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Please help me replace and adjust the belt on my front load washing machine.
May 20, 2008 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Please help me replace and adjust the belt on my front load washing machine.

The machine is maybe 3 years old. It's a Kenmore but I understand it was manufactured by Frigidaire. A few months ago it stopped working, we got a repair guy out here who diagnosed a slipped belt, put it back on, charged us $175 and went away. The whole thing took 15 minutes

A month ago it exhibited the same symptoms. I opened up the back and, indeed, the belt had slipped again. I found it interesting that the spindle on the motor had grooves that matched the belt, but the other part, the wheel that spins the drum, was smooth. A bit of maneuvering and I had the belt back on. Everything seemed OK.

Then it slipped again. I re-seated it again. I repeated this process a few more times until finally, the belt slipped and somehow got caught in the works, melted some of the plastic on the drum housing, and tore. Bummer.

So, bottom line: I have a replacement belt that I am buying tomorrow, but what can I do to help keep it seated? The thing held on for 3+ years - is it just a part that wears out? Also: I'd have thought there would be a way to adjust the tension between the motor and the drum but it doesn't seem like it. The motor is bolted directly to the same plastic drum that the wheel is on, and there just doesn't seem to be any way to adjust it. Any thoughts or advice?
posted by dirtdirt to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
 
Ha! Hahahahaha! I am sitting in my kitchen with the repairman waiting for him to do some work on my stove, and not 60 seconds ago I asked him if there were any known issues with our washer because it has been such an utter piece of crap from day one. It is a Kenmore front loader, manufactured by Frigidaire. When I told him what kind it was he stopped me and said "Say no more!" We have had to replace the computer board, then it started leaking, and now the ball bearings have worn out and it sounds like a plane taking off when it spins. He said the next step will be that it will leak ineradicable grease all over our clothes, and if we don't want that to happen we should just go out and buy a new one. Sorry I can't help with your specific question, but thought you might like to know that this washer is apparently notorious garbage.
posted by HotToddy at 5:21 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Specifically, I said "It's model number 417 . . ." and before I could finish he said, "Say no more! That was manufactured by Frigidaire" etc. So perhaps yours is different. I hope so.
posted by HotToddy at 5:38 PM on May 20, 2008


Belts do wear out. A new belt will likely solve your problems. Three to five years for a belt is about right depending upon use.
posted by caddis at 6:37 PM on May 20, 2008


I found it interesting that the spindle on the motor had grooves that matched the belt, but the other part, the wheel that spins the drum, was smooth

That will be because there's much less contact area between belt and spindle than there is between belt and wheel, so if anything's going to slip, it will be the spindle. And a spinning spindle rubbing on a slipping belt will get hot, and if it's plastic, will wear very fast. You might need a new drive spindle as well as a new belt, especially given that the last one only lasted for months rather than years.
posted by flabdablet at 7:01 PM on May 20, 2008


Actually, I think the last one only lasted three years.
posted by caddis at 11:35 PM on May 20, 2008


Actually, I think the one that lasted three years was the original one. The replacement one lasted from "a few months ago" to "a month ago".
posted by flabdablet at 1:17 AM on May 21, 2008


And I think wrong, because I had wrongly assumed that for $175 you would have got a replacement belt. If all the guy did was reseat the original belt, you've been had. Belts wear and stretch.
posted by flabdablet at 1:18 AM on May 21, 2008


And I've also just realized that when you're talking grooves in the spindle but not in the wheel, you're talking about the design rather than the wear pattern. This is a fairly standard design for a belt drive. It relies on the tension in the belt, which I expect would be a fairly elastic one given the lack of a tensioner, to keep the belt from wandering about on the wheel. An old, slack belt would be much more prone to wandering off. A new one should fix things.

You might even find, if you look really closely, that the driven wheel has an ever so slightly convex cross-section. Because there's rather more than 180° of contact area on that driven wheel, the effect is to make the belt climb toward the centreline as it feeds onto the driven wheel. This is weirdly counter-intuitive, but it really does work.
posted by flabdablet at 3:16 AM on May 21, 2008


The replacement one lasted from "a few months ago" to "a month ago".

Not as dirtdirt has written it. It appears that the original belt was put back on several times until it experienced catastrophic failure. There is no mention of a new belt until after the catastrophic failure. If the repairman who charged $175 put on a new belt and it failed within several months, then I have a different answer, call him back and get him to fix it for free as he obviously didn't do it right the first time.
posted by caddis at 7:55 AM on May 21, 2008


A few things:

So far as I know there was only ever one belt, up until yesterday when I got the new one. The repair guy might have put in a new one, but I sort of doubt it.

The machine itself, before the belt issue, has served us well. Small sample size, sure, but worth noting.

Also, the belt has very very little give. Just barely enough to get it on the wheel. But, the new one is tighter than the old one. It was much harder to get on and sits much more convincingly on the wheel.

If it craps out again I'll update here, but I think it was just a worn-out belt and an unscrupulous repair guy. Thanks!
posted by dirtdirt at 10:40 AM on May 22, 2008


For anyone tuning in late: it happened again, although the belt survived the altercation. Things settled into an uneasy routine where every time I did a load of laundry I would start by climbing behind the machine and tightening the wheel as best as I could. Then, after several months, my brother came to visit, saw what I was doing, laughed at me (good-naturedly) and bought me a $3.00 tube of Loctite. Which took about 10 seconds to apply. That was months and months ago, and it has held fast.

Loctite, and my brother, for the win!
posted by dirtdirt at 1:51 PM on March 23, 2009


I don't understand how loctite fixes a slipping belt. What did you apply the loctite to?
posted by flabdablet at 7:59 AM on April 8, 2009


Aha! I skipped over an important part, assuming that you all could read my mind.

It occurred to me at some point that the wheel probably had a wobble and THAT was what caused the belt to slip. I tightened the heck out of the bolt in the center of the wheel and it worked great for a few loads, but then regained its wobble. This is the party where I said, "Things settled into an uneasy routine where every time I did a load of laundry I would start by climbing behind the machine and tightening the wheel as best as I could."

Since my brother introduced Loctite into the equation the wobble has not wobbled and the belt has not slipped.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2009


To be clearer: Loctite on the bolt that holds the wheel that spins the belt allowed the wheel to stay solid and the belt to stay seated.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:01 AM on April 8, 2009


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