Monday, August 10, 2009

Broken dryer, broken washer - and some recommendations

Our Maytag Performa is about 7 years old, well out of the warranty period and has worked fine through rather heavy use by our family of 5. Just recently it has learned a new trick, however: It won't stop spinning. And since everybody in the family does laundry, it has run for hours, literally, without the right person happening to notice and check on their laundry. It has only done this on the delicate cycle, so far.

Trying to head off having to buy a new washer, I did some googling and found I typed in my question and accepted the category that it had already selected for me based on my Google search (appliance problems). The site asked me how much I would be willing to pay for a good answer to my question. Possibilities were $14, $24 or $35. I went with the default of $24. It ran my credit card for that amount as a deposit. Then it threw my question out into its pool of expert answerers. I'm not kidding, less than 3 minutes later I had an answer from an appliance repairman with over 20 years' work experience. He told me what part I could replace to fix the problem - and also told me that I could just not use the delicate cycle anymore. Knowing that I don't have to buy a new washing machine - and indeed that fixing the problem is not even critical - was worth $24 to me, easy!

Now this caused a very short-lived crisis of conscience for me. You see, early this summer, our dryer (much older, a Kenmore that we bought at a garage sale and from which we have certainly gotten our money's worth of work) quit working. K opened the door to check the clothes that were in it and when he closed the door again, it failed to turn on. I checked with a website I already knew about: Dave Harnish is a rather remarkable man: He's a very experienced appliance repair person whose philosophy can be summed up by the Emerson quote on the bottom of his web pages: "Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing." He also likes old appliances and sees no point in chucking them into landfills when a few tweaks will get them running again, saving the purchase of a big shiny new one that probably won't hold up anywhere nearly as well. I "met" Dave when I was researching Sunbeam Mixmasters. He's a fan of vintage Mixmasters, and we chatted back and forth about those. I signed up for his newsletter in which he passes on advice about appliance maintenance and how to choose a good machine to last.

Anyway, back to the dryer: I dropped Dave an email and he immediately replied, telling me that it was one of two things. It turned out to be the first: Something had happened to the door switch. That's all! Such a simple thing. Evidently it had gotten bent a little. Barry bent it back and poof, a working dryer. That was in May, I believe.

I just now sent Dave $24 by PayPal. I had never paid him for his help (and he had not asked), but if I was willing to pay a stranger $24 to give me advice on my washing machine, I thought it was the least I could do! Dave also carries the part that my Maytag needs if and when we decide to really fix it and start washing delicate clothes again. My conscience is (temporarily) clear.


Mrs. Mac said...
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Mrs. Mac said...

I bought one of those supposed energy efficient Whirlpool .. top loading .. washers about six years ago .. big mistake .. it overworked the fabric in our clothes and towels so they didn't last as long .. it broke down and needed an espensive repair (some type of boot device) .. then we moved it with us and it once again broke down needing an expensive repair .. I said no . and bought a new Kenmore without any brain in it .. just push/pull dials .. it uses more water but it's going to last (I hope) with less costly parts to replace .. I'm glad you mentioned the websites here and that your washer and dryer were easy fixes. The new appliances are nothing but junk not meant to last. Soon I'll make a post about my LG fridge ;(