DIY Dryer Repair Part I

LAST WEEK, OUR SIX YEAR OLD CLOTHES DRYER stopped drying. Specifically, it stopped heating. It would run and run on a timed cycle set to “no heat” but it would stop after a few minutes on the automatic cycles.

I like the sunshine-fresh scent of clothesline-dried laundry as much as the next girl, but the whole Amish routine was starting to wear on me. I didn't like the pressure of knowing I HAD to get clothes out onto the line because it was going to be a Perfect Drying Day. I had become a slave to Mother Nature. 

Naturally, I turned to the internet for technical guidance and determined that the issue was probably a broken heating element. With all the other broken things in our lives lately, we were not looking forward to shelling out $200 for a repair service. Several friends on Facebook assured me that it was not a bad DIY repair – I believe someone said, kind of like replacing a light bulb, but with a screwdriver. Appliance repair videos seemed to suggest the same thing, even though repair projects don't usually go as easily as they lead you to believe.

Still, I figured that armed with schematic diagrams and how-to videos, we had nothing to lose for trying. Worst case, we take it apart, get stuck, then call in a repair guy to bail us out. So, I ordered the $80 part, paid extra for priority shipping, then let it sit for a week till we finally found the time and mustered the gumption to tackle this project. Because we? We are not really DIY folks. Just last weekend, it took Curt all afternoon to replace a broken toilet seat because he couldn’t get the plastic nut off of the rusted bolt. And if a project as basic as that can end up taking four hours, imagine how long it would take to disassemble and repair a major household appliance!

Much to Curt’s chagrin, I was undaunted. But, ever the supportive husband, he agreed to try. Here’s the first part of our account:

9:30 a.m. Watched how-to video, under 4 minutes in duration. Filled with confidence; how hard can it be?

9:45 Target run! Because all the Phillips head screwdrivers are missing. (Where do all the screwdrivers go? Are they with the orphan socks?)

10:30 Curt watches how-to video, reluctantly agrees there is a reasonable likelihood that this is, in fact, a DIY appliance repair. Maybe.

Command Central

10:45 Curt looks for putty knife because the video says we need one to pop the lid off.

10:50 Curt finds putty knife.

10:51 Of course, our lid removal doesn’t look like what the video suggested, but we found an alternate way to remove it. Which did not require the putty knife.

Step 1

10:55 Locate wire harnesses. Begin disconnecting them. Realize we will have to disconnect the control panel and all the thousands of wires connecting it to the rest of our fancy dryer. Photograph and catalog each step of the process. Place screws into tiny Ziploc bags with labels.

11:07 – 11:17 Decide we need duct tape to keep the front panel from swinging about. Fail to find duct tape, but locate and use masking and packing tape to secure the control panel off to the side.

11:17 Begin removal of front panel w/door. Video says to just pop it up and out, but once again, our model is assembled differently.

11:27 – Peezer alerts us that Mac the Dog has thrown up on the family room rug. Curt, bless him, cleans it up. Because that’s easier than trying to fix a dryer.

11:35 Curt points out that we have to “squeeze it so it fits through the hole”, then laughs like Beavis.

11:40 Still trying to remove the front panel. Eli reports in again with desperate request: The Wii remotes no longer sync. Even though I synced them this morning.


11:41 Rewatch the video part about “disconnecting the door wire” about five different times, then frame by frame. The guy on the video just popped ‘em off, one-handed, in about 3 seconds.

Youtube video

Meanwhile, we’re 13 minutes into our attempt and they won’t budge. 

Door switch thingy

11:50 Although the spleen appeared to be intact, the surgical team was confused as to how to extricate.

12:08 p.m. “OK wires, it’s just you and me now,” Curt says.

12:24 OH LOOK! FOOTBALL! We queue up the live gamecast on ESPN so we can keep track of Penn State’s home opener.


12:31 Door wire assembly FINALLY disconnected! Now, to remove the front panel…


12:33 Penn State needs to look to throw more intermediate range passes. Oh wait, the dryer…

12:42 lint trap removed.

12:56 – FRONT PANEL IS REMOVED. Unbelievably dirty inside this dryer!

The offending part

1:05 – Union-mandated lunch break. Sandwiches and football.

1:30 – Clock back in.


1:39 – Video instructs us to “Remove mounting screws.” Giggle like a 13 year old boy.

1:44 – The situation further devolves when Curt recalls that last time, he “got that hard one off with a screwdriver.”

1:45 – Leave Curt to fend for himself while I drive the shuttle bus to pick up Seth from friend’s house.

Guard kitten

2:10 – I return to find that Curt has successfully replaced the heating element! Now the reassembly begins. We are quickly losing our zeal but agree to bravely soldier forth.

3:00 – Dryer is partially reassembled, but now we must stop work. It's time to get ready to go to a wedding! We conclude four hours of work with our marriage – and, not for nothing, my manicure – mostly intact.

5:30 – Note with amusement that the place cards at the wedding reception include a clothespin.

Coming tomorrow: Part II!


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