Heat, air flow, and drum rotation. Those are the three necessary factors for a gas or electric dryer to successfully dry your clothes and linens. Remove any one of these factors and you’re left with a damp pile of fabric.
What’s so important about drum rotation?
What causes the dryer drum to rotate and why is it so important? The drum is rotated by a belt that goes around the outside of the drum. The belt is looped onto the motor’s drive pulley which drives the belt as well as an idler pulley that applies tension in order for the belt to grip the drum. The drum is supported by glides or rollers in the front and, depending on the model, rollers or a bearing in the rear. The drum has baffles on the inside so, as the drum spins, the clothes and linens are tumbled back-and-forth, allowing the heated air to dry the laundry load evenly.
Certainly, properly working heating components (including a burner assembly in gas dryer models and a heating element in electric models) are crucial for a successfully operating dryer, as is the necessary air flow to draw the heat through the drum. But the heat and air flow will simply not be able to do a sufficient job of drying the clothes or linens if the load is not being tumbled by a rotating drum.
Why won’t my dryer drum rotate?
The reasons for why a dryer drum won’t spin are largely the same whether you own a gas or an electric dryer. Here are the top five you should be aware of:
- Broken Drive Belt – Through use over time, the drive belt can wear out and lose its ability to rotate the drum. The belt may slip, begin to fray, or break altogether. If the belt breaks, you may still hear the motor running, but the drum will not spin. On some models, a broken belt will activate a switch that prevents the motor from running. As with most dryer repairs, you will need to disassemble the appliance to replace the belt, which often involves removing the top panel, front panel, and, on many models, a front bulkhead.
- Worn Drum Roller or Axle – Most dryers will have two or more rollers supporting the rear of the drum, and some models will have another two rollers supporting the front of the drum. If the rollers, or the axles the rollers are mounted on, are worn out, the drum will have trouble spinning. You can often tell that a roller has worn out because the dryer will make a squeaking sound during operation. It is a good idea to replace all the rollers and axles at the same time so they will wear evenly.
- Damaged Drum Glide – Some dryer models will use plastic glides to support the front of the drum instead of rollers. Long glides may be installed on the drum rim itself or smaller glides may be mounted on the drum support located on the rear of the front panel or bulkhead. A worn or damaged glide may cause the drum to bind and put a strain on the drive motor. Again, it is a good idea to replace all of the glides at the same time.
- Worn Drum Bearing – For some dryers, the rear of the drum will be supported by a bearing which rests in a retainer. If the dryer is making a squeaking sound when running, you can try applying additional grease to the bearing so it will rotate smoothly in the retainer. However, if the bearing or retainer is significantly worn, the components will need to be replaced.
- Malfunctioning Drive Motor – In addition to driving the belt, the drive motor also runs the blower wheel to circulate air through the drum. If both the drum and blower wheel are not turning during operation, and the motor is making a humming sound, it’s likely the motor has failed.
Bonus troubleshooting tips
The belt, rollers, glides, bearing, and drive motor are not the only parts you should evaluate. A defective drive pulley or idler pulley could be the culprit as well. If either of these pulleys jam or become dislodged, the belt can slip and be unable to rotate the drum.
Belt switches, which are designed to shut off the motor if the belt breaks, could malfunction as well. A faulty belt switch may prevent the motor from running even when the belt is fully intact.
Find the right dryer parts with Repair Clinic
Repair Clinic stocks all the replacement appliance parts you need to keep your dryer drum spinning: drum belts, belt switches, drum rollers, roller axles, glides, bearings, drive motors, idler pulleys, and drive pulleys. To find the right part for your dryer, enter the full model number of the appliance in the Repair Clinic website search bar to see a complete list of compatible parts. You can then use the part category and part title filters to narrow that list down to the specific part you need. While Repair Clinic carries dryer parts for all the top brands including Kenmore, GE, Whirlpool, Maytag, Electrolux, LG, and Samsung, you’ll want to make sure you’re selecting a part that is directly associated with your dryer model.