Vital Statistics

Van odometer: 151601
Weight lost (in pounds): 10
Aches & pains: sciatic, right ankle
Current reading: The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Recent listening: ClutchThis American Life
Recent viewing: The Quiet, The Office, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Democratic Presidential Debate, America’s Funniest Home Videos
Recent playing: n/a
Recently accomplished: Joined Bally’s gym, finished 401k rollover, replaced heating element in clothes dryer, tagged old blog posts, prescription refill, coordinated Xbox repair
Imperative To Do: Sell G4, get rid of junk (couch, vacuum cleaner, mower), buy trailer for van, activate new Tivo, weed & feed, change voter registration, develop comprehensive reward/punishment plan for homework, bike to work

A junk yard fool with eyes of gloom

When things break, I am always compelled to take them apart in an effort to find out what is wrong. Most of the time, I remove the top cover/back panel/what-have-you, glance inside and conclude that I am simply out of my league. I can see nothing wrong or even recognize anything that I am looking at. On a few occasions I have been able to identify potential problems but did not have the expertise or knowledge to confirm and fix the problem. Last night I was able to make that final step: identify the problem and find a solution.

Sunday was the first anniversary of the new heating element we had to get for our dryer last year. At that time the dryer was less than a year old but surprisingly out of warranty. Although a certain amount of blame lies with us for failing to check the warranty terms (90 days) at purchase time, I mostly blame Sears for selling such shoddy products that they can’t warranty them for a year or three. I suspect they have done this in order to push their extended warranty programs, or “maintenance agreements“, as they prefer to call them. As you might imagine, we were angry over the warranty issue and even angrier when we had to pay the Sears repair man over $200 to fix something we considered to be “new”.

So how did our heating element celebrate the end of it’s first year in service? It quit. It totally stopped heating the dryer and Tina had to take our weekend laundry to the nearest laundromat to dry it. Once again we were angry, but there was no way we were going to call Sears this time. After mulling the situation for a day, I consulted howstuffworks.com for any advice they might have about fixing dryers. Their article on clothes dryers was informative, but did not contain any advice for fixing broken dryers. They did, however, point to a link at RepairClinic.com which eventually led me to a section entitled “There’s no heat.” That article lays out a basic inspection plan for determining which electrical component has failed. With this knowledge and my multimeter in hand, I unplugged our dryer and removed the back with only a little hope of actually accomplishing anything.

What lay behind the cover was much simpler than I had counted upon. After testing the thermal sensors (as prescribed by the RepairClinic article) it wasn’t long before I narrowed the problem to a little box near the bottom. After removing two screws, the little box came off easily and revealed that it had a matrix of coiled wires attached to it. I had discovered the heating element! A quick continuity test confirmed that this was the faulty component and I even found the broken coil after a quick inspection. An online search for the model number yielded an average price of about $40 for the replacement part.

I can’t tell you how good I felt at this moment. Not only was I victorious in finding the problem, disassembly had been so quick and easy that I have full confidence in being able to install the new element. It is also reassuring to know that if the element breaks again, I can replace it myself relatively cheaply. And we won’t have to call the damn Sears repair man ever again.

 

Update 4/17: I found a little additional information about Kenmore appliances on Wikipedia. Most large appliances are manufactured for Sears by Whirlpool, who also manufactures under the brand names Maytag, Amana, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air and many others. In addition to Sears’ OEM business, Whirlpool also makes products for Best Buy, Home Depot and IKEA. Iowa residents might note that in 2007 Whirlpool shut down the Amana manufacturing plant in Newton as well as plants in Illinois and Arkansas. I’m guessing those jobs probably went to China and Mexico where Whirlpool does much of it’s manufacturing.

Vital Statistics

Van odometer: 151601
Weight lost (in pounds): 6
Aches & pains: sciatic, right ankle
Current reading: The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Recent listening: News from Lake Wobegon, Go Tell It On The Mountain by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Fruitcakes by Jimmy Buffett
Recent viewing: The Colbert Report, Are We Done Yet, Mystery Men, 10 Things I Hate About You, Vacancy
Recent playing: Guitar Hero III
Recently accomplished: Rynosoft.com archives, mowed and trimmed lawn, paid bills, cleaned van, groceries, cat boxes
Imperative To Do: Join gym, finish 401k rollover, sell G4, get rid of junk (couch, vacuum cleaner, mower), buy trailer for van, activate new Tivo, renew prescription

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1496
Weight lost: 50 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 7
Hours billed last week: 45.5
Aches & pains: sciatic
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Recent listening: Handsome Boy Modeling School, The Zombies, Sun Ra, NPR Story of the Day
Recent viewing: The Simpsons, Mindfreak, Man vs. Wild, Biography: Johnny Depp, Biography: Howie Mandel, Gilmore Girls
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade
Recently accomplished: fixed temporary mailbox so it would open, uploaded photographs, cleaned inside of tent, installed memory and DVD drive for Thomas, sent off Lala envelopes, packed up tent, backed up Tina, Graham & me, bike maintenance, cat box, installed desk lamp for Graham, groceries, CD for Ziad, sifted through inbox items
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, sift through inbox, post office, renew van registration, pack for Iowa, finalize Iowa travel plans, clear Tivo schedule for vacation, new litter for cat box, fix boomtube, call Kent, call Colleen/Kurt, record movie for Mindy

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1468
Weight lost: 50 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 7
Hours billed last week: 47
Aches & pains: sciatic
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Recent listening: Coverville, DrugMusic, NPR Story of the Day, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Science Friday, Fresh Air, Velvet Goldmine: Original Soundtrack
Recent viewing: World Poker Tour, Nature, The Henry Rollins Show, Countdown, The Daily Show
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade, Bloxorz
Recently accomplished: Mounted mailbox on “temporary” post, reserved rental car for Iowa trip
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, backup Thomas, backup Graham, backup Tina, sift through inbox, CDs to post office, renew van registration

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: n/a
Weight lost: 53 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 7
Hours billed last week: 41
Total mice caught: 13
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
Recent listening: Coverville, DrugMusic, NPR Story of the Day, Science Friday
Recent viewing: Sportscenter, Kingdom Hospital, High Stakes Poker, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report
Recent playing: Donut Games, Elebits
Recently accomplished: Fixed Thomas’ email, helped Tina finish her Cub Scout movie, help Thomas get video on his iPod, fixed DVD player (with Dust Off), test run for Cub Scout movie on projector
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, hair cut, fix bathroom sink, buy front bike fender, taxes, move music to new drive, taxes, install CD burner in Thomas’ computer, backup everyone’s computer

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 711 miles
Weight lost: 53 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 8
Hours billed last week: 40
Total mice caught: 13
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
Recent listening: The Information by Beck, Digital Ash In A Digital Urn by Bright Eyes, NPR Story of the Day, Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs, Necktie Second by Pete Droge
Recent viewing: Countdown, Sportscenter, Kingdom Hospital, The Office, My Name Is Earl, Medium
Recent playing: Donut Games, Elebits
Recently accomplished: Reset and re-baited mouse traps, re-routed cabling in office, paper recycling, paid bills, started reunion planning, DVD for Thane
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, hair cut, fix bathroom sink, buy front bike fender, taxes, move music to new drive, taxes

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 680 miles
Weight lost: 53 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 6
Hours billed last week: 40
Total mice caught: 12
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Recent listening: Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull, KBOO Bike Show, NPR Story of the Day, Science Friday
Recent viewing: NBA Rookie Challenge, All-Star Saturday Night, All-Star Game, Daytona 500, The Daily Show, Countdown, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Medium, Battlestar Galactica
Recent playing: Donut Games, Elebits, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
Recently accomplished: Cleaned and lubed bike, office cleaning, recycling, installed longer Ethernet cable for Tivo
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, pay bills, hair cut, fix bathroom sink, clean office, rebait and move traps

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 656 miles
Weight lost: 52 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 10
Hours billed last week: 40
Total mice caught: 12
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, 7 Seconds or Less by Jack McCallum
Recent listening: Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull, Sammy Davis, Jr., XO by Elliott Smith, The Outsider by DJ Shadow
Recent viewing: Countdown, Sportscenter, Stargate SG-1, The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, Meet the Press
Recent playing: Donut Games
Recently accomplished: Mouse hunting, picked up van from mechanic, vacuumed van
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, pay bills, hair cut, fix bathroom sink, procure longer Ethernet cable for Tivo

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 622 miles
Weight lost: 53 lbs. (fixed 2/7 – bad math)
Hours of sleep last night: 11!
Hours billed last week: 35
Current reading: The Prince by Machiavelli, 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, 7 Seconds or Less by Jack McCallum
Recent listening: DrugMusic, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joe Walsh
Recent viewing: My Name Is Earl, The Office, High Stakes Poker, Saturday Night Live, Sportscenter, Countdown, Power Fuse, Super Bowl
Recent playing: Bust-A-Move, Castle Smasher
Recently accomplished: Updated personal wiki, renewed prescription, called mechanic (van is done), re-positioned mouse traps, groceries, cleaned office, paid bills
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, pickup van from mechanic, vacuum van carpet, pay bills