I never put much thought into dryer belts until mine broke one day, leaving me to hang up the pile of wet clothing I’d just washed when I really just needed to tumble dry it to save time. Belts rarely need to be replaced, and it’s so easy to forget about a little strip of rubber that’s always out of sight. Yet, as it turns out, that little rubber belt runs the show.
Thankfully, a broken dryer belt isn’t the end of the world – or your dryer. If your dryer isn’t running, a broken belt is a likely culprit, and it’s a cheap and easy fix.
When a dryer belt breaks, the drum won’t turn, and clothes won’t dry properly. Sometimes, the dryer won’t work at all (in-built safety mechanism). Dryer belts are easily replaced. Normal wear causes belts to break, but it’s best to check the whole pulley system to ensure there’s no other cause for the break.
Signs of a Broken Dryer Belt
If you are having problems with your dryer, there are a few scenarios that could indicate that the issue lies with your dryer belt.
The biggest clue that your belt is broken is that your dryer’s drum isn’t rotating. The entire purpose of the belt is to help rotate the drum, so this is the clearest indicator that your belt has broken or become displaced.
If your dryer is making strange thumping noises while running, this is another potential indicator of a displaced, loose, or broken belt.
Another sign that the belt is broken is that your dryer will not run as some machines simply will not do so without a functional belt. However, you should be careful not to immediately pin this issue to a broken belt.
While a machine that will not start could indicate a problem with the belt, there are a number of other issues that could also contribute to your machine’s failure to start, like an electrical issue or a problem with the door sensor.
How Is the Dryer Affected?
If it turns out that your dryer belt is broken, this is a pretty big problem. While you won’t need to replace the entire dryer, your dryer isn’t going to be able to function properly until you get a new belt!
Dryers use rotation to toss clothing around, evenly heating every part of your clothing to ensure that it’s properly dried. This rotation is created by using a pulley system, in which the dryer belt is a critical piece.
Let’s take a look at how a dryer pulley system works. First, the dryer belt is connected to three other important parts – the drum, the idler pulley, and a drive pulley that is attached to a motor.
Because the drum must be rotated, it is connected to the drive pulley on the motor by the dryer belt.
The belt is also connected to the idler pulley, which picks up any slack. This creates tension that allows the belt to “grip” onto the drum and pull it over its rollers (which should also freely rotate) with the force created by the motor.
Most dryers will not even start without a belt, and those that do will still be useless, as the drum will not be able to turn.
Needless to say, the dryer belt is essential.
What to Do if a Dryer Belt Breaks
Unfortunately, you will not be able to repair your dryer belt if it breaks. Dryer belts are made of rubber, and once they snap they cannot be put back together.
The good news is that dryer belts are a relatively cheap piece of equipment to replace. They are pretty easy to install, as well.
Many dryer models are made with a unique type of belt. If you use the wrong belt, it is likely to break very quickly, if you are able to use it at all. If you are purchasing a replacement, make sure you purchase the right belt for your machine.
If you are planning to replace the belt yourself rather than have a professional do it, you should also read up on and check for other potential causes of belt breakage, so you can assess your machine.
By doing this you will be able to find out if your belt failed due to another faulty part, instead of normal causes. You will then be able to address that issue as well, to prevent repeated breakages.
Why Do Dryer Belts Break?
There are several reasons a dryer belt might snap. The first potential cause is simply normal wear and tear. This “natural” breakage primarily occurs because friction wears down the belt over time.
While tension and friction are required for the dryer belt to grip onto and rotate the drum, these forces also slowly cause damage to the belt.
If the belt that was previously installed was damaged or of low quality, it is likely to have worn down and snapped faster than a belt of better quality.
Breakage of dryer belts can also occur when your dryer is put under more stress than it was made to bear. This happens when the drum is overloaded from large laundry loads or loads that are too wet.
When the drum is overloaded, the parts that run the dryer must work harder in order to operate; this includes the dryer belt, which is put under significantly more stress while trying to rotate the drum.
It is also possible for your dryer belt to break due to another part not functioning correctly. Because every piece works together, a problem with one part can put the others under additional strain as they “pick up the slack.”
Again, it can’t hurt to take a look at all the potential causes of breakage in order to ensure that there is no other underlying problem.