Trash the dryer?

I’ve got an older clothes dryer that isn’t working properly. It’s gas, with an electrical ignition. The ignition element seems to be working fine. When it cycles on, it glows nice ‘n’ red. About 50% of the time, the gas flows and lights up right away. The other 50% of the time, there’s no gas. The element glows for a while, cycles off, and then we roll the dice to see if the gas comes on with the next cycle. Clothes are not getting dry.

Now, as I said, this is an old dryer. It came with the house, so I’m not sure how old, but I’m guessing 15 years or so. Might be more. If this is something that’ll cost more than $150 to fix, out it goes. But on the off chance that these symptoms clearly indicate that a $25 thermocouple or fuse or something is the problem, I’ll look into that and avoid adding to the local landfill.

Anyone have a clue?

Have you looked into online sites which have appliance manuals? If your dryer is listed, you might be able to make a better guess at what could be wrong.

I like Appliance Aid for DIY info on appliance repair.

Our dryer recently had symptoms similar to yours. From the site, I decided to check the dryer vent and fan. Found a lot of lint-covered thin plastic combs clogging up things. (Teenage boys.) Once cleaned out, it works fine.

These are soome good ideas. Thanks/.

Just to be sure…

Get down near the floor and sniff. If you smell gas, turn off power to that room and call in the pros. The reason I say this is you might have a leak in the gas line leading to the dryer. That could be a cause of intermittent operation. Not a likely cause, but something to check out.

If you do smell it, and the power is off in the room, you can check for leaks via the soap bubble method.

NCB: Excellent advice. I did already do this, but my post post did not make it clear that I had. Nevertheless, any GQ post about repairing a gas appliance should have this warning somewhere. Natural gas is nothing to fool around with.

When they installed my driver, they used a cigarette lighter to look for leaks in the gas line connection! I’m not kidding.

I’ve kind of gotten over my total fear of gas. When I redid my kitchen, I installed new black pipe gaslines myself – I don’t mean I ran a flexi-hose; but whole new gas plumbing (the wall was off already). But as with electricity, don’t confuse lack of fear with lack of respect!