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Dryer Belt: Which Side Against the Drum?

Which side of a new dryer belt should be against the drum is something people often only think about when hovering over the drum and realizing there are actually two options. Don’t worry; we’ve all been in similar—if not the exact same—situations. “Why didn’t I pay attention while I was taking this thing apart?” is something that I have said on more than one occasion!

Happily, after reading this article, you will either know which side down your new dryer belt goes, or you will at least know how to find out for certain. 


Most, if not all, dryers put the grooved side against the drum. Grooves help grip the drum. To ensure the new belt is installed correctly, match the belt to the dryer and don’t invert it, watch a video, call the company, or look at the belt marks on the dryer for signs of grooves.

Most Dryers Put Grooves Against the Drum

While I have heard of dryers that put the flat side against the drum, all the dryers that I have had experience with or which I have researched more in-depth have all put the grooved side down. 

When actually thinking about it, this makes a lot of sense in my mind because a flat surface is typically more slippery than a rougher or uneven surface. 

Now, I did say that I have heard of exceptions, but I will talk about these a little later on in the article. First, let’s look at how the grooves improve the grip on the drum. 

Grooves Meant to Grip the Drum

A motorized pulley system drives the rotation of your dryer’s drum, but this pulley system is absolutely useless without a dryer belt

pulley system of washing machine

The belt is made of rubber, so it naturally grips the metal drum through friction. But with the appliances’ function depending on this grip, and with smooth metal providing relatively little traction, manufacturers provide an additional mechanism for helping your dryer belt to hold onto and turn the drum. This mechanism is the grooved design. 

As such, it makes sense for the grooves to be drum-side down and, as mentioned, this is the way that most manufacturers use their belts.

The grooves are able to spread slightly and then squeeze together to better grip the drum. Because they run parallel to the drum, it also helps to prevent the belt from slipping from side to side. This sideways movement could cause it to slip off of the pulley.  

Which Side Down on Drive and Idler Pulleys?

Drive pulleys are directly connected to motors and provide the impetus or drive (hence the name) for turning the drum. 

There is also an idler pulley that moves to take up any slack in the belt. 

The way that the pulley system works means that whatever side is against the drum is the side that will be against the drive pulley, but the belt loops “upside-down” over the idler pulley.

Having the grooved side against the drive pulley ensures that the force required to overcome the belt’s inertia is achieved and the belt doesn’t just slip over the pulley without actually turning it. Moreover, the drive pulley is typically grooved itself to match the grooves of the belt.

Idler pulleys work differently. As they can move up and down, they can increase or decrease the tension required to keep the belt from slipping on the idler’s wheel component. This means that having the belt’s flat side running over this wheel is just fine. 

Are Some Dryers Flat Side Against Drum?

As mentioned above, some dryers reportedly require the flat side of the dryer belt to be against the drum. I have heard this about some older Maytag dryer models as well as dryers from Admiral, Crosley, and Magic Chef. 

However, I have never used these dryer brands, so I cannot say for sure if this is true. 

Unless the pulley systems of these dryers differ from the standard set-up, flat-side down just doesn’t make sense. 

pulley system washing machine

So, because there is the slightest bit of doubt about which way your dryer belt should go, you can try the following to confirm it (although I’d be very tempted to just install it groove-side down):

  • Dryer belts are relatively rigid loops, which means that there is an inside and an outside and you have to consciously invert them to switch which side faces upward. If you buy the belt designed specifically for your make and model of dryer, then whatever side is on the inside is most likey the side that should go against the dryer.
  • Call the manufacturer to ask. Unfortunately, this information is not often present in the owner’s manual for most dryers.
  • Look for a belt replacement video for your dryer and see which way they install the belt. 
  • Look at the markings on the drum. As the rubber grips and spins the drum, it creates black markings. You can sometimes see the marks of the grooves on the drum. 

Dryer Belt Replacement Tips

  • Check the condition of the pulley while the dryer is open. This helps determine if the problem is simply just the dryer belt, or if your dryer is not working because of another reason. If the belt snapped because the pulley is broken, then the new one will also snap for the same reason
  • Clean the inside of the machine while the dryer is open. Lint and dust can build up and interfere with the functioning of different dryer parts including the pulley system and the rollers (they can get jammed and stop working).
  • Make sure to line the new belt up with the old belt marks on the drum so ensure it fits exactly as it should. Remember: grooves should be facing down onto the drum.
  • Practice looping the belt back onto the pulley while the drum is out. This can help you when your vision is impaired by the drum when you install the belt inside the machine.
  • If not making use of a professional to replace your dryer belt, look for a demonstration video like the two examples provided below. Dryer belt replacement is actually rather easy and a good video is all you need to pull off a very successful DIY job.

Sources

https://applianceassistant.com/Dryer-Repair/Dryer-Belt-Pulley-Installation.php

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9O5lzHYn_M

https://www.fixya.com/support/t24426720-when_replacing_tumble_dryer_flat_belt

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