Changing a washing machine belt

I spent a fair amount of time during the teaching of my How to Turn Your Blog into a Business course last week emphasizing how IMPORTANT good photos are on your blog.  It’s a visual medium, like television so there has to be something to look at.  Even newspapers which you think of as being something you read as opposed to see or watch, have good photos to enhance the story.

So it is with great pride that I show you what may be the grossest photos on the Internet at this moment.  They are wonky, unprofessional and completely unattractive in every way.

I tried.  I really, really tried to get some half decent looking photos of me changing out the belt on my front load washing machine when it broke down but … it just wasn’t possible.  For me.  For someone else with more talent I’m sure it would have not only been possible but probably would have resulted in some sort of award with cash prize.

My washing machine/dryer combo has broken down a total of about 10 times in the past 15 years.  I just keep fixing it.  Part of the reason is I can’t be bothered to call someone, wait around for them to show up, only to tell me that jeez … they don’t have the part, and they’ll be back next week.  And I don’t know what it is about appliance repair people, but much like many mechanics I automatically assume they’re out to get me.

Appliance repairmen.  The boogiemen of the adult world.

So, that’s why I fix things myself.  Usually a half an hour or so spent on Google will tell you what’s wrong with whatever it is you’re trying to fix.  In my case it was a very old Bosch washing machine that wouldn’t spin.

The problem apparently could have been a loose or broken belt (the belt that goes around the drum to make it spin), a problem with the door, or it could be worn brushes in the motor.  Had no idea where or what they are so I Googled again.

Armed with 3 possibilities, I went about trying to diagnose and possibly fix my machine before I ran out of underwear.  I was already into my “theme” underwear. You know the stuff with Santa Claus or red and white lace stuff it almost kills you to wear even on Valentine’s Day.  So clearly this was a problem that needed to be fixed stat.

As it turns out I discovered my belt was fine, the door was O.K., but when I jiggled the brush that goes into the motor (you don’t need to know or care about that) the machine started working.  Then it would stop a day or so later.  This led me to believe the problem with my machine is a worn brush in the motor.  A quick trip to the parts store and my washing machine will be fixed.  For now it works on and off.

But while I was taking my machine apart, I thought I’d show you a little trick that will work with just about any belt on any machinery.  If you’ve ever tried to get a belt on something that was really tight you know it’s almost impossible to stretch it into place.

That’s because it isn’t meant to be forced into place it’s meant to be guided by the track that it’s actually on.

Confused?  Don’t worry.  The really bad photos will take care of that.

First things first … ALWAYS unplug what you’re working on.

 

washing-machine-plug

 

With the back of my washing machine off I could get a look at the guts.  This is the belt that turns the drum.  There would be a similar belt on a dryer and a bunch of other doo daddy machinery  in the world.

 

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You can see the belt goes around the metal wheel.

 

 

changing-washer-belt-2

 

And then down to the pin, that’s attached to the motor.  It’s not called a pin, I have no idea what it’s actually called but it’s the thing that the machine actually spins, which in turn turns the belt, which in turn spins the wheel, which in turn spins the drum.

 

changing-washer-belt-3

 

Removing the belt is easy.  Just grab a bit of it (making sure to not squish your fingers in anything) …

 

changing-washer-belt-4

 

… and ease it off of the wheel.  You can turn the wheel  a bit if you have to, to help it along.

 

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Done!  That was simple. You feel great about yourself, your accomplishment and your dirty fingers.  Now what?

 

 

changing-washer-belt-6

 

The truth is, newer belts really don’t break down or stretch out very often, but this is the procedure you would use to take a belt off then put a new one on.  There are other times (although I’m not sure when exactly) that you would need to remove and then replace a belt.  Oftentimes after overindulging in Chinese food.

 

To put the belt back on slip the belt around the pin.

changing-washer-belt-7

 

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Then fit the belt onto the wheel as much as it will go without forcing it.

 

 

 

changing-washer-belt-8

 

Now, with your free hand, just spin the wheel slowly.  The wheel will pick up the belt all on its own and you won’t have to force it at all.

 

changing-washer-belt-9

Yeah, I know you’re still confused. I figured that was going to happen so while I was busy taking bad photos, I was also shooting a bad video.

I’m nothing if not consistently and reliably bad.

Any more photos or videos like this and people will be offering me cash prizes to stop making them.

And there you have it. I’m sure you have no idea how you managed to get along in life without knowing how to properly change a belt on various pieces of machinery. I for one wonder how you’ve done it. But now you are blessed with the information which should make you feel secure. You know that when a belt breaks or comes loose and others are in a state of panic, calling 911, screaming, crying and trying to overthrow the government, YOU will be able to step up and fix it.

YOU are AWESOME.




58 Comments

  1. Donie says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself! I think the pics and video are very good! Now I want to remove the belt on my machines just to be one of the cool kids!! I always love your posts… they are a bright spot on my day! Keep up the awesomeness!!

  2. sandra says:

    While I am highly impressed over the whole belt- changing sitution, I am actually more in awe of how clean and lint free your washer is. Fess up. Did you do a thorough scrubbing before snapping those photos?

  3. Can you show us how you fixed your washing machine motor brushy things when you finally get sick of having it only running well every day or two? I’m sure my machine is on borrowed time, and I’m swotting up before it clunks out on me.

    • Karen says:

      Sure. I hadn’t planned on it, but I can. I had to order my parts from the Internet because no supplier around here had them. They should be here in a few days. – K!

    • theresa says:

      I second that…our front loader is only 4 yrs old but husband has had to repair/chase leaks twice already so I think he might like both this post and one on the motor brushes (which we both know about but have never actually thought we could FIX ourselves)

  4. Terri says:

    Genius, truly genius!!! I never thought to do the pin first. This will work for so many belts. Thank you. I actually learned something today. 🙂

  5. Kathy Hartzell says:

    You never fail to make my day.

    I am a California girl…..well more of a hardware girl, but in the PDT zone…do I get to read your blog before crashing…and you make me really happy. Just thought you’d like to know.

    I have never done more than dismantle the machine to find the dang sock that gummed up the works….but the Sears guy actually realized I understood what he was doing when I freaked at the thought of laundromats and called for service and showed me tricks of his trade….so yes, I am poised to fix the washer should I be called to action.

    Kathy H

  6. TucsonPatty says:

    I’ve done the dryer but not the washer – now I know how. Thanks! I loved the video and I didn’t realize that was such a great trick! Double, no, triple, thanks!

  7. You know, I was more impressed with the pictures! I mean really, how much better can a photo be of metal parts that turn a wheel…I think you pretty well nailed the glamour as best you could of the back of a washer! Especially a used one. Taking a picture with your big toe while having your hands doing a project is no easy feat…feet…whichever!

  8. Maura says:

    Looks great to me! Thank you this was very useful.

  9. Jody says:

    You’re right–Who knew. Great tidbit of information. Thanks,

  10. Tigersmom says:

    And here I thought brute force was the answer to all things mechanical. I’m notorious for over tightening screws and bolts, too.

  11. Kim C. says:

    I really needed this a month ago! It’s one thing to troubleshoot with Google but you take it to a whole other level and I admire you for that.:-) Now that I’ve watched you fix this I’m more confident that I’ll be able to replace the belt on my new dryer in about 10 years. That seems to be today’s appliances life span! Oh, and I think your photos are jusr fab.:-)

  12. Kim C. says:

    P.S. ”theme” underwear…LOL, so true! You cracked me up with that one. 🙂

  13. Su says:

    gonna file this in the ‘someday need to know how’ file….. GREAT pictures…. 🙂

  14. Beckie says:

    I am going to try that trick next time I need to change the belt on my 44 year-old sewing machine.

    I’ve owned the machine for about 20 years and changed the (original) belt once. Hope I remember this in 18 years!

  15. jainegayer says:

    I can’t wait til the belt blows so I can put on a new one. That was impressive!!

  16. Mary Werner says:

    And I waited days for the repairman and paid plenty ($50 service call for just showing up) when it was this easy to change the belt? Oh, Karen thank you!!!!!!! I could see everything just fine int he still shots but the video was wonderful.

    Can I request – how to clean my shower drain? It needs a “snake” or something to go deeper than a screwdriver or old fork. At least I think so but don’t want to buy that nasty long thing nor pay someone to come and do a trivial task.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary! I’m afraid you’re going to have to buy the nasty long thing, lol. And keep in mind snakes for shower drains and snakes for toilets are different so make sure you get the right one. ~ karen!

      • Mary Werner says:

        Thanks Karen – I know that I would have bought the wrong one since I didn’t know they made different sizes. (I won’t comment further about what is going on in my head.)

    • Cred says:

      Mary- you can rent a snake if you don’t want to purchase one.

      • Mary Werner says:

        Thanks Cred but I’m quest enough from the thought of that thing used “monthly” that gets washed and then reused! Renting a snake would be, for me, like borrowing someone’s tongue scraper. I just want my own gunk to deal with! Since the problem seems constant, probably would be good idea just to break down, buy one, and deal with it more often. I just hope I can do that before “growing things” start poking out of the drain.

    • Adrienne in Atlanta says:

      Also, after you get it cleaned out, you can keep it gunk free (though maybe not totally hair free – I use a wire hanger for that when necessary) by sprinkling a good amount of baking soda over the drain area, then pouring vinegar over that. It’s the classic kids science project eruption, and it dissolves a lot of soap scum and general nastiness. I do it a few times a year. Wait 5 minutes after the magic happens, and then run super hot water for a minute or so. Works like a charm.

      • Mary Werner says:

        Thanks – I do this monthly but the drain is still SLOW. I think our plumber was not the best since it has been that way since we built it 8 years ago. I now stand in 5 inches of water after my fairly fast shower! Time to get serious about this or maybe I’ll just wait till next week.

    • Bobbi says:

      It is possible that you don’t need a true snake. I bought a Zip-It Drain cleaning tool at Lowe’s or Home Depot for 3 or 4 dollars. It is a long, plastic strip with lots of teeth on either side. Cleaned all my sink drains and shower drain. I could not believe all the hair that came out of my drains. Gross !! It is a cheap and easy thing to try before investing in a snake. They are also on Amazon. Good luck.

      • Mary Werner says:

        Thanks Bobbi – Sounds exactly like what I need. It always drains slower when visiting relatives come and use my shower – they have very long hair! I appreciate all the help given here but think this idea may be the one for me to try first.

  17. Lynne says:

    Been there, done that, and thankfully don’t have the video. My one piece of advice? Follow the instructions.

    My ex and I did this many long years ago – and the two of us being so smart thought we saw a short cut and could avoid taking apart something and do the job faster. An hour later we went back to square one, followed the instructions provided by our friendly local appliance dealer (where we bought the belt) and were done in half an hour.

  18. Rondina says:

    Not gross; very instructive, but would have been better with a pink tool belt hung over the corner of the machine for that “pop” of color. : )

  19. Anita says:

    Oh yes please, show us how you change out the brush thingeys too. My washer has been acting up and I’m afraid I’m gonna have to tear it apart. Your perfectly wonderful photos give me hope that I can do it. I don’t know why you think your pics are bad. They are clear, detailed, in focus and informative. What more could you want? Ok, yes, a shirtless Idris Elba changing the belt for you would have certainly improved the pictures.

  20. Lynn (really spelled w/ an "e", but somebody else already has that spelling on here) says:

    Somewhat related question: my dryer seems to be bound up – it sounds like it’s humming, but under duress! Do you think that might be the belt? It’s an older gas dryer, but I would love to troubleshoot and fix it myself. Wanted your thoughts before I pulled it away from the wall and tried to take the back off.

  21. Ruth says:

    I have had a top-loading washer for about 13 years, and it is for this very reason that I will get a front-loading one the minute it croaks for good. It’s a pain in the butt to replace the belt because we have to manoeuvre the silly thing on to it’s side – in a very small space, might I add – in order to get to the equally silly belt , which is all the way underneath. Grrr….

    Thankfully, we have only had to do it twice so far (I am convinced that some mysterious creature nipped it just to torture me).

  22. Cred says:

    Well, mower deck belts on ridîng lawn mowers definitely stretch so this instruction can be useful for that, too. Years ago, until I found the right belt (much harder in the early days of the Internet), my mower deck belt would pop of no less than 10 times in a mowing session. Aargh! I got pretty adept putting it back on- it was unbelievably tight considering it popped off so readily.
    It was a little trickier to turn it onto the pulley because it also had an idler pulley, you had to wind it around and through four pulleys. (Just to sound impressive for the boys, you can refer to the pin as the drive pulley- attaches to the drive shaft of the motor. It’s small on the washer but other equipment it is often looks more like a pulley)
    My hubby is an electro-mechanical technician so I rarely have to get my hands dirty, unless I’m in the garden. I’ve done shocks, brake pads and shoes and I always used to do my oil but been there done that. Sometimes I miss the self sufficiency but he much more proficient so I’m prepared to rest on my laurels.

  23. Lisa says:

    My dear dad was an appliance repairman. When I was 16 or so, I overstuffed the dryer and broke the belt.

    He made me fix it.

    Now I can fix a bunch of things, but it’s almost never just the belt!

  24. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    And Karen, YOU are AWESOME.

  25. kate-v says:

    A good skill to have!

  26. Ev Wilcox says:

    Thanks Karen, good to know! And stop dissing stuff you do. The photos are fine, the vid is fine. So stop it! And I did learn to turn the wheel and walk the belt on–perfectly simple, but don’t know if I would have thought of it! So there! You do what you do well!

  27. Kate says:

    Big fun! I’d like to try this with my washer’s belt—just to see if I can—only my machine is shoved into a closet and takes a couple of guys plus me to wrestle it out of there and then winkle it down the narrow hall to the back room where it can finally be worked on. Whew. Tired already.

    But I have a different problem. My dryer won’t heat up any more. And I don’t want to call my appliance guy. I know, now I have to resort to Google.

  28. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I don’t have any “theme” underwear..I feel underprivileged..what will I do if my washer breaks down??..Going panty-less at my age is probably illegal..Have you ever figured up how much you saved in a year doing your own repairs and such??

  29. Karol says:

    The closest thing I had to “themed” underwear (thank God I don’t need them anymore) was my “period underwear”.

  30. Air Max 90 says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a
    famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  31. Cyn says:

    My washing machine and dryer are stacked…in a corner… in the bathroom and I’m 64…Now what do I do?

  32. Barbie says:

    That’s adorable Karen. LOLOL

  33. Laura Bee says:

    Ooh – good to know. Our “new” washer is a front-loader.
    Sorry, the next week’s worth of comments will all somehow be connected to our new house.
    At least a week lol.

  34. Shauna says:

    This is actually very handy and useful information. I took the belt off of my drill press and then cussed at it the whole time I was trying to get it back on. If I had this information back then, I imagine it would have worked beautifully and with far less bad words.

  35. Elen Grey says:

    I think the quality of your pics was influenced by the subject matter. 😀

    The video was quick & dirty. I wish more videos were like that. Again. 😀

  36. LazySusan says:

    If I remember correctly, and it’s been a few years, this is the same method we used when putting a bicycle chain back on that had come off. It would never have occurred to me to use that method for some other machine belt, so thank you so much for this. I just hope I can remember it, for when the time comes!

  37. Stephbo says:

    This method totally makes sense. I don’t know why it never occurred to me. Our washer has a broken belt right now, but frankly I’m using it as an excuse to get a whole new washer. I’m sick of that old piece of crap.

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  39. Debbie says:

    It always amazes me how much repair people charge for their services especially when what they do is as simple as what you have taught us all today. We need for information like this. Please keep up the good work.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Debbie! I’ve found the hardest part is usually the elimination of possible causes. Well that and knowing the exact right swear words to use when you drop tools and such. ~ karen!

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