Sometimes repairs and replacements are made easier by the fact that one part is interchangeable across all models or brands. Dryer belts are just a strip of rubber, so it makes sense to wonder if such a cheap, basic piece can be replaced across all dryers without concern for size.
Unfortunately, things are not always as simple as they may seem. Dryer belts are much more complex than one would think. Let’s explore what makes them so different from each other and why we should not interchange them as we please.
Each dryer belt is specifically designed for a certain type and model of dryer. What type and size of the belt are required depends on the capacity and weight tolerance of the dryer’s drum. Using different belts interchangeably can lead to severe technical issues and cause the belts to snap.
Do All Dryers Use the Same Belt?
Washers and dryers are commonly recognized for their mesmerizing spinning motion. In dryers, this spinning is achieved through the use of a pulley system within the dryer.
A motor within the dryer creates a rotating movement. This is where the dryer belt becomes a crucial part, as it attaches to both a pulley wheel connected to the motor and the drum in order to transfer this rotation from the pulley to the drum.
Depending on your dryer model, however, the parts inside of your appliance will differ slightly in size or shape. Because of this, the required length and width of the belt will also differ from model to model.
How Do Dryer Belts Differ
As mentioned above, different dryers use different belts to suit the size of the other components within the dryer.
Width is one factor that differs between belts. A traditional dryer belt will be ¼ inch wide, but a few models may require a wider or thinner belt.
Length is another quality that may change from belt to belt. Some belts will be 79 inches long, while others will be 88 inches long, and others even might be as long as 92 inches.
Different belts may also have a slightly different groove pattern. If you look at a dryer belt, you will notice that one side is smooth while the other has ridges or grooves.
The grooved side of a dryer belt is meant to slot into the ridges of a pulley wheel. These ridges create an extra surface area, allowing for more friction and better grip between the belt and the pulleys. The ridges also help the belt to grip against the drum, so it must be placed with the grooved side against the drum.
One dryer may have components with smaller or larger grooves than another, or else it may have more or fewer ridges than another. On top of sizing, this is another reason one belt may not fit another dryer properly.
Can All Dryer Belts Be Used Interchangeably?
If you think there is no harm in using dryer belts interchangeably as a small difference in the size cannot cause much damage, you aren’t going to like what I’m about to say.
While yes, a dryer might technically still work even if you end up using the wrong belt, by doing so, you are basically asking for some serious technical issues down the road (and the belt breaking will be the least of your problems at that point).
Any of the characteristics that differ from one belt to the next could make it so that a belt is not compatible with your machine.
A belt could be too long, too thick, too thin, or grooved differently than the belt that is meant to work with your appliance.
Some drums are designed to be able to handle more weight than others, which will also affect what size of a belt is needed. On the other hand, one dryer may simply have a bigger drum than another, requiring a longer belt than the dryer with the smaller drum would.
Similarly, not every motor pulley or idler pulley is made the same. Some are meant to fit wider belts than others and simply will not work effectively with a thinner belt.
So, no–different sizes or types of dryer belts should not be used interchangeably under any circumstances.
What Happens if You Use the Wrong Belt
If you end up going with the wrong belt size as your replacement, you are likely to end up with another broken belt in a few weeks to a few months.
Because each dryer is designed differently, its parts will reflect that. By using an incorrect replacement, you may be putting your dryer’s other parts under strain as they work to compensate.
Using Smaller Belt
If your dryer belt is too short, you may simply be unable to fit it around your drum and onto the pulleys.
However, even if you are able to install a short belt, you will still be putting your dryer’s other components under stress as they resist the tension created.
Think about how it feels when you pull your own belt too tight!
A small belt will put your dryer’s bearings under too much strain. The belt could also cause the misalignment or damage of other parts, such as the pulley system. Or it could even result in motor failure–that is, if the belt itself does not snap first.
Additionally, if your belt is narrower than it should be, then it will not properly fill the space it is meant to fill on your pulleys. This will result in slippage from side to side, creating additional heat and friction that can quickly burn through your belt.
Using Larger Belt
If your belt is too long, you will also have problems. While a long belt will not pull on other parts as a short belt would, it may be too loose to even grip onto them.
A belt that is too loose to grip onto the drum or pulleys will simply rotate over them instead. This will cause your drum to spin very poorly if it rotates at all.
Like a belt that is too narrow, a belt that is too long is also likely to slide around on the drum from side to side or completely slip off, creating additional friction and wear and risking displacement at the same time.
However, a belt that is too wide also runs the risk of displacement, as it could fit poorly over the pulley wheels and may not be appropriately confined between the wheels’ raised edges.
How to Find the Right Dryer Belt
Getting the correct dryer belt is very important, to say the least. Thankfully there are several ways to ensure that you purchase the right replacement.
One of the most direct methods is simply going to be giving the manufacturer a call. While you will need to find and provide your machine’s model number, you are just about guaranteed to get the correct information by contacting the manufacturer.
If you still have your dryer’s manual on hand, checking inside of it is another option for sizing your belt correctly (this is also great if you hate phone calls!). The manual should have information regarding all of your dryer’s components, belt size included.
Alternatively, if you still have the old belt, you may want to take a closer look at it. It is likely that the belt will have a product number printed somewhere–if it is legible, you may be able to simply look up and purchase a new belt with this method.
You can also have a look at the tables I provide in my Ultimate Dryer Belt Sizing Guide.