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Dryer Belt Keeps Breaking? Here’s Why (+ How to Fix)

Dryer belts aren’t meant to last forever, but you shouldn’t need to replace them for several years under normal circumstances. As such, if you have to replace the dryer belt every few months or even annually, take note that something is not right with your dryer. So, what could be causing the dryer belt to break so often?

Here are 9 reasons why your dryer belt keeps breaking:

  1. The dryer belt is incorrectly installed.
  2. The belt is too tight.
  3. The wrong dryer belt is installed.
  4. The pulley is damaged or worn out.
  5. The dryer is overloaded.
  6. The felt seal is damaged.
  7. The drum rollers have stopped moving.
  8. The blower wheel is clogged up.
  9. The dryer components are dirty and filled with lint.

In this article, I’ll cover these reasons in detail to help you understand why your dryer belt keeps breaking soon after each installation. Following that, I’ve also put together a few relevant sections discussing the signs of a broken dryer belt, what happens when the belt breaks, what you should do about it, and how to stop it from happening in the future.

1. The Dryer Belt Is Incorrectly Installed

Did you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to install the dryer belt?

For instance, you need to ensure the dryer belt is in the correct orientation when placing it over the dryer drum.

The side of the belt that’s smooth should face up or outwards, whereas the side with the grooves and ridges should face down or inwards, touching the drum and the pulleys. This orientation allows the ridges on the belt to lock with the ridges on the pulleys. As a result, you’ll get a secure hold.

However, if the belt is installed in the opposite direction, i.e., the smooth side is inwards, and in direct contact with the pulleys, the grooves will start to wear it down till it eventually breaks.

Other than this, you’ll also need to ensure the dryer belt is properly aligned when you install it. If installed in an off-center fashion, it’ll have to endure a sideways tension each time you use the dryer. The additional strain can lead to tears on the belt, causing it to break sooner than expected.

So, if the dryer belt is improperly installed, it could explain why it’s breaking so frequently.

Here’s a 5-min YouTube video that will show you how to properly install the dryer belt: 

2. The Dryer Belt Is Too Tight

When installing the dryer belt, you need to ensure that it has the right amount of tension. If the dryer belt loosely fits over the drum, it might slip and be unable to spin the drum at the right speed. In contrast, if the belt is too tight, it’ll cause strain on itself as well as the pulleys. This will lead to accelerated wear and tear on both the belt and the pulley system.

As such, it’s super important to ensure the dryer belt has the right tension for optimal performance. You can adjust the tightness of the belt from the idler pulley. 

Ideally, the dryer belt should fit securely over the drum & the pulleys such that they can’t be easily displaced. But at the same time, there should be some give–the belt shouldn’t have its elasticity stretched to the maximum. A good measure is being able to pull the belt high enough to wiggle one finger inside it.

3. The Wrong Dryer Belt Is Installed

Each dryer is built differently and, as such, demands different dryer belts unique to its size, weight, and drying capabilities.

You can’t expect a dryer belt designed for a medium-sized dryer rated for 10lbs (4.5kgs) of load to seamlessly work on a large dryer rated for 20lbs (9kgs). If you do, the dryer meant for the smaller system will break under the demands of the bigger one.

Now, you might be thinking: can I use the dryer belt meant for a larger system to work on a smaller one? Surely it’s more durable and won’t break, right?

Well, yes–it likely will not break–but it will cause other issues and complications for the smaller dryer. You see, dryer belts vary in size, thickness, and material. It might also have uniquely styled grooves and ridges.

As such, it’s super important to pair a dryer with the right dryer belt designed for its make and model. Using the wrong belt can cause various issues, including causing the belt to break prematurely.

4. The Pulley Is Damaged or Worn Out

Because the dryer belt is in constant contact with the motor pulley and the idler pulley, if they are damaged, it can potentially affect the dryer belt causing it to break.

For example, if the idler pulley is damaged or faulty, it might sporadically restrict the movement of the dryer belt, which can create extreme tension. Over time, this can cause the belt to break.

Likewise, the grooves and ridges on the motor pulley will wear down over time. This will make it difficult for the belt to “hold” onto the pulley and might jam it into one side of the motor, which can potentially break the belt and also damage the motor.

The lint can also build up on the pulleys, creating a lot of friction on the belt while spinning. This extra friction will accelerate the deterioration of the belt, wearing it down prematurely. That said, damaged or worn-out pulleys don’t only damage the dryer belt. You’ll also notice other symptoms like the drum stops rotating when it’s loaded but starts spinning when it’s empty.

Damaged pulleys also create a lot of noise, like a squealing sound when you turn on the dryer and sporadic thuds or clunks as the dryer works.

5. The Dryer Is Overloaded

There’s a reason dryers are rated to handle only a certain amount of load. It’s because the internal components can only work with so much weight.

Now, we are all guilty of overloading the dryer from time to time. And it’s okay if it only happens occasionally. But if you routinely overload the dryer, it will strain the belt, causing it to snap.

Also, you’d be surprised to learn how often we overload our dryers. Since we don’t usually weigh the clothes before putting them in, it is easy to accidentally overload the system. We might put in too much stuff or fill up the dryer with several soaking wet clothes (remember, water has weight) that can easily add an extra amount of weight to the dryer.

The extra weight will stress the system as all the components must work harder to dry the load. The dryer belt has to strain as it deals with increased friction trying to roll the overloaded drum, causing it to wear down more quickly.

6. The Felt Seal Is Damaged

You might have noticed a felt seal on the inside of the door to your dryer. Its main purpose is to help stop clothes (or whatever you put inside the dryer) from tumbling and falling into the gap between the drum and the door. In addition to that, it also helps reduce or prevent the friction that might’ve generated from the drum touching the door or front panel.

Now, if the felt seal is damaged or misplaced, the drum can potentially come in contact with the front panel, creating a lot of noise and friction. 

What’s more, depending on how the felt seal is damaged or positioned, it might interfere with the rotation of the drum, further adding to the friction and resistance. This extra friction will increase the stress on the dryer belt. And if this goes on long enough and you don’t fix the felt seal, the dryer belt can snap.

7. The Drum Rollers Have Stopped Moving

Front and rear rollers are positioned underneath the drum to help support its spinning. Now, if the rollers get damaged and stop moving properly, it’ll also affect how your drum spins.

For instance, the drum roller might develop a dent or flat spot with time-related wear and tear. This will prevent it from moving smoothly and cause the drum to experience occasional jerking motions. If this happens, you should also hear a rhythmic thumping noise from your dryer.

Because of the jerking motion, the drum won’t be able to spin with its regular motion, which adds friction to the dryer belt. Also, each time the drum experiences a jerk and jumps, the belt will go through a brief rise in tension.

Now, as you can imagine, if the dryer operates like this for weeks and you don’t repair the drum rollers, it’ll slowly wear down the belt, causing it to eventually break.

8. The Blower Wheel Is Clogged Up

The blower wheel is in charge of circulating the hot air within the dryer, ensuring all the clothes are exposed to the drying heat long enough. It’s also in charge of expelling the heat through the exhaust vent to protect the dryer from getting too hot.

However, as it functions normally, the blower wheel can suck in small objects like socks, hankies, etc. This can potentially clog up the blower wheel, especially if you don’t notice and remove the piece of cloth.

As the blower wheel gets clogged, it’ll create drag on the motor, which will generate heat. Now, as the dryer belt passes near the motor, looping around the motor pulley, it’ll also get heated.

If this issue isn’t fixed, the heat will damage the belt over time, causing it to gradually lose its elasticity and one day just snap!

9. The Dryer Components Are Dirty and Filled With Lint

Going over the reasons mentioned above, you’ll find that the main triggers for the dryer belt breaking are extra friction and tension. As such, if you want the dryer belt to last long, you must ensure that everything is working smoothly.

That said, one thing that can hinder a dryer’s smooth operations is lint build-up. Even if you routinely clean the lint filter on your dryer after each drying cycle, some lint will accumulate inside. If you don’t make it a point to regularly clean out the lint, it’ll slowly start to cover all the internal components of your dryer.

As you can imagine, this will make the dryer less efficient, potentially increasing the drag on the drum. As a result, the tension and friction on the belt will also rise, making it more likely to break.

Other than this, lint can also trap heat. As such, if you have severe lint build-up inside the dryer, it’ll also make the unit extremely hot. If it’s too hot, the elevated temperatures can damage the elasticity of the dryer belt and can cause it to break.

However, you can easily stop all this from happening if you clean your dryer at least once a year or twice if you use the device extensively.

How To Keep a Dryer Belt From Breaking

By now, you should have a good enough understanding of why your dryer belt keeps breaking. So What can you do to stop this from happening?

Here are 5 ways to keep a dryer belt from breaking:

  • Make sure to use a proper belt intended for your dryer. To know which belt is right for your dryer, check the user manual or search the manufacturer’s website.
  • Install the dryer belt in the proper orientation and alignment. Check out the YouTube video in the section above for reference.
  • Don’t overload the dryer. If you need to dry tons of clothes, break them into multiple batches and put them in one at a time, each batch being less than the recommended load. If that is not possible, consider getting a new dryer that can take a heavier load.
  • Regularly clean and service the dryer. You can do it yourself or call a professional for annual or bi-annual maintenance work.
  • Replace broken and worn-out components. Even if the dryer seems to dry your clothes with the malfunctioning part, you should still get it repaired or replaced. A worn-out piece, if left unchecked, will put an unnecessary burden on the other parts, causing them to fail as well.

Author

  • Chris Hewitt

    Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.

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