If you notice a burning smell in your washing machine, the cause could be any number of things. Regardless, this is one smell you shouldn’t ignore. It’s important to quickly diagnose the problem and find the solution.
The “Burning Belt” Smell
Older, top-loading washing machines use a belt drive to transport energy from the motor to the transmission and pump. The belt can prevent costly repairs to the motor or transmission by slipping, stretching, or breaking if there is a malfunction in the machine. If the belt slips, stretches, or breaks, it can cause friction and a burning smell, most likely a burning “rubber” smell.
The solution is actually quite simple: you need to replace the drive belt on your washing machine. You can call a repairperson or, if your washer is under warranty, the manufacturer. If you or someone you know is handy, you can replace the belt yourself. The belt is located either from the back access panel or from the underside of the washer.
Most new washing machine models are “direct drive.” This means they do not use a belt. The motor is directly connected to the transmission. If you have a direct drive machine and your washer smells like it is burning, read on.
If your washer smells and you have a direct drive machine, it may be the motor, transmission, or both. If these are shot on your washing machine, the result may be an electrical burning smell. Both are necessary to run your washing machine and can be costly to repair. The first thing to do if you notice an “electrical” smell in your washing machine and not a “rubber” burning smell, is to unplug the machine and call the manufacturer or a repairperson.
An electrical burning smell may also be caused by a water leak coming into contact with electrical wiring. Both are major concerns and should be addressed immediately. A water leak can cause structural damage in your home and can short out the electrical wiring in your washer and cause additional damage to the machine.
Another more likely cause of a burning smell in your washer is overloading. Adding too many clothes to your washing machine can stress the motor or transmission, causing them to overheat or malfunction and emit a burning smell. For top load washers, overloading can cause the agitator to freeze or malfunction, stressing the drive belt and causing friction, which could emit a burning rubber smell.
To prevent overloading, know the size of your washer. They are measured in cubic feet. In addition, know how many towels, pants, shirts, and other items you can safely load. When it doubt, do smaller loads. Not only will this prevent overstressing the machine, it will also ensure clothes are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed.