Did you recently replace the dryer belt (a.k.a. the drum belt) on your clothes dryer and find it a bit too tight when pulling it over the drum, idler pulley, and the motor pulley? A little tension is good and expected from a working dryer belt, but it shouldn’t be too tight. So, how can you tell if the stress on the dryer belt is too much?
Here are 7 signs your dryer belt is too tight:
- The dryer belt doesn’t have any flex.
- The belt is cracking up.
- The dryer drum spins slowly.
- Your clothes don’t dry properly.
- You hear noises coming from the dryer.
- The pulleys and bearings have worn out prematurely.
- The motor is overloading.
In the following sections, I’ve provided a deeper look at each of these signs. This should help you know exactly what you’re looking for when trying to troubleshoot a dryer belt that’s too tight.
1. The Dryer Belt Doesn’t Have Any Flex
The most obvious sign that the dryer belt is too tight is if it looks stretched or is otherwise showing signs of high tension and very little flexibility.
Ideally, the dryer belt should encompass the drum without squeezing it too tightly or having a loose grip. It should have some give, allowing you to comfortably slide at least one finger under the belt without any issue.
However, if the belt securely holds onto the drum showing zero flex, it’s a tell-tale sign that it is installed too tightly and the elastic is being stretched to its highest limits.
2. The Belt Is Cracking Up
A dryer belt doesn’t technically need to be at the tipping point of its elasticity to be considered “too tight.” Sometimes, just being a bit tighter than necessary is enough to start causing problems for the belt and the clothes dryer as a whole.
As such, another sign of a highly tensed dryer belt is cracking up.
Now, a dryer belt will naturally start losing its elasticity and cracking up with time. However, if a new belt is tightly secured around the drum and it’s still showing some cracks, it’s likely too tight and starting to break.
3. The Dryer Drum Spins Slowly
If the drum is spinning slowly, it could be a sign that the dryer belt is too tight.
Underneath the drum, there’s a system of glides, front rollers, rear rollers, and bearings, which supports the drum as it spins.
With this in mind, if the dryer belt is tightly fitted on the drum, it will exert extra downward pressure on the drum, creating extra resistance between the drum and the roller system. Because of this, the drum will spin more slowly than normal.
4. Your Clothes Don’t Dry Properly
If your clothes don’t fully dry inside the dryer, it could signal various faults in the device, one of which is a tight belt.
A dryer dries clothes by circulating hot air inside the drum. However, the drum also needs to spin so that the clothes get jumbled up and equally exposed to the hot drying air.
If the drum starts to spin more slowly because of a tight belt, the clothes won’t get adequately exposed to the air. As such, some clothes that were less exposed to the dry air will stay partially wet.
5. You Hear Noises Coming From the Dryer
Different noises coming from the dryer can mean different things.
If you hear a tight squeal coming from the dryer as soon as you turn it on, along with some rumbling noises throughout the drying process, it could mean the dryer belt is on too tightly.
You see, the dryer belt is installed so that it covers the entire drum and then loops around the motor pulley and idler pulley. The idler pulley is tasked with putting tension on the belt, whereas the motor pulley is connected to the motor and drives the belt, which, in turn, spins the drum.
Now, if the belt is too tight, it will restrict the movement of the drum and the pulleys. However, the motor will try to spin the drum with all its power. As a result, you’ll hear a squealing sound due to all the resistance and friction.
6. The Pulleys and Bearings Have Worn Out Prematurely
A dryer belt that’s too tight will also exert unnecessary pressure and friction on the pulleys and bearings that facilitate its motion.
Because of this additional pressure, the pulleys will show early signs of wear and tear.
They might also become slightly loose from their socket. In some cases, the pulleys can break if the pressure is too high.
7. The Motor Is Overloading
If the motor on your dryer is getting overloaded and you hear it making noises and generating a lot of heat, it could mean the dryer belt is too tight.
As we just learned, a tight dryer belt restricts the drum’s movement and the motor pulley, which is connected to the motor. As a result, the motor might overwork to spin the drum, causing it to overload.
This is a serious issue; if you don’t address it quickly, the motor will eventually fail.
How Do I Fix a Dryer Belt That’s Too Tight?
To fix a dryer belt that’s too tight, you’ll need to remove it and then reinstall it, making sure it has the right amount of tension. However, if the dryer belt is tight because it’s too short, you’ll need to buy a replacement dryer belt of the correct length and then install it on your dryer.
You don’t necessarily need to call a professional to help you install a dryer belt. It’s a fairly simple and quick DIY fix.
If you want some guidance, you can take a look at this 4-min YouTube video for reference:
Now, when trying to install the dryer belt, you might find it difficult to ensure the belt has the right tension. In trying not to make it too tight, you might make the dryer belt loose, which also comes with its share of problems.
As such, if you’re facing this uncertainty, I’d recommend using a belt tension gauge like the Gates Krikit Belt Tension Gauge (available on Amazon.com). It can calibrate tension from 100-320 lb (45-145 kg). The device should help install the dryer belt to the manufacturer’s recommended tension setting for optimal performance.