If your dryer has started to make unusual noises or the drum isn’t turning properly and leaving your clothes still wet at the end of a drying cycle, it might be time to replace your dryer belt.
While changing the belt can seem like a daunting process at first, you can get this done yourself quite easily by following the steps outlined in this guide.
The exact method may change slightly depending on the make and model of your dryer, but the fundamental principle is the same, and all you need are some basic hand tools and a little knowledge.
Why Does A Dryer Belt Need Changing?
Even with moderate use, dryers generally last a very long time, but the dryer belt is a common component to wear down and requires replacing.
As the belt wears down, you will notice a dramatic reduction in the efficiency of your dryer, and it may start to make unusual clunking sounds as it operates.
1. Natural Wear and Tear
The dryer belt relies on friction to turn the drum. As with any component that has a point of contact with another component, they will naturally wear down over time.
So depending on how frequently you use your dryer and how heavily you load up your drum, the belt may wear down faster and require replacing sooner.
2. Wrong Belt Type Used
This is probably not an issue you’ll run into if you purchased your washer new from the manufacturer. But if you have a used dryer where the belt has already been replaced, they may have installed the wrong-sized belt for your dryer type.
For example, a dryer that needs a belt rated for a 20lbs load fitted with a belt rated for a 10lbs load may work for a while, but it will inevitably put more strain on the appliance and need replacing sooner.
3. Belt Installed Too Lightly
Dryer drive belts must be installed with just the right amount of tension to operate efficiently. Too loose and the drum might slip and not spin properly, but too tight and it causes excessive strain on the belt and will cause it to wear down faster or potentially tear.
4. Dryer is Overloaded
Most dryer manufacturers do not recommend filling their wash drum the entire way. This is because it puts more strain on the components, including the belt, and accelerates the speed at which it will wear down.
If you like to run huge wash loads, that extra weight will surely wear the belt down faster.
5. Damaged Felt Seal
You may have noticed that on the inside of the dryer door is a felt seal. This is designed to reduce the amount of friction that’s caused when the drum spins.
Once again, as this is a point of contact and, therefore, a point of friction, this too can wear down over time or become damaged if it’s knocked.
Once the felt seal stops working, it means the washer drum makes direct contact with the front panel, which increases the amount of friction produced, putting extra strain on both the motor and dryer belt.
6. Drum Rollers aren’t Moving
The drum rollers are designed to assist the drum as it spins, so all of the stress isn’t put onto the motor or belt.
Over time these rollers can wear down and develop flat spots on them, meaning that for brief periods during the rotation, they no longer support the drum, which then passes the workload onto the dryer belt, causing it to wear down.
7. A Blockage in the Blower Wheel
While the blower wheel doesn’t directly interact with the dryer belt, if it gets clogged up due to a lint buildup, for example, it won’t be able to distribute the heat around the dryer drum properly.
This then forces the heat out of the back of the blower wheel and into the various components inside the dryer, which includes the belt. This slow heating of the belt can cause it to expand and slip or create extra drag, accelerating the rate at which it wears down.
8. Buildup of Lint or Dirt
Most dryers utilize a lint filter or lint trap, designed to catch the small clothing and dust fibers that get pulled from the clothes, which like to bundle up and cause clogs in the dryer.
The lint filter needs to be cleaned out intermittently in order to keep things functioning. So if it’s been neglected for a while, the lint will head into the other components of the dryer, causing blockages.
These blockages can reduce the dryer’s efficiency, create additional friction points, and cause extra strain on the dryer belt. Needless to say, keeping the dryer clean and lint-free at all times is a good idea for the overall health of the appliance!
How to Change a Faulty Dryer Belt?
Now that you have a solid idea of what causes a clothes dryer belt to wear down and require changing, it’s time to install the new belt. This isn’t as difficult as it seems and can be performed with some basic tools.
However, it’s important to note that the exact process will differ from model to model, so if any steps here don’t make sense, it’s best to refer to your user manual.
1. Unplug the Dryer and Turn Off Gas
Before working on any machine, you should always turn off the power supply to eliminate the risk of an electric shock as you work. Remove the power cable from the wall outlet and/or turn it off at the circuit breaker.
Additionally, if you are using a gas dryer, it’s also a good idea to turn the gas valve off.
2. Setup Your Working Area
To correctly change the faulty dryer belt, you need unhindered access to the machine. So now is a good opportunity to gather your tools, get your new belt ready and slide the dryer away from the wall so you have full access to the entire machine.
3. Remove the Lint Filter
If your lint filter is not mounted to the top of your dryer, you can skip this step. Otherwise, the lint filter must be removed before the top panel can be removed.
Using a screwdriver, remove the two screws that hold it in place, then pull the filter out and set it aside.
4. Remove the Side Access Panels
This is where things will need to be done differently depending on what kind of dryer you have. There will be a series of fasteners, screws, or buttons around the edges of the panels, which secure them to the dryer cabinet. Remove these and then remove the panels.
If it’s unclear how to do this, you should refer to your user manual or check online for instructions specific to your dryer model.
5. Remove the Top Panel
Once the side panels are removed, you can remove the top control panel. You can usually do this by sliding a flat object under the seam, such as a putty knife, and slowly working it around the seam until all the clips unfasten and the top panel pops off.
Don’t lift it all the way up just yet!
6. Remove all Electrical Harnesses
Your top control panel may be attached to the main chassis by some electrical cables, as it’s how the control panel communicates with the components inside the dryer. Carefully check under the top for any electrical connections and disconnect them before lifting the lid off.
7. Remove the Old Belt
Sometimes the belt may have already snapped off and will be sitting at the bottom of the dryer; pull it out and discard it. If the belt is still attached to the drum, you can just remove it yourself.
It’s a good idea to check the serial number inside the old drum belt to ensure your new one matches it.
8. Install the New Belt
Your belt should have enough slack to wrap around the drum easily; make sure it fits snugly in the allocated groove in the exact same position as the previous belt.
9. Attach the Belt to the Motor and Idler Pullies
Using the extra slack, wrap the belt around the dryer motor pulley, which is the small wheel next to the drum. There should be a clearly allocated groove for the belt to sit inside.
Once that’s completed, the drive belt then has to wrap around the idler pulley, which is situated just above the motor pulley; this will apply the tension to the belt and get everything fitting snugly.
10. Spin the Drum by Hand
Now everything’s installed, you should spin the drum manually and carefully check the belt to ensure it spins smoothly with no slipping and no twists in the drum belt.
11. Reassemble Everything
Now the belt is installed, it’s time to lay the top panel down on the dryer and re-connect the electrical harnesses. Push the top dryer panel down firmly so the clips re-attach.
Then re-install the side panels, push the dryer back into place, and plug it back in. If it’s a gas dryer, now is also a good time to re-open the gas valve.
12. Test the Dryer
The easiest way to test that everything’s running smoothly is to run a test wash cycle without any clothes loaded in for a few seconds.
Check that the drum is spinningly smoothly and that there are no unusual clunking sounds. Providing everything sounds and looks correct; you’re ready to use your dryer as usual again!