Fun · Home Improvement · How To

Fixing My Dryer

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Warning:  All photos in this post were taken with my little cell phone.  There will be blurriness.  And poor lighting. 

But!

There is the replacement of the drive belt in our dryer, so it will all be worth it!  (Well, to me and mine, at least.)

Anyway – this was not really difficult at all.  I did it solo, so you probably can, too.  If you haven’t already.

Shall we?

First off, I spent a couple of days being upset, annoyed, saddened, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the dryer not working.

After I finished all that, I girded my loins, as they used to say somewhere, and got educated.

I read a lot of how-to stuff online, but the BEST thing I found (besides my sister, my personal cheering section), was this youtube video.  I watched it through once and felt confident enough to jump right in.

WARNING:  BEFORE YOU MESS AROUND WITH ANY ELECTRICAL ANYTHING, UNPLUG IT SO YOU DON’T GET ELECTROCUTED!!!

The first thing you need to be able to do is get at the drum, that part that spins your clothes around.  Now, how did I know it was the drive belt (the thing that turns the drum)?  Well, my dryer still had power, it still sounded just about the same as normal, and there was heat.  Process of elimination – the belt had snapped.  Sometimes you can hear the pop when the belt snaps, but I hadn’t heard it.

Anyway, to get to the drum, you’ve got to remove a few things.  (And keep in mind, not all dryers are built the same, so yours might be a different operation.)

First – remove the lint screen.

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The opening for mine is on the top of the dryer, back right. 

Next, see the two screws at the front of the opening?

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You need to unscrew them.  They help hold the dryer lid in place.  Mine required a phillips head screwdriver.  I don’t know what size – I just found one that fit nicely.

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Save the screws in a cup or something AWAY from where you’re working.  Remember the scene in A Christmas Story?  When Ralphie is helping his father change a tire?  And he’s holding the hubcap with the tire bolts (whatever you call them) in it and his father accidentally hits the hubcap and the bolts go flying into the snow and Ralphie says F…..udge?  You don’t want to go through that.  So put the screws in a cup far from your own elbows.

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(I put mine in the lid of a can after I took the above picture.  And I put the lid on a chair out of elbow-reach.)

Next, there are little plastic fittings that hold the front of the dryer lid in place.  All you need to do is slide a screwdriver under the lip of the lid near the plastic things and lever the lid up.  Very easy.  Don’t worry, you won’t break anything.  Probably.

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See?  Easy.  Now do the other side.

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Wasn’t that simple?  This is fun, isn’t it?

Okay, now you just lift the lid up and tilt it back, away from you.

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I was going to just lean it against the wall behind the dryer, but I encountered a slight problem…

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There’s a shelf in the way.  And our little laundry nook is so tight that it would have taken all sorts of logistical machinations to enable me to lean the lid against the wall.

So first I tried propping the lid up with different things.  The cats’ scratching post…a ring binder…but I realized quickly that nothing like that would work. 

So I got some string.

And I looped one end over a piece of wood above…

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I tied that end with some sort of girly knot.  I don’t know what you’d call it.  But it held, so that’s all I care about.

Then I looped the other end through the hold for the lint screen and around the front of the lid.

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And I tied another girly knot.  Or two, just to be safe.

And, ta-da!  The lid will not come crashing down on my head!

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(Sorry, it’s hard to get that from this picture, but trust me, my head was not injured at all.)

Okay!  So now let’s take a look at the drum.

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Here it is.  Well, the upper surface of it.  That black stripe is the drive belt.  It’s pretty skinny.  I imagined something wide and burly, but no, it’s only about 1/3” wide.

And…mine’s broken.  How do I know?

Because if it wasn’t broken, I wouldn’t be able to do this:

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Yep.  Broken.

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Lucky for me, the local Sears has a Parts and Repairs department, and it’s only five minutes (or less, with cooperative traffic lights) from my house!

(Before I left, I made sure that if, by some freak chance, the string broke, and one of our cats happened to be nosing around on top of the dryer drum at the time, it (the cat) wouldn’t get squished.  I figured the scratching post would do the trick:

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I always worry about things like that.)

Anyway, back to the drive belt…

I called Sears first, to make sure they had the part in stock.  It’s a pretty universal drive belt, and yay, they had plenty.

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With tax, it cost $21.81.  If I’d shopped ebay or other online stores, I know I could have gotten it cheaper, but still – twenty dollars and no labor charge – that’s pretty acceptable to me.

I zipped home, singing along with the Christmas CD in our truck, and moved onto the next phase.

The drive belt loops around the drum and around the motor that drives the drum.  This motor is located below the drum, and you can’t get to it with just the lid up. 

You also have to remove the front of the dryer.

The front attaches to the sides with these two little bolts or screws or whatever they are.  They don’t unscrew with a phillips or a flat screwdriver – you need this other thing.  (Here’s where I get technical – my apologies…)  The head of this screw thing looks like an allen wrench, sort of – it’s six-sided.

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And you need a tool that fits OVER that six-sided part.  Oddly enough, there was one in a tool chest in our boiler room, almost like it had been waiting for me!

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I love it when the universe cooperates.

Anyway, it takes a bit of maneuvering, but just unscrew the screw/bolt/thing on each side of the top of the front of the dryer.

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I admit it – I had to use two hands.  The things were screwed in tightly.

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I put both screw/bolt things in the lid with the first two screws. 

At this point you can pull the front of the dryer away from the rest of it.  Like this:

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See where my thumb is?  I’m holding the drum in place as I tilt the front piece toward me.

At this point that’s as far as you can go.  The bottom of the front is sort of hooked to the side panels.  You have to lift the front up a bit and pull toward you.

Which I did.

And – yay!

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Here’s a look at the little hook thing at the bottom of the front of the side panel.

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It’s hard to see, I know.  (And hard to follow, with all my “of the of the of the” stuff.)

Anyway, once you unhook the bottom two pieces from the sides, you can pull the front away from the sides, but make sure you grab the drum before you do it, otherwise it will tilt forward.  It’s not going to go too far, but it can’t be good for whatever holds the drum in place.  You’ll need to prop the drum up with something.  I used a can and a bunch of folded-together ribbon.

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And here’s what’s inside!

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Now you need to find the motor.  Ours is at the bottom, on the right, way at the back.  This meant I had to lie down on the floor to find it.

Here it is:

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I know, it’s hard to tell anything from this tiny picture, but that bright white circle in the middle of the black area?  That whole thing is the motor.  (It’s white because the flashlight reflected off the metal.)

Anyway, you need to encircle the drum with the belt, and then loop it over the motor and through the tension weight.

That’s this thing:

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It’s right near the motor, but it’s kind of hard to see in there, so here’s a better look:

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The end of this fits into a little slot on the floor of the dryer right in front of the motor.

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Okay, so first, let’s get our brandy-new drive belt.

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The belt has two different textures – there are little V shaped grooves on one side, and a cloth-like texture on the other.

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(Smooth, cloth-like side is on the left, grooved side is on the right.  Hard to see in the picture, but in real life, they’re easy to tell from each other.)

When you put the belt on the drum, you want the grooved, rubbery-feeling side against the drum.  Makes sense, right?  Rubbery will grip better.

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So, you’ve got the belt around the drum (you’ll have to move your little support thing to get it all the way around, but make sure you put the support thing back so the drum doesn’t whack you in the head), and now you need to loop it around the motor and the tension weight. 

Now, at first I thought the belt somehow wrapped around the curved part of the tension weight, and it does, but not the way I’d pictured it.  It took a bit of trial and error (and my glasses slipping, and how do I hold the cell phone/camera, the flashlight, the belt, the tension weight AND loop the belt around the motor with ONLY TWO HANDS???), but I figured it out.

I think I need to draw a diagram for you. 

Dryer schematic

The belt is that green line, and you can see how it loops around the curvy part of the tension weight, then around the motor and back through the tension weight thing. 

I needed both hands to do the actual looping, so there’s no step-by-step photo for that bit. That’s why I drew the picture.  🙂

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And here it is – belt on and looped appropriately.

Yay!

After that I removed my support things, hooked the bottom of the front panel back on the clippy things at the bottom (it wasn’t as difficult as you might think), then screw the top of the front panel back to the sides…then lower the top, screw in the lint screen opening, and….

plug it back in.

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Start up the dryer…

(it sounds like it’s working!)

And then…

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Quickly, before the dryer knows what you’re doing…

OPEN THE DOOR!

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If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the drum SPINNING!

It will stop quickly, but that’s okay.

IT WORKS!

Yay!!!!

And all this with only minimal bloodshed.

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That must have happened while I wrestled with the belt, motor, and tension weight.  Didn’t notice it until I was opening the dryer door.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it will leave a scar.  Oh well.  I will still have the memory.

Anyway, THAT is the story of my Large Appliance Repair Adventure!

Time to go bake cookies.

7 thoughts on “Fixing My Dryer

  1. Hex wrench! Thank you!

    Actually, weve ordered pizza because Im baking cookies tonight and cant cook. (And neither can anyone else, since Ive taken over the whole kitchen). But thats okay – Im just very happy that I got it done!

  2. Hi Jayne,
    You sure are one talented person!! love the oictures and descriptions.
    What else can you fix?
    Your family should be proud of you!
    Maybe you should have a home repair blog too!

  3. I’m so proud of you!!! I think Newton’s Law should have something about December, because if an appliance is going to break it does it a couple of weeks before Christmas (2 years ago… dishwasher.) If a car is going to break down or accident happen (7 years ago, slid off the road into a ditch and took out 4 fence posts, major bucks for a wrecker and the fence)it’s going to happen this month. Or health problem happens (yesterday a broken crown, tooth to be cut out next week!) Just LOVE this month.

    You did good!!!

  4. This is great! And not only did you do this yourself, you Super Woman you, but now you have a picture walkthrough of how to do it incase it needs to be done again!
    So inspirational! Next thing is to fix the camera yourself! hee hee.

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