The Question Is: To Repair or Replace Your Clothes Dryer?

ByMarc Silberberg


It is a sound every homeowner dreads, one of your appliances is making strange noises. It’s happening now with my dishwasher which cleans well and even has a food grinder so there is no need to scrape the dishes. I am so used to the noise that the other day one of my guests asked what all that noise was about in my kitchen? I explained to her that my honest appliance repairman said that as long as the dishwasher works, keep it. They just don’t make them that great anymore. Although it is true that today’s appliances are smarter and have electronic keyboards that can be connected to a smart phone and can be turned on and off remotely. Yet still folks born before the turn of the century might prefer simple knobs that turn and buttons to push.

When the dryer makes strange noises, it needs to be checked by a professional. The dryer has a part called the blower wheel which has blades, and these blades can bend out of shape over time. To replace the blower wheel is not major but if the noise doesn’t disappear a new dryer is in order. (This wheel pulls air through the dryer and then pushes the air out through the vent. Large pieces of lint that are missed by the lint filter get caught in the blower wheel causing a strange noise).

Some of us who are empty nesters can do without our dishwashers by either using plastic or paper dishes or just washing the few dishes we use in the sink. Not so when our clothes dryer is giving us signs of breaking down. No one wants to put out their clothes on the line except something extremely delicate that you want to avoid placing in the dryer. No matter how few people are living in your home, your clothes dryer and your washing machine are crucial to your standard of living. It may only be used twice a week or twice a day and that of course will be one of the factors that determine how long your clothes dryer will be of good service to you.

Even if you live alone, you still have to use your clothes dryer on a regular basis to dry your sheets and towels and these types of items do not do well without a clothes dryer. Your towels will be hard and stiff when taken out of the washer and hung up to dry and the clothes dryer adds fluffiness to the towels even without fabric softener sheets. There is nothing more luxurious than using a freshly dried towel when coming out of the shower on a cold winter day.

Some folks have a place for their washer and dryer in the bathroom and they can actually have a nice warm towel come straight out of the dryer after a bath or shower. There is also a specific towel warmer on the market that is not too expensive if you have room for it in your bathroom. In any case, warm or room temperature your towels must be dried in the clothes dryer.

Sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers can be line dried, but you need a really long rope in your laundry room to hang those duvet covers especially if you own a queen or king size bed. Where could you possibly hang such a huge piece? Well, my sister hangs her duvet covers on her upstairs banisters and that works for her as long as she doesn’t have fancy company that day who may ask or wonder to themselves what the laundry is doing on the banisters? Truth be told your bedding does last longer keeping it out of the dryer especially if it’s one hundred percent cotton and needs to be ironed after spinning in the dryer. Still, no one in our United States today can be without a clothes dryer and if they don’t own one, a laundromat is hopefully nearby.

Many of us have a connection to our older clothes dryers, and we surely did research to decide which one to buy and even ten years ago there were quite a few options. Also, we know how long it takes to dry specific items without checking the instructions on the keyboard since the dials or buttons are not always accurate. It depends on the weight of each item and the number of items placed in the dryer at one time.

Even the consistency of the humming of the dryer can have a relaxing effect on the nerves. Ask a new mom where she puts her baby to sleep and often it will be near the laundry room since the noise of the dryer can be instrumental in wooing the baby to sleep. Yes, babies need quiet to fall asleep but somehow the even rhythm of the purring of the clothes dryer is so soothing to their little ears.

What happens when that murmuring sound of the clothes dryer becomes more like a vibrating or thumping sound? The music of the dryer is no longer a serenade for an infant but rather a rattling or cackling noise. Still, if your dryer is still doing its job even with the noise, should you call in a repairman and pay the consultation fee before he even starts the repair or start researching for a replacement?

When a dryer conks out you have no choice but to call in a repairman whom you trust and he will undeniably give you two options, fix or buy. If you are the parent of a young large family your answer might be what is the fastest way to get my clothes dry? Who has time to wait for research and discussion?

Another important query you have to ask yourself is how much am I willing to pay for a repair? Often you have grown fond of your present clothes dryer and don’t want a brand new one, but your spouse will claim it’s silly to throw out money to repair an old dryer. You will counter by explaining that they just don’t make appliances the way they used to, and you want to repair the one you have. So, who is wiser?

Meanwhile, the children are waiting anxiously for their clothes to be back in their drawers. This means asking a neighbor to please let you use the dryer. Since everything in life is predestined the visit to your neighbor may help you decide what to do, fix or buy?

You get to your neighbor’s laundry room and low and behold there is an almost brand-new dryer in this location. Now you can get an objective opinion, should I or shouldn’t fix the dryer? Each scenario is different so we will not give away the answer to this story, but you will be able to make a calculated decision by asking a contemporary’s opinion. Remember, although you are under a lot of pressure to get a working machine ASAP it is prudent to do some sound research.

When determining whether to fix or replace your dryer you must not only think about the price of the repair but also contrast the original cost of the dryer to the cost of the repair. If your dryer was quite costly when purchased you will not be so willing to throw it away but on the other hand if it was there when you bought or rented your home you will not get that draining feeling about wasted money on a superior machine that you purchased several years ago.

Here is a helpful formula to answer the question to replace or repair your clothes dryer. Depending on the age of your clothes dryer, the usage level and the brand, we can calculate the average cost of repair. For instance, if nine years ago your machine cost $600 and you do at least one load a day, a new dryer may be the right way to go. A typical repair has to cost at least $133 so you would be better off financially putting the repair money towards a new quality dryer.

However, with an expensive dryer that cost over $2,000 only three years ago, a repair over $200 would be worth doing. There are other ideas to investigate to make a qualitative decision on repair or purchase. You may have an extended warranty on your machine and there might be a small deductible and the rest will be taken care of by the warranty company. You can look up your machine online by model number and manufacturer to check if there was a recall on your model. The newer machines called “Smart Dryers” can have self-diagnostic options that can be fixed remotely.

Of course, before calling in a repairman you must check by yourself for obvious problems such as lint buildup, and detachment or bends in the hose in back of the machine. Someone may have overloaded your machine with heavy towels, blankets and even pillows which would have to be partially removed and the machine restarted. Sometimes the dryer vent outside the house gets clogged; go outside and check and feel if the airflow is strong coming out of the vent when the dryer is on.

Final Words

The typical lifespan of a dryer is approximately ten to thirteen years and after that it will need replacing if not functioning properly. Newer dryers have Energy Star Certification meaning they use less energy saving you money. Old dryers actually can cost more money to operate and wear out eventually using even more electricity. (Bear in mind that new gas dryers need to be checked by a professional to make sure that the line is hooked up correctly.) Also, it can cost between $50 and $200 for installation so that expense should be added to the cost of a new clothes dryer.

Many dryer manufacturers have a customer service hotline or computer chat service so that you can figure out the problem before you call a repairman. Sometimes all you have to do is clean the lint trap to get your machine going again. Dryers don’t have as many parts as washing machines and it could be easier to diagnose the problem before calling the repairman. That will save time and money since the technician can immediately zero in on the problem.

If your dryer is less than ten years old and or has Energy Star Certification and is not working optimally it probably needs professional dryer duct cleaning. This is a service that will not only make your dryer work better but make it last longer. Even before you have any servicing issues it’s a good idea to have your dryer ducts cleaned regularly. Your dryer duct professional will give you a timetable as to how often this service should be done depending on how much your dryer is used.

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