My clothes dryer recently broke. It’s an electric dryer, not gas-heated. The drum would rotate, the fan would blow, but the heating element never got warm. I figured calling a repairman to come on-site would equal the cost of a new appliance. It’s a shame we make items less expensive to replace than repair. So we end up with larger landfills. Time to learn something new.
I’ve been buying Sears Kenmore appliances. I don’t think they are particularly better than the regular brands. Actually, I believe they are from the regular brands, and just rebranded as Kenmore. But what Sears does really well is their parts management.
First, they keep track of your phone number when you buy an appliance. So if you call them for service or parts, they can look up what you bought previously. They also do this through their website, managemylife.com, which also allows you to keep track of non-Sears appliances.
Second, their online parts store offers exploded diagrams of all their appliances. This is really helpful for (a) figuring out how to disassemble an appliance, and (b) finding the part number for your defective piece, and (c) listing which Sears stores actually have the part in stock so you can drive over and pick it up without paying shipping. Yes, the parts are still really expensive, but you can find them easily.
So back to the clothes dryer. The hardest part was figuring out how to open the darn thing up. The parts diagrams didn’t help a lot, but I was eventually able to locate the panel that popped off (just under the front door), and was able to figure out how to pop it off (via some really difficult latches). Once the panel was open, you’ve got access to pretty much everything.
Make dang sure you unplug the dryer from the wall. You don’t want to meet 220 volts.
I figured the heating element would be the culprit. So off to the Sears store to buy a $60 part. Bring it back home, install it, still doesn’t work. Hmm. Some poking around on the forums and there is mention of the thermal cutoff and thermostat. They are located right next to the heating element, and I can see from the wiring how they are in series with the heating element. So I pull out my multimeter and start testing for continuity. Yup, the heating element looks good, thermostat looks good, ah the thermal cutoff has no continuity. So back to the Sears store to get a new thermal cutoff and thermostat (they come bundled together) for $30. BTW, Sears won’t accept the heating element for return because it is an electrical part that I opened and tried, even if it never got power. Replace the thermal cutoff and thermostat. Since I have a new heating element, might as well put that in too. Aha, it works! Clean the inside of the dryer out since I have it open. I note that the rollers for the drum have lint on them, that is why it was thunking a bit at the beginning of a cycle. Clean lint out of the dryer vent, since that may be what caused the thermal cutoff to trip.
So I’m out $90 and about 3 hours of labor (not counting driving to the store and back). Still a fraction of what it would have cost a repairman to come on-site, and I learned something new.
Now we can work on the backlog of dirty laundry. I don’t know why everyone dislikes putting their wet clothes all over the bonus room and turning on the ceiling fan.