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Diagnose a Noisy Dryer Belt | Ultimate Guide!

Are there strange sounds coming out of your dryer? Having to suddenly listen to squealing or thumping noises while doing your laundry certainly isn’t a pleasant experience. The good news is that these sounds can help you identify some problems with your dryer before they become severe.

In many cases, the dryer belt will be the reason behind a loud dryer. However, the belt is not the only component of the dryer that can start making some disturbing noises. We are going to look at all potential issues that could cause this, and we’ll discuss how to fix them.

A snap can mean the belt broke. Sliding or scraping indicates an ill-fitting belt. Squeaking or squealing indicates a loose belt that is affecting other parts of the dryer. Loose, broken, or sliding belts also cause a thumping sound. Not all sounds heard are attributable to a dryer belt.

You Heard a Snap

If you are lucky (or in this case unlucky) enough to be near your dryer when its belt breaks, you would probably be able to hear a snapping noise coming from the dryer.

heard a snap

How can you be sure that you did not imagine the noise but that the belt actually snapped? A broken belt is unable to spin the drum, so if your dryer drum suddenly stops turning, there is doubt that the belt broke.

The good news is that a broken belt doesn’t usually mean that you need to buy a whole new appliance; dryer belts are replaceable. You just need to find out what size of a belt you need and either do the replacement yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.

Note: there are some instances in which buying a new dryer would be more worthwhile.

Alternative Explanation

But what if you hear a snap and yet, the drum keeps turning?

The most likely culprit is the clothing itself. Any zips, buttons, or forgotten items could theoretically hit the drum as it turns and make a clicking or snapping sound that repeats in regular intervals.

However, if this were to happen, you would most likely hear the difference and be able to recognize where the noise is coming from.

Sliding or Scraping Sounds

If your belt is making sliding or scraping noises, it probably means that you have an ill-fitting belt. It might be that the belt installed is too long or too narrow for the pulley system. Or perhaps the belt used to fit perfectly, but it stretched and loosened over time.

A belt that doesn’t properly fit can slip off the pulley and, depending on its new location, start making various noises, one of which being the annoying scraping. Or, if the pulley system is designed for a wide belt, your narrow belt could be sliding side to side on the pulley system.

Either way, all you can do from here is inspect the belt and make sure that it is the right size and still fits. If it doesn’t, prepare to invest in its replacement. Luckily, this part is typically not too expensive.

It’s also not very difficult. Here’s a video that shows how to do it, but you can also check out my DIY guide for more details and tips.

Alternative Explanation

Before we blame any scraping and sliding sounds on the belt, we need to inspect other possible causes. It doesn’t always have to be the belt behind every noise.

The alternative is that the front drum glides have worn out. Depending on the design of the dryer, the front drum glides can be either located on the front panel, the bulkhead, or the drum.

When they wear out, the drum comes into direct contact with either the bulkhead or the front panel, and it starts making unpleasant scraping and grinding noises.

To prevent yourself from a guaranteed headache, you should make sure the glides are in good condition and replace them if they seem worn out.

The last possible reason for grinding and scraping sounds coming out of your dryer is that the drum bearing at the back of the dryer is worn out. However, this only applies to some dryers as not all of them have this bearing.

Squeaking or Squealing Noises

Although squeaking and squealing are rarely solely caused by the dryer belt alone, this component is often part of the reason behind these sounds.

The belt could be causing other mechanisms involved in turning the belt and the drum, such as the pulley and the rollers, to squeal or squeak. “How?” you may ask.

internal stracture of machine

If the belt is too loose, it can cause the drum to “slip.” This will, in turn, end up in the drum rollers and the pulley itself moving faster than usual and possibly starting squealing or squeaking and even becoming worn out much faster than they should.

The belt could also slip off the pulley and start making squealing sounds as it still tries to rotate the drum.

Alternative Explanation

Even if nothing is wrong with the belt, the drum rollers and axles can fail due to the high friction and rotation speed they’re being subjected to whenever the dryer is running.

Drum rollers have bearings that rotate around the axles. When these bearings start decaying, they begin to make a squeaky noise, which eventually evolves into a thumping sound as the bearings’ condition worsens.

Worn-out drum rollers can often scratch up the axles as well. If that is the case, it is necessary to replace both the rollers and the axles.

However, if you catch the problem in time, the axles will likely be undamaged and won’t need replacing. But it is important to inspect them regardless.

As for the drum roller replacement, the general rule is if you need to replace one roller, you should replace all the other drum rollers in the dryer together with it as a set.

I don’t recommend trying to lubricate the rollers to stop squeaking. Lubricants like WD-40 are flammable and more likely to trap more lint and dirt, which will further hinder the rotations of the rollers

The last possible reason is that the bearings inside a drive motor failed and are now causing squealing whenever the motor is running.

The motor is supposed to spin freely, so if you open up your disconnected dryer, you should be easily able to spin the motor manually. If you notice any difficulties or unusual resistance, it’s a sign to replace it.

Dryer Is Making a Thumping Noise

Thumping is one of the most common signs caused by a problematic dryer belt. It usually signifies that the belt has snapped, slipped off, started cracking, been otherwise damaged, or is too loose.

thumping noise of dryer

Now, if the belt only slipped off, it would be reasonable to think that the way to remedy the situation is to put it back into place and call it a day.

However, if you want to make sure the belt won’t start causing noise, slip off, or break right after you turn the dryer back on, you should check it for any visible signs of wear and tear and replace it if you find any.

If this incident repeats, you need to figure out why the belt keeps slipping off in the first place. It is possible the belt was wrongly installed, the motor has short-circuited, or the pulley system has failed. But the most likely reason is that the belt is too loose.

Dryer belts need to be under a certain amount of tension to be able to turn the drum properly. Thus, a loose belt could also make a rhythmic thumping noise as it keeps expanding and contracting while struggling to turn the drum.

As you have probably already guessed, you will need to replace the belt in either of these predicaments (unless it slipped but isn’t damaged in any way). You cannot tighten dryer belts if they are stretched.

Alternative Explanation

If the belt passed all inspections and, for once, doesn’t seem to be the source of the problem, it is time to check out the blower wheel.

The blower wheel can cause noise when it gets clogged up. Furthermore, one of its blades could be broken and thud against the blower housing each time it rotates. Therefore, the blower wheel either needs to be cleaned or replaced.

As we have briefly mentioned, drum roller bearings and axles that have failed completely can also make a thumping noise. Even a torn or worn drum seal could be the culprit, in which case it needs replacing.

Table Summary for Diagnosing a Noisy Dryer Belt

SoundBelt related issueSolutionAlternative diagnoses
Snapping NoiseThe belt broke.Replace the belt.Hard parts of the clothing are clicking against the drum in regular intervals.
Sliding or Scraping SoundsWrong size or loose belt sliding around or has slipped off.Put the belt back into place if it only slipped off but isn’t loose, damaged, or ill-fitting. If it is stretched out or the wrong size, replace it.The front drum glides are worn-out, and the drum is grinding against its support. Drum bearing at the back worn out.
Squeaking and SquealingLoose belt.Find and install a belt that fits properly. Inspect drum rollers, axles, and idler pulley and replace them if worn out.Drum roller bearings, axles, or idler pulley are worn out.
Thumping NoisesLoose, frayed, broken, burnt, or cracked belt.Inspect the belt and replace it if damaged.Drum roller bearings have failed completely. A blower wheel is clogged, or one of its blades is broken and keeps hitting the blower housing. The drum seal has torn.  


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