A Dryer Full of Trouble

My dryer has won.  After gradually getting less and less efficient over the last few years, it has stopped drying our clothes.  It has taken me about a week of running the dryer over and over to admit that it isn’t working any more.  It turns, and it buzzes when it is “finished,” but the clothes aren’t getting dry.

Under normal circumstances, I would promptly replace this dryer. We have six people in this house and we do a lot of laundry.  Owning your own washer and dryer is significantly more cost effective than using a laundromat, plus it is more convenient.  However, these aren’t normal circumstances.  We’re moving to Italy in June, and we’ve been told that we’ll live out in town, where the electrical current is different and a US dryer won’t work.  Plus, the military supplies a dryer as part of their household goods package.  What exactly am I going to do without a dryer for 3 1/2 months?

I can only think of three realistic options:  using the laundromat, replacing/repairing our dryer, or line drying everything.  That last one is just not an option.  We are trying to clean out the house and get ready to show it to prospective tenants.  Plus, it it is wet and cold outside, and it doesn’t look like it will be getting warm and sunny anytime soon.  I would spend my whole day doing laundry and draping it around the house.  Let’s look at those first two options again.

I spent all day today at the laundromat, trying to catch up on all the laundry that hasn’t been done in the last week.  Admittedly, we were behind before the dryer stopped drying.  There was a LOT of laundry.  I have a hard time gauging those laundromat machine sizes, but I figure it was somewhere around 15 loads in my home machine.  It took about six hours (though I could have made it faster) and cost somewhere around $80.  That is insane.  Even assuming that was more than two weeks laundry, I can’t imagine spending $30 or so dollars on laundry every week.

This brings us back to the first option:  repairing or replacing the dryer.  Clearly, it wouldn’t make much sense to buy a new dryer.  (Though at $30 a week, for 14 weeks, it isn’t completely insane.)  It seems that the best remaining choices are to fix the dryer, or to buy a used dryer.  I can find a used dryer on Craiglist for between $75 and $150 dollars, and barring any disasters, we should be able to resell it when we go.

The next step is to figure out what is wrong with the dryer, and how much it might cost to fix.  Fortunately, the internet has made it possible for amateurs to diagnose appliance problems.  There are lots of sites that will help you figure out what is wrong; I like PartSelect.com.  Their site helps you figure out the problem and tells you how to test the parts to make sure that is the problem before you order a replacement part.  In our case, all the possible solutions required a multi-meter (a meter that measures various electrical things like resistance and voltage) to test the part.  The multi-meter cost about $25, including batteries, at our local Radio Shack but it seems like something useful to have anyway.  We used the meter to test the parts that might be broken and so far, it looks like things are OK.  Obviously not, because our dryer isn’t working right, but we haven’t figured out the problem yet.

I’m feeling better since I know that we have a plan:  fix it, if the part is inexpensive, or buy another used dryer.  After working out all the logistical and financial sides to the problem, I feel confident that we’ll get this problem resolved efficiently and without breaking our budget.  That’s a good thing, because we’re already making more laundry.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Candy

    What about one of those rental places? I know they can be pricey, but it might be an option. Otherwise, opt for Craigslist.

    And I know AF Crossroads (back when it was Air Force, not Armed Forces) used to have buy/sell listings. I’m not sure if it’s still there but if nothing else, try posting to see if anyone knows where you could pick up a cheap one.

    I can’t imagine going without a dryer, PCS or not! I feel your pain.

  • Oh, I forgot to write about that, Candy. I briefly searched online and discovered that the rental centers don’t like to put their prices online. That makes me nervous. The two places that I did see prices quoted were both for the pair, both the washer and dryer. One was $35 per month, which seemed fairly reasonable, and one was $16.99 per week. That is a lot of money.

    I should probably call an actual rental center before we make a final decision.

  • I know it’s a LONG shot but you should try FreeCycle and beg for one. tell your story and maybe someone will have one taking up space in their garage…Good luck…

  • Julian

    We had the same trouble, it turned out that the vent tube that runs from the dryer hose to the outside of the house was clogged with years of lint. We disconnected the tubing, took it outside then ran Christmas garland tied to a rope back and forth through the tube. Goofy, I know, but it worked like a charm. I was stunned at the amount of lint in the tube, not only was it the source of our dryer trouble but a fire hazard. After we cleaned the tube our dryer worked fine. Good luck.

  • That is important, Julian! I’m glad that you cleaned that out!

    As of yesterday, I think my husband has fixed it. We’re not even sure which action made it work but he certainly cleaned a lot of dust out of the dryer cabinet.

    If this will last until June, I will be so happy.