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Having Belt Trouble? Here Are the 3 Common Causes and Solutions

A carefully designed industrial belt can run for years when used correctly and maintained in top conditions. Now, put the same belt in a difficult environment or neglect and it will fail in minutes, hours or days.

However, premature failure can be eliminated through regular inspection and troubleshooting. Here are the main causes of belt trouble and the solution to seek.


High ambient temperatures 

This primary cause of hot belts is a hot environment. When the belts overheat, they threaten the entire motion system.


The belts can crack, become brittle, and ultimately fail without a prior warning. The reduced flexibility also lowers the industry drive efficiency. Some of the remedies for hot belt include:

  • Ensure that your facility is properly ventilated to dissipate excess heat
  • Design sheaves with fins to promote airflow when rotating 
  • Consider investing in external air sources such as an air blower 
  • Consider adding more openings in the drive guard to allow the heat to escape 


Threat from contaminants

Belt drive contamination is one of the easy to identify issues. You can simply inspect the belts for debris or oils that push via the back section of the belt.


Greases on the belt induce V-belt slipping resulting to shiny/ glazed belt sidewalls. Another indication of oil contamination in your belt is falling apart in layers. When oil comes into contact with a material, it weakens the bonds resulting in a spongy-soft appearance that weakens the belt. What are the remedies?

  • Make sure to clean the pulleys when contamination is noted
  • Maintain a clean environment to prevent the entry of foreign particles
  • Anticipate the problem of contamination and craft a more user-friendly equipment


Incorrect drive design

The design of your industry drive should be carefully engineered to reach targeted service life. An engineer must be able to determine the right size and belt numbers that should be used in your machine. But this is not all.


The engineer has to include other drive factors. One example is that the pulleys should be designed in line with industry recommended tolerances. The engineer should provide the recommended industrial pulley diameters. Check the examples below:

  • If you have a 3V section V-belt, using a pulley of less than 2.65 inches will result in trouble. 
  • If a V-belt shows some deep cracks at irregular intervals, the pulley is likely to be small.

If the drive is unusually loud, the problem might be improper belt cross-section. Note that since belts do not run well in pulleys with wrong angles, it is advisable to size them correctly for examination before installation.

Engineers recommend that the sprockets should also be examined to ensure they have the right tooth profile in systems that use synchronous drive systems.

Your system’s belt guard should also be engineered for optimal operational safety while still offering ventilation. The structural members including motor mounts, framework, and machine pads should be rigid enough but not deflect under load. The drives should be created for minimum vibration, ease of inspection, and maintenance.

NOTE: Drive components are rarely the cause of drive issues. Therefore, if other possible causes are eliminated, the pulley supplier or belt should help detect and correct the issue.