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A few weeks ago, while Hubby and Young Son were bear hunting, I threw a load of laundry into the dryer, heard a noise coming from it that wasn’t usual, smelled a slight burning smell, and promptly turned off the dryer and unplugged it. Burning smells make me nervous and I don’t like to take any chances. We figured that was it for the dryer – we needed to replace it. (We’d called a business about repairing it, but were told that with the age of the dryer, it would probably be cheaper to buy new than to repair the old.)

Today, because we figured it would do no harm, Hubby and I decided to take apart the dryer and see if anything looked amiss. Because the back had obvious screws to remove, we started there. Once we got the back off, we figured the top would easily pop up. Wrong. We peered at all the seams, looking for ways to maneuver the top off. We were certain their were hooks somewhere holding the thing tightly in place. No success.

It dawned on me that maybe we could find a solution online. Perhaps someone had posted a diagram showing how to take apart the dryer. I did a search for our dryer – a Maytag Dependable Care – and within a few short links found what I needed. ApplianceAid.com had a list of troubleshooting items to choose from and gave good instructions, including pictures, for how to dismantle the dryer and what to look for as far as potential problems.

Turns out we had started on the wrong side of the dryer. There was no need to take off the back. We had to go to the front, remove the door, then the front plate, then the bulk head. We thought perhaps there was a problem with the fan blower, but that looked fine. So did the belt. We couldn’t find any obviously broken part, but the dryer was filthy inside. We vacuumed everything we could reach and took off the fins (the things  that tumble the clothes) inside the drum. We discovered one coin in each of two fins, plus two coins inside the remaining fin. That certainly explains the constant rattling we’d become accustomed to. We also found several perfectly round felt balls that had formed inside the fins.

Three felt balls and 31-cents found in fins of Maytag dryer.

Three felt balls and 31-cents found in fins of Maytag dryer.

After the thorough cleaning, we put the dryer back together, plugged it in, and gave it a whirl. I caught whiff of the same burning smell I had smelled when I put the dryer out of commission. We let it run for a minute or two and the smell disappeared. It was heating properly, too. And, bonus! No rattling. We dried a pair of jeans in it and all was fine, so I grabbed the rest of the damp load off the lines and threw them in. No problem. (About 5 minutes after I brought the clothes inside, it began raining. What a close call.)

It appears that our dryer is working again (crossing our fingers it stays that way). The nearest we can figure is that the dust that had built up inside had gotten on the heating element, producing the burning smell (like dust on a hot light bulb). What a relief to have one problem solved.