can be made of plastic, metal, or nylon and its purpose is to draw in the air if the dryer is heated.

The fan pushes the heated air through the drum and the vent. The motor shaft steers the blower, and after a while, it may start to collect lint and debris.

Dirt can destroy the fan, causing squeaking or thump noises.

7. Loose Parts

Loose screws can cause jingles and rattling of the parts that have been loosened. Metallic objects that fall out of pockets can also get into the perforations and cause screeching and squeaking noises.

Why Does My Dryer Squeak Until It Warms Up?

8. Felt Seal

Felt seals are used to secure the edges of the rear drum of most dryers and the front of some models. It covers the sides where the cylinders come into contact with the top and bottom of the drum.

The felt cushions the moving parts and ensures no abrasion on the stationary housing, thus, limiting the flow of unheated air into the drum.

If the felt seal dries out, it becomes shiny and causes a squealing sound as the drum moves.  If it is worn out, it causes abrasion that causes screeching and thumping of the metallic parts.

Note that if the seal dries out, your clothes may be snagged in the gap, or they will sustain black or brown marks if they rub against the unsealed edge.

9. Motor Idler Wheel or Pulley

The primary function of the pulley is to provide tension for the drive belt. The pulley also has a bearing to move with minimal friction.

If the bearing wears out, the pulley will produce a squealing sound that eventually becomes scraping if the issue is not fixed.

  • Remove the front panel and remove the wire harness plug.
  • Then, unthread the drum belt from the idler pulley.
  • Note that the pulley sits independently in a small bracket found at the bottom of the dryer.
  • Detach it from the bracket housing.
  • Replace the idler pulley and thread it with the drum belt and around the motor pulley, and you are good to go.

10. Lifters or Baffles

In a clothes dryer, lifters or baffles are components inside the drum that help to tumble and agitate the clothes during the drying cycle. These lifters or baffles serve several important purposes:

  • Lifters or baffles help ensure that the clothes inside the dryer drum are evenly distributed. As the drum rotates, the lifters lift the clothes up and then allow them to drop back down. This motion helps prevent clothes from clumping together and promotes even drying.
  • By keeping the clothes constantly moving, lifters or baffles can reduce drying times. This not only saves energy but also helps prevent over-drying, which can damage clothes and increase energy consumption.

Baffles or lifters can be either molded plastic or metal inside the drum so that the movement of the drum makes them lift and tumble the clothes, and expose them to heated air.

Baffles can be removable; therefore, they will produce squeaky sounds during the drying process.

If you put in a big load, the baffles may tumble on each other, can cause the drum to slip within the drive belt, and will be accompanied by a squeaking sound.

If you notice any issues with the lifters or baffles, such as breakage or detachment, it’s essential to address them promptly. Damaged or missing lifters can lead to uneven drying or strange noises such as squeaking.

Final thoughts

Dryers have many parts that are bound to wear over time, causing squeaking sounds.

Your dryer squeaks before it warms up because of worn-out parts, such as drum support rollers, idler pulley, motor, blower, and front glides. When these parts become old, they fail to function correctly, thus causing friction that makes different parts rub against each other, leading to annoying sounds.

The easiest way to get rid of the squeak is to remove the worn-out parts and replace them with new ones.

You can also ensure that your dryer balances well on the ground to avoid rattling. But if your dryer is old and the repairs are costly, purchase a new one. 

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