If your washing machine smells like burning rubber, you’re probably wondering what’s causing it and what to do about it.

Please take caution: A burning rubber smell emanating from a washing machine could mean there is a serious and potentially dangerous problem with your machine. It could also be something small and easily repairable. In this article, we’ll teach you some of the most likely reasons why your washer might smell like burning rubber.

Hopefully, the reason your machine smells bad is minor. Either way, this is something you need to investigate and repair as soon as possible.


Why does my washer smell like burning rubber?

The exact reason for your washer smells may depend on the washer model and brand, along with how long you’ve been using it. Here are a few common reasons behind a washer’s rubber burning smell.


Broken or improperly installed drive belts

A washing machine typically has a washer drum that spins with the help of a drive or pump belt. If this rubber belt is improperly installed or is broken due to misuse, it may start rubbing.

This rubbing against itself, or even other components, can cause extreme friction and ultimately a burning smell. More often than not, your washer drum won’t spin at all with a broken pump belt. If it does, it’s highly likely that a part of the pump belt is destroyed, or it is somehow removed from its original position.

To sum it up, if there is something wrong with the belt, your clothes washer might smell. This means you may have to reinstall or replace the belt to ensure the washer drum is spinning properly again.


Worn out pump pulley

Your washer’s pump pulley might be broken or worn out after constant usage. Pulleys can also become degraded and rusted, which may be responsible for unwanted friction and can cause a burning smell. The machine may also suffer from overheating or malfunctioning usually due to jammed or seized up idler pulleys.


Destroyed Drive Motor

The main drive motor is usually the most important part of the machine. If it becomes defective, it can get overheated and cause a burning smell.

A drive motor also breaks down when other components don’t work properly or fail completely. For example, if there is some problem with the pulleys, the drive motor could stop working properly.


Burning Smell Due to Malfunctioning of Appliance Plugs

Sometimes, the washer itself is not the culprit. There might be a problem with the power cable or plug. Unless you have extensive experience, you should not try to repair the cable or plug yourself no matter how badly your washer smells.

Always call in a professional when it comes to electric problems.


Overheating Drain pump

Your washer smelling could also be a problem with the drain pump. The drain pump is the part that removes water from the washing machine through the drainpipe. Usually, the drain pump is installed towards the rear part of the washer, closer to the ground surface.

However, some common yet unnoticed issues might complicate the entire process and can even put unnecessary pressure on the drain pump. For example, the drain pump can get clogged, preventing water from draining from the machine. This might result in your washer smelling.

In addition, a faulty water inlet valve could also be a massive problem because it could force the water to get back into the machine, even if the drain pump is doing its best to push the water outside.

In any of these two scenarios, the drain pump will continuously overwork until it is overheated. And, you may notice an unusual burning smell if that happens.


Tacky Pump Motor Coupling 

Some washing machine brands install a direct motor. The motor coupling is manufactured of a rubber and works like a connecting point between the motor of your washer and the transmission.

The rubber used in the motor coupling absorbs the torque created by the motor, which directly connects to the coupling with the help of the drive forks.

After constant operation for years, the drive motor coupling starts to wear out. And in that case, the rubber portion of the coupling might not be able to hold the drive forks together.

As a result, the drive forks will start slipping down, causing friction throughout the coupling. If not fixed on time, it will lead to a distinctive burning smell.


What to do when your washing machine has a burning rubber smell?

What you can do about your washing machine is smelling like a burning rubber depends on the exact cause. Here are the possible steps you can take in different scenarios to finally get rid of those unpleasant washer smells.


How to fix broken drive belts?

Replacing the drive belt might be the only option for you if it’s confirmed that the rubber belt is broken or work out. You have to ensure you wear all the appropriate safety equipment before attempting to replace the drive belt. And more importantly, you must choose the right belt designed only for your appliance.

Properly replacing the drive belt can prevent a burning smell in the future.


Replacing the Drive Motor Pulley

If you are sure that the drive motor pulley in your washing machine is broken down, degraded, or rusted, you should do a proper inspection of the pulley and motors.

Then, check out any other component that is visibly damaged. If that’s the case, try replacing it but remember to use caution. Don’t forget to recheck the assembly to make sure that the motor is properly pulling the pulley without any resistance.

Hopefully this prevents the washer smells that are plaguing your home.


How to Fix Destroyed Drive Motor?

You only have a small chance to try and fix a destroyed drive motor if it is the cause of your washer smell.

First of all, you have to reduce the loads you usually put into the washer. Always be sure to check the user manual that comes with the appliance to understand the maximum load your machine can bear.

When you are confirmed that you have no other option but to replace the drive motor, you still want to make sure there is no other problem in the machine and all the components are perfectly fine.

Never try to replace the drive motor unless you are 100% sure of your action. If you have even a little bit of doubt, we would suggest you get in touch with a certified service provider who can help you.


How to get rid of burning smells from appliance plug

This is the best possible scenario you can find yourself in if there is a burning smell from your washer. When you are absolutely sure there is nothing wrong with the appliance itself, checking the socket connection, cable and fuse contacts for signs of damage is the next thing you can try.

Once you identify what part of the socket, cable, or plug is damaged, simply replace it. While doing so, don’t forget to recheck that you only use the fuse that is perfectly compatible with your appliance.


How to Control the Drain Pump Overheating?

 The answer to this question depends entirely on the exact cause of the continuous operation of the drain pump, and as a result, the overheating.

You can start the troubleshooting process with the water inlet valve and move ahead to check if there is any possible clog. And, if there is some fault in the drain pump itself, you have no other option but to replace it with a new one.


Dealing with a Tacky Drive Motor Coupling

 If you are absolutely sure that the drive motor coupling is completely worn out, you have no other option but to replace it with a brand-new coupling. And, the process usually demands professional intervention. Hence, it’s not a great idea to try and fix this on your own.


How do I fix a burnt smell in my washing machine?

Finding out the exact operational symptoms of your washer and the possible location from where the burning smell is coming can be a challenge.

In almost all cases of burning smell from the washer, removing the cover is the first and most important step. And notably, you should never try to do this without unplugging the machine. You can easily replace the couplings, belts, and drains if you follow all the steps properly.

However, if there is something wrong with the washer’s motor, or you are unable to find the exact cause of the burning smell, it’s smarter to hire a professional technician.


Can a washing machine catch fire?

It’s not something new to hear the horror stories about electrical appliances including washers catching on fire. Some people can say that this usually happens due to carelessness, but that’s not always the case.

You might even think that washing machines are less dangerous than other electrical appliances when it comes to catching fire. However, they are more hazardous than you might imagine.

According to a study conducted in 2016 by a popular consumer watchdog, Which? 17.8% of home fires were caused by washing machines. That’s more than other appliances.

Most of the modern washing machines look very safe, at least if you go with the forefront of their design. But, it’s better to understand that your washer is always at the risk of catching fire even if you are good at its maintenance.

So, the answer to the question “Can a washing machine catch fire?” is a definite “Yes”. This is why it’s so important to properly maintain your machine and call a professional if your machine starts to smell like burning rubber.

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