Finances & Money

Stupid Dude and the Dryer of Death

I shall present to you a tale of danger, mystery, woe, and a lot of stupidity. Are you prepared?

The weekend before New Years, our 6-year-old clothes dryer conked out (that’s the mystery part I guess). Being the do-it-yourself kind of guy, I decided to give my father-in-law a call to ask his advice. However, since I had my hands full with tools and video games, I let Stacie relay the information back and forth between he and I. That’s only the beginning of the series of stupid mistakes.

We had initially diagnosed the problem to be a bad starter button. The electric dryer just wouldn’t start, and that was the easiest part on which to place the blame. Now, somewhere in the communication, one side (me, Stacie or the FIL) didn’t understand an answer or a question. My FIL had told me something similar to the following:

Unhook the wires from the starter…blah blah…and touch them together

Oh, well that seemed simple. I unplugged the dryer, took the back off the control unit, popped off the plastic sleeve holding in the 3 wires that connect to the starter, plugged the dryer back in and touched the wires together.

POOF! SIZZLE! (black smoke and stars in my vision and the wire tips melted together)

Wow, that was the second stupid thing I did in the series of idiocy. Perhaps I heard wrong, or maybe Stacie miscommunicated. Either way, I was very lucky not to be dead, especially since that heavy duty dryer plug had to have some heavy-duty current running through it! Lesson Learned: Don’t touch live wires together when you aren’t clear about the instructions.

Ok, so I snipped off the ends of the wires as they were damaged, and hopped online to order a new starter (without talking to my FIL as I was too embarrassed to admit what I did). I found it on for about $26. The starter unit finally arrived on Friday (4 days later), and in the meantime, we used our kind neighbors’ dryer with some cookies in exchange.

The part came in, I unwrapped it, and then proceeded to hook the 3 wires up to the nodes, at least where I thought they should go. See, when I burned out the wires the first time, I also tossed the plastic sleeve that held all the wires, on which I marked the correct locations of the wires. You see where this is going?

So I plugged in the dryer, pushed the starter button and… POOF! (no smoke or stars this time). I burned out the replacement unit, or at least something else in the dryer. LESSON LEARNED: Stop being an idiot and call a professional before you break it further! Luckily I had enough clean underwear to last a few more days!

To our good fortune, one of Stacie’s coworkers who came over for our New Years’ Eve party heard the broken dryer story and mentioned they had an old dryer they would sell to us. It was 10 years old, but electric and a super capacity (like ours is). Apparently their washer went, and they decided to just get a new washer and dryer. I had Stacie call up that coworker, and we arranged a pickup for Sunday. Good thing I have a truck!

When Sunday finally came around, the coworker said we could have it for free. Nice!

So we drove down to Virginia (about 30 miles), went to lunch, went to Home Depot (for another problem I’ll be writing about), and then stopped off to pick up the dryer. We hauled it back to Maryland with no incident, and were able to get it into place with just the two of us (even with my injured back). We placed the broken dryer next to the “new” one as I’d still like to call in a repairman to diagnose the problem. Then, I can look into what parts and repairs are needed, and if it’s salvageable.

We’re no longer in a rush to fix the old dryer, though, because we tested the “new” one today and it works wonderfully. Preliminary tests show that it dries the clothes even better than the last dryer. Bonus!


So what have we learned?

  1. Don’t be stupid
  2. Listen to instructions carefully
  3. Let the professionals mess with electricity
  4. Talking to your friends can save you hundreds of dollars

However, I will have a success story with electricity coming up soon, so stay tuned!

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Clever Dude


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