As I mentioned awhile back, one of the things that changed once we had a kid was the massive amounts of laundry that we now contend with. One of the great mysteries of the world is how such a little guy can produce so many dirty clothes. Bibs, pants, diaper wraps, shirts, sheets, you name it. It builds up into giant piles that must continually be processed in the basement.
All that production came to a halt recently when Pretired Mama trudged upstairs to inform me that her clothes were warm but still wet. I went down to take a look and sure enough it was broken. “Well, the dryer heats up but won’t spin,” I told her. “It’s probably a broken belt.” I jumped on the interwebs to check my diagnosis and sure enough, we had a consensus.
I knew a broken belt on a dryer was usually a pretty easy fix so I was fairly sure I wouldn’t need a repairman to come out. Fortunately I found a very clear video on RepairClinic.com that showed how to repair the drive belt. But just in case anyone ever runs into this, I thought I’d give the quick overview of how to replace the belt.
- First, unplug your dryer. I probably shouldn’t have to say that, but we’re talking about enough power to kill you here, so just unplug it.
- Open the top of your dryer (some models may open differently, but basically you need to access the outside of the drum). Mine opened by using a putty knife in the front by the corners. On mine there were also a couple screws by the lint trap.
- Disconnect the wires that go to the dryer door. This is for the switch that turns off the dryer when you open the door.
- Confirm the belt is indeed broken. You’ll be amazed how flimsy these little belts are.
- Remove the front of the dryer. Mine had just two screws near the top and then it lifts up and out.
- Pull the drum out. It just sits in there loose so it’s quite easy to just pull it out of the way. You’ll be amazed how little there is to a clothes dryer when you see the insides. It’s especially obnoxious when you think about what new ones cost.
- Get your new belt handy. We ordered the Whirlpool 341241 Dryer Drum Belt
on Amazon for $5.70. If you need it sooner, you can probably find it at a local parts outlet, but you’ll end up paying much more. Since we already had our clothes air-drying, we could afford to wait a few days for the part to be mailed to us. In my case, the tension wheel looked different (looked broken) than the diagram so I ordered one as well, just in case, for another $6. In the end, I didn’t really need it, but I used it anyway because I think it was a better design. While you have the drum out of the way, you might want to vacuum up the inside of the dryer.
- Now for the tricky part: put the drum back in place. Hold it there while you slip the belt over the top, making sure it’s not twisted. You’ll need to keep the drum in place while you make the final belt installation. Having someone help you will be a good idea or you can stuff something under the drum so it stays put. The belt goes on top of the tension wheel, and through the wheel assembly before going over the motor. Getting that on correctly was by far the hardest part of the whole project.
- Once the belt is in place, you can remove whatever you had holding the drum in place and try spinning it with your hand to make sure everything works correctly. The belt should be very tight and the motor should turn when you spin the drum.
- That’s it: replace all the pieces you took apart when you started, making sure to remember to reconnect the switch for the dryer door. When it’s all back together, give it a try. Now instead of heating and not spinning, you should be back to a dryer that heats up AND spins!
- Make sure to reconnect the air vent on the back of the dryer and you’re done! While you’re messing with the dryer, it’d be a good time to clean out or replace the vent hose. I once saved around 20 percent on my entire electric bill by switching the plastic collapsible style dryer hose with the smooth metal vent pipe you see here. Highly recommended!
That’s it! Next time you have a dryer that heats up but won’t spin, you’ll know just what to do and can save yourself an expensive repair bill!