Monday, August 20, 2007

Adventures in Appliance Repair

So, yesterday afternoon the belt broke on my clothes dryer and that totally ruined my day. I kept telling myself, "get a grip, Ruthie and look at the big picture, all's you have is a broken belt that can be fixed in a basement that's dry, while other people have just watched their house (and all appliances) wash away in a flood."

Yes, sometimes I have trouble keeping things in perspective. This dryer has served us well for over 25 years with no problems, and I think that's pretty good. The next question was: "can I fix this myself?"

I went to the bookshelf to retrieve my trusty Reader's Digest "Fix It Yourself Manual." Yeah, I think I can do this....based on these two pages of pictures and instructional text. First, unplug the dryer. It's really pretty easy to get everything taken apart. But oh geez, what's all this stuff?? The entire bottom of the dryer was covered with a solid 1/2 inch of dryer lint and pet hair....and this is a gas dryer. Holy S*#%! It's a miracle there hasn't been a fire in this dryer (I was also thankful that an appliance repair technician didn't see this embarassing mess)

Note to self: remember to take that bottom panel off and vacuum at least every 6 months.

Fortunately when I called the repair store this morning they had the belt in stock, so we stopped after work and the Spousal Unit shelled out his $19.99 (plus tax) for my new part.

After supper, it was time to tackle getting the belt on and putting everything back together.

Here's the "bolt tightening grimace."

Hello Daisy, do you think you'd like to help with this project?

And now the hardest part--attaching the belt to the motor and idler pulley. This was the part that required "magic" words especially once my glasses started steaming up. First I tried it the hard way and then logic kicked in and all the pieces clicked right into place.

The final test--plug it in and turn it on. Hooray! It's fixed! Now I'm back in the laundry business. I would be interested to know how much money was saved by doing this repair myself. Has anyone had an appliance repair done lately and would you mind sharing how much it cost you?

Things went relatively well and I had everything back together in less than an hour. Only one small cut on my finger and a minimal amount of swearing. I'm fortunate to have inherited the "handy gene" from my parents.

How about you? Do you want to share a story about something you've fixed or assembled and are proud to say that you "did it all by yourself?"


mon@rch said...

isn't that why we hire people? Ugg, I got a headache just looking at your photos! LOL! High five for you in fixing this thing! BRAVO

RuthieJ said...

Yeah, but Tom, I'm really cheap! :-D

Jayne said...

HOLY COW Ruthie, I'm impressed!! Those "magic words" must have donet the trick...lololol. I'd never begin to attempt repair on a major appliance. Heck, we were stoked that we figured out how to change out the bulb in the pool light on our own. Baaahahahaha.

Jennifer said...

I'm so proud of you. But here's the thing: the heat shield fell off my car yesterday. My friend said - oh that's easy, you could do that yourself. My first response when finding it on the road below my car was, "I wonder if Darryl still has that 2001 Mazda on the lot?" hahahah!

Anna said...

You are an appliance repair goddess!! My favorite part of this blog is the picture of Daisy watching you. Did you notice that her tail is just a blur? She obviously thought that fixing the dryer was an adventure!

Ruth said...

I am not handy but am stubborn enough to take hours to figure out how to fix something. But I am learning that time is money and it is better for me to pay someone who can do things quickly. Good for you! I am impressed with handy women who are not apologetic about their abilities. I had better take a look at the back of my gas dryer!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
Good first step for you, changing the pool light. I bet there are plenty of people who wouldn't attempt to do that and just call their pool place to repair it. The dryer was OK, but I'd never try anything on the washer--too hard to get at.

Hi Jennifer,
Did the heat shield actually fall out on the road while you were driving? Yikes! I've not done much auto repair--too hard to clean all that grease off your hands! The Spousal Unit and I replaced a water pump once on a really old (before computers) Buick and I could change a tire if I really had to.

Hi Sissy,
Daisy was down there the entire time and I did notice that blurry tail. Sophie was hiding upstairs because she can't be in the same room where a camera AND a flashlight are being used!

Hi Ruth,
Sometimes when I do have to call for repairs I will get a technician who doesn't mind answering questions. Half the battle is getting inside the appliance and I've been lucky that people are willing to explain and show me what to do.
Since the spousal unit and I carpool and are both at work at the same time, it can get difficult to try and schedule a repair--especially since some companies say they'll be there between 8 and noon or 1 and 5, and you have to end up taking a half-day of vacation, for what ends up being a 20-minute repair job.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Ruthie, you are just too cool. I totally love the can-do attitude!

(Been on business travel and vacation and glad to be back!)

Robin (Bumblebee)

Cathy said...

Holy Kamoly!!! Now I'm impressed! Have I ever repaired anything? Oh sure! I just put masking tape on a cabinet door that came off in my hands. Now THAT is as close as I get to being handy :0D

RuthieJ said...

Hi Robin,
Welcome back...I've been checking your blog daily and look forward to more stories and pictures of your travels!

Hi Cathy,
Maybe you didn't get the "handy gene", but you take beautiful pictures and you're a poet too! Thankfully we're all good at different things or this world would be a pretty boring place.

Mary said...

I might have fixed some things myself but I don't remember. For sure, I never fixed a DRYER! I'm so IMPRESSED with your skills, Ruth.

About 6 years ago in MD, our Maytag dryer stopped running. A service call - $80 plus parts and labor. Ain't cheep. Feel better?

While living in DE, we had very, very, very bad water so I used extra soap in the washing machine and fabric softener. After about 2 years, the dryer stopped drying. Service call: $50. Diagnosis: I was using too much stuff in the wash that turns to wax on your dryer vents and parts. I started using 1/8 detergent and NO SOFTENER and the dryer started drying again.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
I feel much better now....I think the Spousal Unit owes me a trip to Red Lobster because I saved him so much money! ;-)

Good to know about the water....We have well water and a water softener, but I think I still use more detergent than I should. I got some "dryer balls" a couple weeks ago and have started using them instead of dryer sheets (when it's too rainy to hang stuff outside).

Trixie said...

Good heavens, Ruthie, you are so handy. I might have gotten it taken apart, but not together. I am just glad you didn't have to repack any bearings. Whew....

RuthieJ said...

Hi Trixie,
You're right--getting it apart was much easier than putting everything back in place! I'm glad they had the belt in stock too because if they'd had to order it, I probably would have a hard time remembering what went where after a few days.

nina said...

Trixie mentioned my fear--the REassembly part.
Fortunately, I married a very handy man--and I did it all by myself! :-)

RuthieJ said...

Lucky for you Nina. I always say "my next husband" will be a handy guy (or at least one who will say, "let me call a repairman for you right now...I don't care that it's the weekend")

Larry said...

I'm not exactly a repair guy, but it feels good to fix something yourself-
I used to do a lot of my work on my old cars.-The old 70's american vehicles were easy to work on.-Since car engines have modernized, I haven't bothered.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
It's nice to be able to do even the simpler things (change a light switch or put in a new faucet) because the repair guys charge so much now.

Did you have the muscle cars? Dodge, Chevy or Ford? I think an auto reminiscence post is needed...