Carolyn says, Now we are so happy, we must do the Dance of Joy! date Appliances
So the dryer was busted.
We have five appliances -- fridge, stove, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer -- and pretty much one of them is busted at any given time. The dishwasher caught fire shortly after we moved in to the house; the power cable comes out of the wall and goes into a little sheet-metal box where it connects to the internal power cable via some Mars connectors. The little sheet metal box is there so that if anything goes wrong, like everything catching fire, it'll stay contained. This is good, because the little sheet-metal box also has really sharp edges, which over the years cut through the insulation on the cables and caused a short circuit which started a fire. Fortunately, the box then did what it was intended to do, and smothered the fire by depriving it of air, so the only damage done was to everyone's nerves, running about looking for the source of the stinky plastic smoke.
A while later the washing machine flooded, something it would do once every six months or so for the following two years, each time from a different cause. The first time it was because a bucket was left in the sink into which it drains, and after floating around for a bit it must have drifted under the stream of discharging water, filled up and sank, plugging the sink's drain so it filled and overflowed.
The next time it flooded was due to a hole in the barrel near the top -- water only came out on the spin cycle, as the clothes were squeezed up by the spinning drum. Not much water would come out, but it's in a closet off a carpetted hall, and damp carpets are no fun. I fixed that one with some marine epoxy, one of those super-space-age plastics that will bond to anything, including enamelled metal.
The flood after that was due to a the tube up to the water level sensor getting plugged with lint or something -- I was never quite sure. The thing just filled up and kept on filling, merrily spilling water all over the place. If it hadn't been caught the whole lower level of the house would have been flooded. All I did to fix that one was pull every bit of tubing off that I could get to, and drain all the water out and bang things around. After I put it back together again everything seemed to work, for a while.
The final flood I never figured out the cause, because at that point it became obvious that the thing had to go. The interesting thing is that the new washing machine flooded over the first time it was turned on -- it also had a non-functional water-level sensor. It's times like this that make me think the universe is more malevolent than you might believe.
Somewhere in the midst of all these washing machine failures the dish washer packed it in entirely, and I spent a year doing dishes by hand, but thanks to the generosity of a relative it was replaced recently, and the new one hasn't caught fire yet. So for about two weeks we had five working appliances, an clearly unnatural state of being that couldn't last. And it didn't.
Two days ago the dryer stopped working. No power, no light, no nothing. This is a pain when you have a washing machine full of wet clothes, and it's alternately raining and freezing out (though thankfully no freezing rain, yet.) The obvious conclusion that any Rational Man would draw is that the fuse was gone, so I got a couple of new fuses the next day, without testing the old ones -- it was so obvious it was hardly required. Except it didn't work. New fuses resulted in the same behavior as before: no heat, no light, no power.
So I unplugged it and put a voltmeter on the hefty-duty power outlet the dryer connects to, and sure enough there were volts enough to fry a cat, so the problem had to be inside the box, I Rationally told myself. I started to open things up, hoping there'd be an internal fuse behind the little panel where the power cable went in. Being inherently lazy and a little curious, rather than take ten paces down to the basement to get a proper tool I decided to see if I could do the job with my Leatherman pocket thingy, which folds out into a pair of pliers, a knife, various screwdrivers, bottle-openers and a toasting-fork.
Beneath the panel there was just a contact block, which looked ok -- I tightened a couple of the screws, just for the look of the thing, but there clearly wasn't any bad contacts there. The next step was to take off the other little panel on the back, which turned out to cover the bearing that the drum rotates on, and was devoid of electical interest.
The top of the dryer looked like it was held on by just two bolts at the back, which I managed to unloose at the cost of only a little bit of skin and blood -- pliers don't make the best wrenches, and when you're holding a bolt in your fingers and the pliers slip, they tend to pinch your fingertips kind of hard. Ouch.
The top seemed a bit sticky, so I heaved on it pretty hard. It's amazing how easily the sheet metal bends. After that I discovered a couple of extra screws at the front, which the Leatherman undid nicely, and was able to bend the warped flange mostly back into place.
Inside, there was a large mass of tangled wires, an elastic band, a very dusty pair of underwear and a year's supply of odd socks. There was also a wire that used to run to the little switch that the door actuates, dancing gaily in the breeze.
I reconnected the wire, cleaned out the socks (none of which seemed to be my socks, mind -- I think there's a hyperspatial shunt that connects all the driers in the world, randomizing our socks for the betterment of humanity) and put everything back together, taking off more skin in the process.
Powering it back on, I pushed the button and was rewarded by that annoying squeaky whine I've come to know so well. So now I've got five working appliances again, although the fridge was making a funny rattling sound this morning....