- check for proper belt tension
- Check for worn pulleys
- Check for pulley alignment
- Listen for noise (a problem indicator)
- Replace all belts at a time
Belts require very little maintenance. However, to prevent unexpected problems, Gates suggests that you: periodically re-tension belts; tighten loose drive components, nuts and bolts, idler arms, motor mounts, drive guards and pulley bolts … check for pulley misalignment, pulley groove wear, bearing misalignment and unusual belt wear … keep drive guards clear for proper ventilation … and clean pulley grooves to remove the buildup of dust, grime, rust or other foreign materials.
Certain environmental factors must be considered when drive-performance does not meet expectations. These include: high or low temperature extremes, dust and grime, chemical vapors and oil. Gates says harsh weather, high humidity and sunlight exposure also can decrease drive performance.
According to Gates, when troubleshooting belt drives, be sure to check for: pulley alignment, correct belt size and cross-section, proper installation tension, and contamination of the belts with oil, grease or belt dressing.
Never force a belt onto the sheave by prying it over the sheave edges. Rather, Gates suggests using the drive center distance adjustment to slip the belt onto the sheaves without prying. If necessary, remove one of the pulleys to install the belt.
Drives must be properly designed and built to last. In addition to determining the best size and number of belts to use, you should consider other drive design factors. For example, pulleys must be manufactured according to industry-accepted tolerances. Belt guards must be designed for adequate drive protection, yet provide ventilation. Structural members of the drive, including framework, motor mounts, machine pads, etc., must be heavy duty components. Gates says drives should be designed for minimal vibration and also for ease of maintenance and inspection.