Fixing a Series 80 Kenmore dryer

What does this have to do with homeschooling?  Well, let me tell you, first off – homeschooling is our life – it’s what we do.  It’s a “lifestyle of learning”.  And as most of you know – life gets messy sometimes.

You see – we have a backyard.  It’s great.  There is a wonderful tree to climb, a swing in the tree, a muddy spot under the swing, a place for a sandbox, and a garden.  If you like math (and I do) it’s a very simple equation – kids + going outside = dirty clothes.  Hey, they’re kids – if they aren’t getting dirty then you must have duct taped them to the wall – (No, I wouldn’t do that!  No, I haven’t done that.  No, you cannot try that.)

Anyway – back to the original point of this post – the dryer!

So here we are with this pile of laundry –

And it has to get clean – well – first it goes into the washer.  Then it comes out of the washer and goes into the dryer.  The theory being that the dryer will get warm, spin the clothes all around and they will come out (as my littlest says “Fresh and Clean”.)

I first realized there was a problem when I went to take the clothes out of the Kenmore Series 80 dryer.

  This is a stock photo I found online.  Our dryer does not look quite this good – it was here when we got the house and the top of it is now covered with magnets – why?  to cover up all of the places where the paint is scratched off – but I digress.

Here I am – about to take clothes out of the dryer – la de da – but wait – they are still wet.  I quickly review the process in my mind – clothes go into washer dry and come out wet, clothes go into dryer wet and come out dry – I look again – Yup – it’s the dryer – the clothes should come out dry.  Hmmm – ok, well maybe  it’s the lint trap.

Check that – Nope – it’s not that.

Ok – let’s see what’s up.  I turn on the dryer and I hear – the hot air fan –


Nothing else!

Phooey!  That means the drum is not turning.  I remember a story my mother told me.  She had said that dryers really aren’t that complicated.  A motor, a drum, a belt – that’s about it.  So I take the back off of the dryer.

Lesson 1 – Don’t bother to take off the back of the dryer.  There is very little to get to back there. Although, but pulling off the back I was able to peek into one of the little holes and find the dryer belt – on the floor of the dryer.  Ok – mystery solved – if the belt is not one continuous piece – then it won’t work.  

Lesson 2 – They don’t sell dryer belts at a Sears retail store.  You have to call the parts people.

Lesson 3 – The parts people are nice, however they will try to get you to buy insurance on your appliances, siding for your house and shingles for your roof.  However, I did finally get the dryer belt.

Step 1 – Realize that there isn’t anything you can do from the back of the dryer so you have to take off the front.

Step 2 – There are little clips that you have to push in order to take the top off of the dryer.  Sort of like on a car hood.  These clips are a bit hard to figure out where to push – but doable – and if you yank really hard they it will pop off.

Lesson 4 – The duct tape on the front left corner of the dryer now makes sense – the top hank been off before – and someone yanked on it because the clip is broken.

Step 3 – Realize that the top is not going to come off until you take out the stinkin’ little screws that are at the top of the lint trap.

Step 4 – Remove screws, pop top – lean top against back wall.

Lesson 5 – move things off the shelf before leaning the top of a dryer against it.

Step 5 – pick up stuff off of floor

Step 6 – Look at sheet of instructions that have been a little less than helpful in hopes of seeing something new.  (so far they said – open the top of dryer and remove front – Yeah – that’s helpful!)

Step 7 – put down instructions that say remove the front of dryer and try to figure out on own how to remove the front of dryer.

Step 8 – Needlessly detach the wire that goes from the dryer to the front of the dryer as the front is still attached and this wire, while not holding it on, isn’t helping any and is getting in the way.

Step 9 – Decide that the front of the dryer isn’t coming off so attempt to see inside without removing the front all of the way and leaning it towards you.

Lesson (hmmm – where were we again?) – Oh yeah, Lesson 6 – Did you know that the drum of the dryer is held in place by position of the front and back of the dryer and it assisted in it’s turning by a few small wheels?  Did you also know that if you pull the front of the dryer towards you the drum will follow suit and try to fall out?  Well, now you do (and so do I).

Step 10 – Continue to try to see past drum to find motor while holding drum in place with one hand and holding front of dryer with hip.

Step 11 – Decide that you really can’t see anything around the drum.  Take out the drum by allowing the front of dryer to lean forward, gripping drum as best as you can and hauling the round drum up through the square hole in the top.

Step 12 – look down into the dryer (now minus the drum) and see the motor!  Yeah!

Step 13 – Realize that a dryer is about 3 1/2 ft tall and that a person who is 5 ft tall cannot bend over the edge and reach the motor that is at the bottom!

Lesson 7 – The front of the dryer comes off by simply lifting it slightly so that the clips that were holding it on the bottom slide very easily out of their grooves.

Step 14 – Take a moment to smack yourself in the head because you are realizing that the drum would have come out a lot easier without the front of the dryer still attached.

Step 15 – Remove front, vacuum inside of dryer.  (They get incredibly dusty!)

Step 16 – Knock loose a part while vacuuming.  Decide that it probably goes in a hole at the bottom.  Put it back before anyone notices.

Step 17 – Continue to vacuum. Suck up a piece of something.

Step 18 – Become concerned as to the identity of the something.

Step 19 – Realize that is was just little bits of the broken belt.

Step 20 – Finish vacuuming.

Step 21 – Retrieve new belt from place of honor on top of the good washing machine that didn’t break and give you all of this trouble.

Step 22 – Take a look at the piece that was knocked loose.  Realize that the belt needs to go through here and there is no opening.  (Just like realizing there is no spoon – huh?).

Step 23 – Decide to fall back on 7 years of engineering school (at VA TECH – GO HOKIES!) and decide that if you can’t cut the belt (I already have a broken one – I don’t need two) – there has to be another way for it to go through funny part (also known as the idler pulley).

Step 24 – Decide that the grooved parts of the belt should be around the axle of the motor, and the smooth part should be against the idler pulley.

Step 25 – Have a revelation and figure out how to pull belt through idler pulley and attach to motor!

Step 26 – While holding the belt in place, reach back over your shoulder behind your back to get the drum.  Slide the drum into the belt while not knocking loose the belt from the motor or pulling the idler pulley loose from the floor, then realize that the belt goes around the middle of the drum and not the back so turn the drum while keeping it from falling out and get the belt into the correct place on the drum.

Step 27 – Hear a sound that means the belt came loose from something – this is also evident by the ease of which the belt goes onto the drum.

Step 28 – Lie on the floor to look under the drum while holding the drum in place with a pair of shoes (It’s what I had!)

Step 29 – See that the idler pulley has come loose from the floor – stick it back in it’s little hole and get up off of the floor.

Step 30 – Retrieve the front of the dryer and begin to put it back in place.

Step 31 – Put the dryer front back down where is was, lean down and, while holding the drum in place, remove shoes from under the drum.

Step 32 – Hold the drum in place with one had while trying to get the front of the dryer to slide back into the little slots at the bottom.

Step 33 – Holler for a child to come help you and be glad that you homeschool as this means that you have a child old enough at home to hold the drum in place while you get the front back on.

Step 34 – Get the front on, reconnect the wire that goes from the back to the front (for those who are curious – this is the sensor wire that tells the dryer when the dryer door is open and makes it stop spinning).

Step 35 – Close top of dryer.

Step 36 – Put screws back into lint trap and put lint screen back in.

Step 37 – Put the back of the dryer back on – do this while realizing you really didn’t need to take it off, but it was fun anyway.

Step 38 – Take a deep breath and test the dryer.

Step 39 – Smile when you realize that the drum is turning and you can now dry clothes again.  🙂

Step 40 – After restarting your dryer with the load of wet clothes.  Move everything that had been on the dryer back from it’s present location on the washer.  Reveal in the glory that is clean (and dry) clothes.

Step 41 – Find two screws.

And the moral is ——–

A dryer will still work even if it  has a few screws loose.