If you’ve heard your dryer making a bunch of thumping and banging noises, you most likely didn’t think it was the belt going bad initially. However, worn out dryer belts are fairly common, especially in older dryers.
Before you go and buy a brand new dryer or dryer belt, you might want to consider if the belt is in fact broken. Surprisingly, it’s not a very difficult task and is worth the few extra minutes even if it does require a replacement in the end.
Dryer belts usually last the dryer’s lifetime. This is typically 8 to 14 years. Frequent use and heavy loads increase the rate of wear, reducing the dryer’s lifespan. Sometimes, belts need replacement even if they aren’t broken and are just loose. Other times, loose belts can be tightened.
Average Lifespan of Dryer Belt
On average, a dryer will last about 8 to 14 years. As with any appliance in your house, the more you use your dryer the quicker it will break down from wear and tear.
The belt is a key component to a properly functioning dryer. The belt wraps around the drum of the dryer and is what spins your load of clothes as they’re drying. Again, more loads of clothes will shorten the lifespan of your belt and dryer.
If your dryer is getting older, it becomes more and more likely that the belt will break. Thumping sounds during operation are a good indication of the belt stretching from tight to loose.
Similarly, a broken belt could also produce thumping noises. However, it may seem as though the rest of your dryer is functioning fine as the dryer boots up normally. You can be sure that the belt is the problem if the drum is not spinning or stops premature to the end of the cycle.
Reasons Why Dryer Belts Break Prematurely
The dryer pulley, also known as the idler pulley, keeps the dryer belt under tension as it rotates the drum. This tension is what allows the system to function properly and can lead to premature breakages of the belt if too tight or too loose.
The dryer belt should be tight but if tugged on should show a little give. Typically, to relieve the belt tension, the idler pulley can be pushed towards the motor in the dryer.
One of the more common reasons a dryer belt wears out prematurely is due to the idler pulley not moving freely. If this is the case, the tension in the belt will be too high causing it to heat up and stretch out.
Dryer belts can also break due to the belt being too loose. If the belt is loose it can slip off of the rotating drum, which will create a thumping noise. A result similar to that of a belt that is too tight will occur with excessive temperatures and stretching that damage the belt.
There are a variety of reasons for the dryer to not function properly in addition to the belt and knowing some of them may help you. Here is a video on troubleshooting:
Not all Belts Break When They Need to Be Replaced
Dryer belts don’t necessarily have to break completely for your dryer to not function properly. Since the belt is looped around the drum as loads of clothes tumble around, it’s natural for it to eventually become stretched out.
As the dryer belt stretches and increases in size, your dryer will begin to make thumping noises. These thumping noises are the dryer belt going from tight to loose. It’s not always possible to tighten the belt, especially if it’s getting too old.
Thumping noises can also be caused by the idler pulley that gives the dryer belt tension in the first place. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to check and locate the problem once the dryer is opened up. If the belt has been stretched out beyond use, you will most likely be able to identify wear and tear on the belt itself.
Although it may not be broken completely, the belt will need to be replaced in these instances. Using a stretched belt will not only create annoying thumping and banging noises but also could further damage other connections within the dryer.
Diagnosing a Loose Belt vs a Broken Belt
A loose belt, depending on the severity, can be fixed relatively easily. If the looseness is due to the tension, then the belt might not have to be replaced. Adjusting the idler pulley by pushing it closer to the motor of the dryer would resolve this issue.
If the belt is loose because it has been stretched, then the belt will have to be replaced. A loose belt due to the belt itself can be identified by the noises your dryer makes during a cycle. Thumping and banging noises will be heard as your clothes tumble and the belt will need to be replaced.
A broken belt will also result in the need for a replacement. However, unlike a loose belt, a broken one will not always make the same loud noises as a loose one.
When you power your dryer on to start a cycle, the drum will not spin at all. You’ll hear only the sound of the motor and know that the belt is broken completely.