I am a retired appliance repairman with many years of experience. I am excited to share with you what I've learned over the years.
Thumping, Bumping, and Knocking Sounds
Clothes dryers are pretty simple, but they can be confusing at the same time. Be sure to follow safety precautions while working on an appliance.
There are a variety of sounds that a dryer can make that indicate that some sort of service is needed.
The Moving Parts of the Dryer
- Idler (Belt Tensioner)
- Drum Supports (usually some kind of roller or wheel)
Any of these moving parts can begin to make noises that should be attended to in the near future. Failure to repair a noise in a dryer is likely to lead to a more serious problem. For example, a bad roller may start making a noise when it has reached the end of its service life; failure to replace the roller could result in damage to the drum, bearing, heating element, etc.
Common Noises and Their Probable Causes
Here are several common noises you may hear coming from your dryer and issues that may be causing them.
Problem: The dryer makes a thumping noise which is rhythmic. You hear, "thump, thump, thump," and it continues.
Cause: The most likely cause for this noise is a bad support or roller. The roller may not be turning as designed or has developed a flat spot on one of the surfaces, or the bearing in the support has ceased to work and has worn completely through, and it is riding irregularly on the spindle.
Problem: The dryer makes a "card in the spokes" sound. Remember when you used to put a playing card on your bicycle with a clothespin to make that trilling sound? If you hear this in your dryer, it may not be a good sign.
Cause: The most likely cause for this noise is something has gotten into the blower wheel, or the blower wheel has come loose, especially in a Maytag dryer. If you hear this noise, get closer to the blower housing and see if you can determine if the noise is coming from the blower. Quite often, the obstruction is a small plastic toy or an ink pen. This will need to be removed from the blower.
Problem: The dryer is making a screeching or high-pitched sound.
Cause: The most likely cause for this noise is a metal sound. The drum support is not rolling and instead is scraping the spindle. The bearing on the drum is worn, and the drum is riding low and scraping on the door opening or on the element enclosure.
This problem should be fixed before you operate your dryer again. This indicates the beginning of a serious problem that could cost a lot because the whole door panel or element enclosure might need to be replaced if the problem is ignored.
Problem: Squealing and bumping intermittent sound. The drum turns a complete rotation before you hear the bumping noise.
Cause: The most likely cause for this noise is the belt or idler (tensioner). If the belt is badly worn and a chunk of it is missing, the belt will make a thump each time it passes over the motor pulley. Also, the squealing could emanate from the idler where the idler pulley is dry, and the belt is squealing as it passes over the idler pulley.
This problem can be solved by replacing the belt and cleaning and lubricating the idler pulley. Squealing can occur if the support rollers are dry; check them, too.
Problem: Noises like scraping are coming out of the front of the dryer from around the door.
Cause: The most likely causes for this noise are worn bearings that work like glides or slides where slick plastic is used to ride over other plastic parts; when they become worn, they are designed to make a scraping noise.
It is important to have the dryer repaired before continued use. The bearings typically cost around 20 or 30 dollars. The whole front cowling is more like a hundred dollars or more, and the labor for this repair will be 40 or 50 dollars.
Problem: Metal on metal scraping and screeching sounds. Sometimes you get a scrape that lasts a 1/2 second or so.
Cause: The most likely cause for this noise is badly worn bearings that allow the drum to ride low and scrape against the metal supports or the element enclosure. Stop using the dryer immediately as the sound indicates a condition that will ruin the dryer or at the least be very expensive to repair.
Other Sounds and What They Might Be
Whistling may indicate a full or plugged lint filter. Clean it out. Buzzing when the start switch is pressed usually indicates that the timer is set to an off position. Make sure the door is closed. Reposition the timer to the 30 minute timed setting and try again.
Humming when the start switch is pressed usually indicates that the motor is bad. If this is an intermittent problem but is getting worse, the motor is probably bad and needs to be replaced.
Loud knocking repeated after a pause usually indicates that someone is at the front door. Go to the door and find out who it is. If it is a friend, open the door, this will completely solve the problem. If the knockers are two young men dressed in suits, they are probably from Utah. They are not dangerous; you may open the door and tell them to go away.
If the knockers are two women and a child nicely dressed and sweetly looking at your door, carefully check to see if they are carrying anything that says "Watchtower." If they are, they must be discouraged, or they will be back again and again. If the knockers are arriving in costumes, especially ghosts and witches, you have forgotten Halloween again, run to the store and get some candy.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Laurel on January 13, 2020:
Ha Ha! Great advice on answering the door! You described my dryer noise pretty accurately.Thanks!
Kevin on January 07, 2020:
Haha great, knock at the front door!!! I’ll get a new belt after reading this, thanks!
Tolkupois on January 12, 2019:
It's two months later, but I just read the last post. Something supporting the drum has worn out. Careful. There's a flame down there. Your clothes can be scorched! I ruined a nice sports jersey when my drum sagged like that.
My support wheels at the rear wore out, and consequently wore out the nylon type skids in the front causing the drum to sag. Also a seal burned and allowed enough heat through to burn a switch.
I manged to fix the problem by replacing the drum suport wheels, and the skids. The wheels were relatively easy to swap out. The skids were more of a challange, which involved drilling out several rivets, then intalling the new skid kits with provided rivets and a rivet installing tool. Of couse I had to replace the burned seal and switch as well.
Em on November 06, 2018:
My dryer makes one loud metal popping sound about 3 minutes into the dry cycle, every cycle. Also clothes get stuck up in between something (assume the drum) and the front of the dryer. What do you think is wrong with it?
Dorothy Whitlow on July 27, 2018:
My dryer works fine but makes a screeching noise the whole time it runs and other times just part of the timSame kind of clothes run. Live on social security so don/t have a lot of money for repairs. What do you think is wrong?
Oakster on June 13, 2018:
Fantastic article! Front door knock is the best, haha!
Tom on January 23, 2018:
My dryer is making an intermitting screeching noise
email@example.com on June 04, 2017:
I get a loud thumping/rattling noise that sounds like the drum is off track but only when I first turn on my dryer. Looks like there are several parts for me to try but would love to make an accurate first guess. Can you help?
M on February 05, 2017:
My dryer makes a few loud thumping sounds then it quiets down...sometimes it makes a squeaking noise also.
jerry schwendeman on December 04, 2016:
Drier doesn't get clothes 100 percent dry- usually have to re do the driyng.
Also sounds like a loose screw inside the drum.
MaryAnn on October 12, 2016:
My dryer is making a screeching noise. Should I be using it?
Emily on September 08, 2016:
My dryer has. Buzzing sound what could it be ?
Determined on May 12, 2016:
Kenmore stackable replaced the dryer belt. When putting the front panel back, I cannot get the panel to completely fit onto the dryer drum. It needs to move in about 1/2". Now the drum is very hard to turn as it is dragging on the lip. All the screws are in place and I don't know how to get it into place. Any ideas??
Humor on August 23, 2014:
Loved the "other sounds...." section. The "loud knocking..." was my favorite. Thanks for the smile
dadgoesincircles on January 17, 2012:
Had the "card in spokes" noise in my often repaired and resurrected Roper clothes dryer. Turned out to be a screw that had somehow gotten lodged into the felt gasket around the front of the drum. Simple 5 minute fix with no $$ spent. Thanks for the what to look for.
Susie on January 02, 2012:
My husband just fixed our MAytag dryer. Was making noise like cards on bike spokes. He tipped it and banged it on the floor a few times and all of a sudden it sounded like breaking glass and it turned out there was a bunch of change stuck in the motor! Now it's quiet as a lamb
prisch on February 24, 2011:
I have a thumping sound that occurs at the top of the drum rotation. Any ideas? Could it be a flat spot on the roller or a chunk out of the belt?
whitton on January 17, 2011:
Another great Hub from you SteveoMc! Very informative and useful information here.
SteveoMc (author) from Pacific NorthWest on August 21, 2010:
Thanks for reading all my hubs Allan, HOpe you keep following and would love to have your continued comments. Gives knock, knock a new meaning.
Allan Douglas from Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee on August 21, 2010:
I do believe (hope, pray) you've told me what to look for as the source of the intermittent screeching noise in our dryer, I guess it's not a crow stuck in the vent afterall!
PS, LOVE the intermittent knocking section at the end! Thanks for the good chuckle.
SteveoMc (author) from Pacific NorthWest on July 04, 2010:
I know what you mean about the old sneaker and pocket items that still happens at our house. But the nasty other little noises that come out of a dryer are the most concerning. If you have a squeak or scrape, it is good to have an idea about what it means and what sort of an appliance repair you might need on your washer dryer.
Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on June 03, 2010:
When my dryer makes odd noises, it always seems to turn out to be something left in a pocket or a sneaker. But these are valuable clues when those are not the culprits! Thanks Steve.
I voted for your article! So glad you won!!! Way to go!! Talent will out!!
SteveoMc (author) from Pacific NorthWest on June 02, 2010:
Thank you BJ, did you also see that my article was named the hubnugget for this week. Woohoo! On a roll.
Holle Abee from Georgia on June 01, 2010:
I'm making hubby read this!
BJBenson from USA on June 01, 2010:
So happy for you , 100!