RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘yourself’

  1. Save money by repairing your electric dryer.

    January 11, 2012 by Karl

    Electric Dryerberryberryberryberry

    This article will show you how to save money by repairing your own electric dryer.  Electric dryers are relatively simple machines to fix.  With a little knowledge, the average home owner can fix their drier, no matter what the problem is.  Please note that gas dryers are not something I would encourage the average home owner to delve into.

    Electric dryers can last forever once you know how they work and how to fix them. They only generally have three basic areas that go wrong: The motor & drive belt which rotates the tumbler, the electric heater assembly, and the timer that controls it all. Of course each of the parts in these areas have their own price tag, and the owner needs to decide if it makes more sense to repair it, or replace it.   I would argue that if you can repair it yourself, it is never a good financial decision to replace an electric dryer. The most expensive part can usually be purchased somewhere online for around $100. Usually it is something very simple that goes wrong with one of these machines.

    Here are the most common things that generally go wrong with electric dryers.

    Is there power at the outlet?

    Let’s start with the very simple.  Is the houses circuit breaker tripped? Some circuit breakers actually look like they are on, but are actually tripped. The only way to be sure is to turn it off and then back on again. Unfortunately electric driers use 240 volts, so there is no other simple test to check that you have power at the outlet unless you happen to have a multimeter, and know how to use it. You can set the timer (mechanical timer), to see if it moves, but this isn’t foolproof.

    Dryer turns on, but the drum is not spinning:

    This is the simplest fix of all. It is the belt. Usually you can get the belt for less than $20 locally, or less than $10 online. I would highly recommend replacing the Idler wheel (the wheel that keeps tension on the belt) at the same time. Replacing a belt is a fairly simple procedure, and can usually be done in less than 30 minutes on most dryers. Search for your specific model number in order to find out the procedure for your dryer. Usually it is a matter of turning off the power, lifting up the top, unscrewing the front, and securing the new belt in place. You may need to print out a drawing of the path of the belt, because it can be a little confusing the first time you put one in.

    Dryer runs fine, but it takes forever to dry my clothes:

    This is usually due to lint in the dryer vent. Depending on the length of your dryer vent, this can be simple or more involved. Either way, all you should need in order to take care of this is a screwdriver. A large capacity vacuum would also be handy. Remove the hose from the back of the dryer, and use the vacuum (or your hand) to clean the lint out of the pipes. Remove each section as needed to clean the lint out of there. Make sure the path is clear all the way to the vent cap outside. If there is a lot of moisture mixed in with the lint, then it is possible that the distance of your dryer vent is too long. You may need to put in a booster fan in order to get it to vent properly.

    Dryer turns on, but there is no heat:

    This is usually either the thermal fuse, the thermostat, or the heater itself. To figure out which one it is, you will need to have a multimeter and know how to use it. Again, do an internet search with your model number to find out more. I will eventually be putting up a post on how to use a multimeter. Stay tuned. You can sometimes pick one up for a few dollars at a local hardware store, but for a good one you are going to pay at least $35.

    Nothing happens when I turn it on:

    This can either be the door switch, or the timer. The simplest way to check this out is to set the timer and see if it starts moving over time. If the timer is moving, then it is probably the door switch. The door switch can easily be jumpered out (bypassed) to verify that this is the problem. This gets kind of technical for the average home owner, but if you are up for the challenge, It’s not that difficult. You can also simply replace the door switch. You should be able to find one online for about $10 or less.

    That’s about it. Occasionally the motor will go, or the fan impeller will break, but this is relatively rare.

  2. Tune your own piano

    January 1, 2012 by Karl

    piano berry berry berry berry berry

    This article will teach you some of the basics of how to tune your own piano.  If you are a thrifty and frugal minded piano owner, this is for you.

    I grew up in a musical family. My mom was a piano teacher and concert pianist, and we all sang and played various instruments. One thing that has stuck out in my mind was how temperature and humidity sensitive pianos are.  If they are not kept at a constant humidity throughout the year, they go out of tune in as little as a few weeks. This can be a very expensive proposition for a finicky ear. I remember the piano tuner coming over regularly to keep both our pianos in tune when I was a child.

    Now with my own family, my daughter was taking lessons and practicing on a cheap electronic keyboard, so my wife started pressuring me to get a piano. I instantly started seeing dollar bills flying out the door at the first mention of a piano. Not only would we have the expense a piano purchase and moving of the beast, but keeping it tuned was going to be a nightmare.

    I slowly warmed up to the idea of buying a used piano from a local thrift store or finding one on Craigslist, but the cost of maintaining the thing seemed non-negotiable until I looked into the option of tuning it myself.  I realized that I could get the necessary tools off Amazon for about half the cost of bringing a piano tuner in for one visit.  All I needed was a laptop, some free (or evaluation) software, a tuning hammer (for some reason piano tuners call their wrench a hammer), and some “black wedge thingies” which I later found out were called mutes.

    Armed with this information, I was now actually excited about finding a piano to fix up and tune.  With a quick search, I found one on Craigslist for $50.  When I went to look at it, I almost didn’t take it because it was in such seemingly bad shape, but the woman was desperate to get it out of her house and lowered her price to $25, which was simply too good to pass up.  I probably could have gotten it for free if I pushed a little harder, but just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

    Some friends helped me load it onto my trailer, and before long it was parked on our living room floor.  I was beginning to think that I had just purchased a $25 carpet weight when I opened it up and started sucking out wads of cat hair with the vacuum cleaner.  Two of the keys played at the same time when either one was pressed down, and I discovered someone had jammed a house key between these piano keys.  Once removed, they worked fine.  I also found a quarter between another two keys, which oddly was not causing an issue.  A little furniture polish had it looking much better, but the piano was still desperately out of tune.  My newly purchased tools were still on the delivery truck passing through somewhereville USA, so I took some time to go to the library and take out a few books on piano repair.  I highly recommend doing some background reading if you want to attempt your own piano tuning project.

    UPDATE 2/9/12

    I have now revised and re-posted this article here:

    Sorry for the inconvenience.