Fixing Your Own Appliances

I am a HUGE advocate for buying appliances that are easy to maintain, without computer chips and boards, and that have an abundance of readily available spare parts.

I have a washer dryer combo I purchased in 2003 which is still going strong.  In 16 years I have only changed the pump on the washer (about $20) and replaced the belt on the dryer as far as general wear and tear goes.   When I moved back from Japan the movers crushed the top of the washer and dryer and broke the timer switch on the washer and some plastic brackets.  I negotiated a settlement and fixed all that stuff up like new as well.

Yesterday I came home from a weekend camping trip and my daughter was drying some clothes and the dryer sounded FUNNY.  It was still working, still heating but it sounded FUNNY.   I couldn’t take it anymore and took the front off.  Down at the bottom right corner of the dryer is the Blower Wheel.

Yep, it looks broken all right.  Let’s get a new one.

In the diagram below is the blower wheel and parts. Item 10 is the Blower Wheel and it is held on by item 11 which is just a clamp.

The plastic wheel slips over the drive motor.  It was all jammed up with hair and small amounts of lint which got by the lint screen.  When I pulled the clamp off, as that was the easiest way to get at the gobs of hair wrapped around it I noticed all the plastic tabs on the inside were essentially broken off.  The clamp was kind of holding everything together.

While I got it cleaned up really good and got the clamp back over the broken tabs, in the back of my mind I know it is broken and will eventually either break catastrophically or the wheel spinning around off balance might eventually foul up the drive motor.

I decided to order a new one.  The going rate for this wheel is about $40 – $45.  I took the part number and went on eBay and found a guy selling an OEM Whirlpool part (all these washers were made by Whirlpool regardless of the brand name) for $35 with a “Best Offer”.  I threw down an offer of $25 which he accepted.  Here’s the new wheel.

So I saved myself a few bucks.  Here it is installed:

Sadly even this could have been prevented had I just opened the dryer once every year or two and just cleaned the inside.

Still, owning a $300 dryer since 2003 and only having replaced a belt and a Blower Wheel for less than $35 or so is a pretty good investment.  The US of A really used to make great appliances and in fact the town I grew up in had a giant Whirlpool plant which made white goods.  And yep, you guessed it, one day they went away to Mexico following implementation of NAFTA signed by Bill Clinton (GRRRRRRRRRR) to make the company more profit and to heck with the 1100 or so people in Evansville Indiana who proudly made these durable goods for years.

Anyway I digress.  When you are buying appliances DO NOT buy the fancy pants stuff with flashing LED’s and an internet connection.  Buy the good old stuff with a big old timer switch.  My dryer has a switch, a motor, a drum, a blower, a heater, and a thermostat and that’s almost it.  ANYONE can change all that stuff out and there are YouTube videos galore on doing it.

Save some money, some time, and do something that makes you feel proud.  Fix your own stuff.

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