Can You Fix It?

by Sherrie D. Thornton


Recently had to make a decision whether to buy a new dryer or try to fix the old one. My old dryer was heating fine but a progressive thumping sound was making me worry until finally the dryer began "eating" my clothes.

After inspection I found that the inside drum had fallen off the rollers and was rolling around in an arc versus a circle thereby causing the thumping and also allowing space for clothes to get caught. Dilemma: Try to fix it, call a repairman, or ditch and buy a new one. I called a repair service center to get an estimate and decided that was out of the question--I could almost buy a new one, however, the operator told me it sounded like I could fix it myself with a maintenance repair kit which they sold for $40. She said if I had trouble, I could call and, for a nominal fee, they would talk me through it. What the heck, I gave it a shot.

I received the repair kit about a week later and grabbed my coffee can of tools and headed to the laundry room. It took me about 15 minutes to disassemble the dryer (I had already done this once to see what my problem was) by removing two screws in the lint vent area, lifting the top up and removing the front section, another 30 minutes to clean it out and replace the worn parts (a simple procedure of removing and replacing some rubber wheels, cotter pins, a pulley, and a giant rubber-band thing that snugs around the drum and pulls it around), and another 15 minutes to put it back together again by reversing the steps. I also removed and replaced a cotton band/pad around the inner edge of the drum that insulates the metal part so it is quiet and insulates the metal as it rotates. But would it work?

I plugged it in and pushed the button. That thing was quieter than when I bought it. I couldn't believe it--I fixed it, and a year later it is still melting bathroom rugs with the stealth and efficiency of a new dryer. I've had it for about 13 years--maybe it can now go another 13!

Moral of the story--before you inadvertently ditch an old appliance because it has deteriorated in service, see if you can cost-effectively repair it yourself, thereby saving/deferring expensive purchases and in effect saving the junkyard from more unneeded landfill.

When an appliance is malfunctioning or not working, I always tear it apart to see how it works and if I think it is repairable at a cost below that of replacing it, I fix it; otherwise, I junk it. By doing this, I have saved many appliances (large and small), a few bucks, and had some fun doing it.


I am 37, married, with two children (whom we homeschool: ages 8 and 12) and I also own/operate a home-based resume/secretarial business. I am an avid bargain shopper and would continue to be one even if I were a millionaire--I just love the thrill of the hunt (a trait passed on to me by my mother whose shopping acumen I can only hope to emulate someday). I am still basking in the glow of an unannounced sale I stumbled upon at Goodwill this weekend where I purchased three pairs of name-brand jeans and 10 T-shirts (some Nike and other name brands that are almost like new) at $.09 each. What a rush! Some days are better than others.

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