questionsso what do you know about clothing dryers?

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I bought mine at Lowe's. Since you have the kids you don't have the luxury of shopping around as much as I did. I am sure you will make sure it is energy efficient. That was my only requirement really. In your case you will want a large unity thing that can hold a large load.

The repair man is probably right fixing it is probably more costly than buying new. It sounds like the heating element is culprit.

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1. repair v. replace: my parents had this same issue. Same story that it'd be cheaper to replace. Especially with all the deals going on right now, I'd agree with that statement.

2. electric dryers: I had the option for gas & electric. My dad explained it like this - gas comes in as hot air, you have to heat it a little more, and it's good to go. Electric needs to heat another element to then produce the heat to warm the air. Ergo, gas tends to be more efficient (per daddy, didn't do my own research).

3. stores: I got my set at Home Depot on a Black Friday deal. Lowe's carries them too. Check around to see who will give you the best deal. HD will match competitors' prices and will offer your interest-free financing for a period if you use their credit card to buy. I believe Lowe's will match and beat a competitor's price by 10%. Home Depot was cheapest and closest to home for me too. Check Colder's, American, etc. also.

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4. brands: I have a Maytag. Good reviews, reputation, and price when I purchased. My parents have Maytags with great track-records & long lives. Just our experience, though.

5. features: I'd opt for a sensor in the dryer that will know when your clothes are dry and stop operating. This keeps you from inadvertently over-drying your clothes, which shortens their lifespan by weakening the fabrics. Mine has a "wrinkle-free" mode also; it'll kick the dryer on for a few minutes (10-ish?) every hour after the cycle is complete so you don't have a pile of wrinkled laundry when you come home. Not energy-efficient, but if you're the type to re-wash wrinkly clothes, it's preferable to completing the whole cycle all over again.

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6. washer too: I'd say this would be driven by your budget and the age of the washer. Not necessarily, but if you get into a new, more efficient matching washer, you could save buying a set as opposed to just the dryer.

7. other: Dryers are the 2nd largest energy-consuming appliance in most households. (#1 is usually the fridge.) Opting into EnergyStar models can save you big on operating costs.

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Oh yea I was always taught that you buy them in a set, I think because that way they wear together? Plus you are usually buying the same brand, year etc. Plus if you buy in a pair you can get a deal. I actually have a stackable - you don't want that - but I will tell you I LOVE LOVE LOVE my front loading washer.

The washing machine uses the most water out of all our appliances baring the dishwasher, so getting a front loader is the way to go. I checked consumer reports before I picked my unit, I would suggest you do the same on anything you are looking at.

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@erikadyscern: Ah, yes, something I actually know about. I humbly disagree with our esteemed colleague, Hobbit, as to front loading washers. Many of them are very prone (in more humid climates) with building up mold and musty smells, and need to be cleaned often. The newer "High Efficiency" washers are better for your clothes (since they don't have the evil agitator), but there are more recent entries in the market that are top loading instead of front loading, which makes them far less prone to the mold buildup problem of earlier models (some of which did not empty properly, either).

I have a Maytag Bravos, and am quite happy with it.

As to dryers: the comments on gas versus electric are correct. I really MISS my gas dryer. I have a Maytag, currently (older than the HE, which I bought last year). Try Lowe's or Home Depot. Do NOT buy it from Sear's. Ignore anyone who talks about extra warranties, or insurance, or any of that crap.

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agreed about the front-loaders. I can't keep the mold/mildew from coming. All it takes is to leave a load in overnight and it has to be rewashed with bleach or vinegar.

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I don't have any major know-how to do any power-plays against @shrdlu's comment about front-loaders (nor any desire to try to argue)... However, from my experience, if you have a good (meaning likely to be a significant up-front cost) HE front-loading washer, I've had excellent luck with them. They do require a bit of cleaning, but I've never had any issue other than that.

As to name brands, I've had good experiences with Maytag, Bosch, and the newer LG lines.

And avoid any ridiculous, extra warranties... they'll give you so much grief in running around that you'll wish that you had just paid more up-front for something that you knew would last longer.

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DO NOT BUY A NEW DRYER.

... at least not without trying to fix it yourself first. I've fixed mine several times and it's really quite easy. There are websites out there that step you through everything from opening it up to troubleshooting.

If I had to guess, I'd say that you have a open thermal switch ($20 from a local appliance parts store).

Check out these websites:

http://www.applianceaid.com/ -- Start with "Appliance Repair Aid"

http://www.repairclinic.com

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If you're determined to buy a new one, Lowe's sells a Roper (made by Whirlpool) for $300. You'll never get your money back out of the fancy $800 washer and dryers.

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I have a HE front-load washer with no mold problems, personally. However, I don't launder often. My washer did come with a care guide that suggests you need to run a clean cycle to avoid smells. I suspect @shrdlu's perspective has more merit for a family than my experience.

I have a Maytag Epic Z washer and dryer. They work fine. The dryer has an auto-sensor to dry "just before it's completely dry" which I think (per the previous posts) is ideal, although it bothers my mother significantly when she comes to visit. You can ask it to dry it further.

As a note, Maytag was purchased by Whirlpool a while back. I suspect this means that their quality and service are comparable, but it depends on how integrated they are (I don't know).

There are new-fangled dryers that will "freshen" your clothes, but my feeling is that they're overrated.

Also, I had replaced an electric dryer with a gas dryer. Despite the additional cost of the dryer and the gas line, I say gas is worth it.

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@djbowman: Have you tried something like these?

http://www.amazon.com/Whirlpool-W10135699-Affresh-Efficiency-3-Tablets/product-reviews/B00132Q9M2/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R237IIHRLKTH4I

Although, I suspect the bleach and vinegar are cheaper... I can't vouch for them, as I haven't had many issues with my washer; but that was on my washer's instruction manual.

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I have fixed three dryers and two washers. If you can do it yourself, it's usually cheaper than buying a new machine (but that depends on the problem). I agree with @1rudeboy that it's probably a switch.

If you don't have the handyman skills to do it yourself then buying will be cheaper if you stay on the lower end of the price spectrum. That being said, my personal recommendation is almost always buy scratch and dent or displays.

I also respectfully disagree with the Sears haters. I have had problems with Sears, but I've also found spectacular deals on machines I still own many years later. Check out SearsOutlet.com, specifically http://www.searsoutlet.com/d/products.jsp?md=ct_md&cid=566&ps=50 (select your store locations for specific results to you). I furnished my kitchen with top of the line appliances with certain features we wanted for about $2500 less than buying anywhere else. Lowe's and Home Depot also have standard areas they keep there clearance products in.

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As to buying together: why spend money if what you have works well? Do the math on buying a washer and run cost for the next 5 years vs. the run cost on keeping what you have. Unless you want them to look pretty and do fancy stuff, all you need these things to do is wash and dry your clothes.

As to the kind of washer: Let's say you're at Lowe's and you find a front load washing machine on clearance for $300 because it has a dent in the side. You've already done the math and a high efficiency washer at that price will actually save you money. Are you going to skip over it because it's front load? I hope not. Front loaders are notorious for mold/mildew problems. But it's not a guarantee that that model will have problems. There are steps you can take to avoid even having to clean out the problem areas such as leaving the door open when not in use (water evaporates instead of sitting).

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In my first comment I said, "buying will be cheaper if you stay on the lower end of the price spectrum." That is a tautological statement and not exactly what I meant. What I meant was that buying will be cheaper than repairing it if you stay on the low cost end. In other words, if you pay $600 for a new dryer, that's not going to be cheaper than having it repaired.

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@erikadyscern:

My dryer just recently broke and I did get it fixed for about $150. It would not heat either. I would have fixed it myself as the part is easy enough to replace, but my particular model requires the entire front and top of the dryer to be removed. Sometimes there is a small door on the front for access or you can remove just the front panel, which makes it easier. Check the manufacturer's website on location of piece and troubleshooting tips. Some of them give great step-by-step instructions.

I have 4 kids and Maytag has been very reliable for us and I also think that gas is the way to go.

If I remember from another thread, you are in the Chicago area so I would suggest that you try Abt Applicances (abt.com)for comparison shopping. They have tons of options, great sales people, and a huge showroom. Also, if someone returns an item that did not fit, they sell them at a deep discount, just because they are out of the box.

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I once saw a @thefenst fix one with his bare hands and live to tell about it.

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First disconnect the power plug. 220V WILL KILL YOU!

Ok, now if you're still here and have a good respect for electricity, it's more likely that the heating element just burned out. Here's how to check. Without any clothes in the dryer, turn on the unit for one minute. Open the door and check the air temperature. If it's a little warm then the heating element is ok and it's more likely a thermostat safety. If it's not warm it's more likely the heating element. Search the internet for a diagram of your unit. If the heating element is contained in a small square housing then it's easy to change, there are two electrical connections and one mounting screw. If the element circles the door, it's a two person job to change but can be done. I've found most replacement elements to be $25 to $60.

When you have the machine open, clean the lint out of every thing.

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I researched washer and dryer sets for months before purchasing. Finally got the LG WM2050CW and matching dryer and we love them. Bought them from Home Depot because they had the best price with free delivery and installation, while places like Best Buy charge $70+ for delivery.

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Thanks all for your great comments. My husband and I aren't fixing sorts so I don't know how far we are going to go in that direction. Wow that sounds like an odd thing to say but DH really has no ability in that area and I have very very little.

At this point, we haven't done anything (and I am rapidly running out of clothes so we really need to get this under control.) I have been able to determine the following... The current dryer is an electric Whirlpool dryer that was manufactured in 1990. So, at least I know it wouldn't be ridiculous to replace it. I will update with info on what we end up doing.

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If it's an electric dryer, and it's only the heating element, you can easily repair it in about 30 minutes (also depends on how much room you have to move the dryer around). Once you've pulled the heating element you can easily see if a coil is broken. Replace it and you're all set.

I'd also recommend cleaning inside the dryer and vent line to make it last longer. Just vac it out.