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Repair or replace old gas dryer?
November 8, 2010 11:28 AM   Subscribe

My old gas dryer turns off its fire after 5 minutes. Repair or replace?

We bought a house with a fairly old gas dryer (Whirlpool LG5701XKW1, circa 1985) . It runs fine for five minutes, then the flame shuts off but the drum keeps turning. Can I repair it or should we just replace it?

I cleaned out 25 years worth of lint from the case, and I put on a new metallic vent hose. (I also went outside and stuck my hand into the vent opening, and then dropped a fistful of damp felt on the ground: ugh.)

I read this question from 2007, but it focuses on one component -- whereas I haven't identified the culprit, and my wife just wants dry clothes again. :7)

One additional piece of data: when the flame is working, it shoots out under the burner, which is shaped like a spoon or ice cream scoop. However, a little flame laps around the back & base of the scoop. Is this safe, or does it also argue for tossing the thing? (Burner visible somewhere at this AppliancePartsPros link.)
posted by wenestvedt to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
 
At 25 years old, your dryer is probably borderline on the "worth repairing" scale. If you're not particularly handy and used to troubleshooting, it's going to make you angry when some other part breaks in 6 months. Parts will probably be hard to come by and expensive. My advice is to buy a new dryer. Also, replace any dryer hose with straight-wall dryer vent using as few bends as possible. This makes a huge difference in lint buildup and general dryer efficiency.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2010


Get a repair estimate, and then make your decision.

My parents have a set of 20+ year old Maytag appliances that they swear they're going to throw away the next time one breaks.

However, they still work remarkably well, and every time something breaks (which is pretty rare in and of itself), the repair bill is usually very cheap (under $100). I have a sneaking suspicion that those appliances will still be there a decade from now.
posted by schmod at 12:34 PM on November 8, 2010


keep in mind fixing your older dryer might still be cheaper then buying a new one. just because its old does not mean all parts start dying. # years ago i replaced the belt on my parents old old dryer and it still works to this day.

New dryers with all their electronics tend to not last as long as their old counterparts do. so yes new ones might use up less electricity but having to get a new one might make it even in the long run.
posted by majortom1981 at 12:48 PM on November 8, 2010


This happened to my dryer about five years ago and it turned out to be a thermostat that needed replacing. Total cost: somewhere in the $80 range, mostly for the outcall; the part was very cheap.

Also, replace any dryer hose with straight-wall dryer vent using as few bends as possible. This makes a huge difference in lint buildup and general dryer efficiency.

Lint buildup was the original diagnosis, incidentally: when there's lint in there, dryers overheat, which makes their thermostats trip. So only after disassembling the vent and cleaning it out did we get to the "oh, there's actually a mechanical problem". So I would start with the hose and then ask a repair person.
posted by norm at 3:25 PM on November 8, 2010


Aaaaaaand I just re-read the question in the "more inside" part and saw you already did that. Whoops. Regardless, I think it's worth a call to the repair people.
posted by norm at 3:26 PM on November 8, 2010


Repair it. Dryers haven't got a lot of parts, but newer dryers do have a lot more electronics (fancy countdown timers and fabric settings, etc). If you buy a new dryer and it needs a part in a couple years it'll be worse than just fixing the current dryer. My uncle used to be in the appliance repair business but got out when he noticed the trend towards ultra-cheap disposable appliances. Most of the times he would go out to service a washer or dryer manufactured in the late 90s or newer and it would require a part that cost more than the appliance did new. Whirlpool is a common manufacturer and you'll find the parts are in stock for older models and service people will have no problems finding parts for them.

I'm stuck using electric dryers where I live (no gas) and trying to find a dryer with a simple mechanical timer a few years ago was near impossible. Oddly enough it was a Whirlpool and the cheapest model. Basically a cosmetic upgrade of my old dryer that I would have just kept fixing had we been able to locate the issue with it.
posted by inthe80s at 6:45 PM on November 8, 2010


Our last dryer had issues where it would sometimes turn on and sometimes not. We had it 'fixed' by a repair professional the first time, the cost was less than a hundred dollars for a thermal sensor (they fail). You should be able to find someone to fix it for that. We ended up replacing ours with another from craigslist for less than $75, so that's also something to consider.
posted by jeffkramer at 7:58 PM on November 8, 2010


This is probably (90%) a thermocouple problem and it probably isn't defective just dirty. Definitely worth getting someone in to look.

"One additional piece of data: when the flame is working, it shoots out under the burner, which is shaped like a spoon or ice cream scoop. However, a little flame laps around the back & base of the scoop. Is this safe, or does it also argue for tossing the thing? "

Is the concerning flame coming out close to #9 in the drawing? That is a problem but again something that most likely can be easily and inexpensively fixed.
posted by Mitheral at 8:19 PM on November 8, 2010


I was in a similar situation with a gas dryer. For mine, the heat would not turn on. Found an appliance handyman, and as I recall, it cost about $175 to repair.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2010


Part of me wanted to save the old beast, but we just can't justify throwing bad money at it...so we caved and bought a new washer and dryer. Lowe's and the Home Despot had a PRICE WAR during November and we got a pretty good deal.

They delivered it this morning and I made sure that it ran toasty hot before I came into work. Yay!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2010


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