The other night I had a dryer go out. I had a few surprise expenses this month, so I really didn’t want to replace a dryer on top of the other things, so I looked into how to repair a dryer.
I learned quite a bit, but the most important thing was that I fixed a $200 dryer with $7.50 worth of parts, and it only took a few minutes.
This particular dryer was a Roper, which is one of Whirlpool’s budget brands. What I found out was that when a gas dryer quits heating, it’s likely to be one of three things: a fuse, a thermostat (which are sometimes sold together as a set), or a valve coil (also sold in pairs). The nice thing about Whirlpool-built dryers is that the parts cost next to nothing.
As an aside, if the dryer won’t dry but it still gets hot, check the dryer vent.
A professional would do some diagnostics, but the parts are cheap enough that I just brute-forced it. The fuse and thermostat are right next to each other behind the back panel on the dryer. On my model, they’re near the exit vent. It makes sense to just go ahead and replace both of them because it only takes a couple of minutes longer. The fuse has two wires attached and one screw holding it in place. The thermostat has four wires attached and two screws holding it in place.
Since the back panel is easier to remove than the front, I did those first, then put the dryer back together and tried it out. It worked.
The valve coils are in the front of the dryer. If I hadn’t been in a hurry, I would have replaced those too. But I wanted to get home to watch the World Series, so I didn’t. Frequently just one of the coils is bad, but it makes sense to replace both while you’re in there. When one coil goes bad, I understand the second isn’t long for this world either.
So basically it’s possible to refurbish a gas dryer with $15 worth of parts. I actually paid more for fast shipping than I paid for the parts. I bought a second batch afterward, opting for free slow shipping, so I would have spares on hand. There’s no need to replace anything until I have a problem. That could be next week or several years from now. But when it happens, I’m ready.
Some parts are fairly universal, but it’s always a good idea to find parts that fit your particular dryer, or at least the brand. Maytag parts from before the Whirlpool buyout tend to be different from post-merger parts. GE and Frigidaire parts differ as well. Whirlpool parts tend to be the least expensive of the bunch, at least when you buy online. But you can still replace the parts in other brands for less than the price of a service call.
Of course, now I’m kicking myself a bit for getting rid of an older Whirlpool dryer a few years ago when it quit drying. I probably could have brought it back for around $15. But I also know I’m far from the only one who’s made that mistake.
What if you can’t fix it? There’s never any reason to pay full price to replace a dryer. Here’s how I save money on appliances.