Well, it's January, which means that we're a few weeks past the Christmas expenditures and a couple of months away from Uncle Sam's tax refund check. Or, in other words, it's time to play every home owner's favorite game: the game of appliance roulette!
The game goes like this: try and guess which of your aging appliances will decide to die sometime between December 20 and January 31. Will it be the microwave? The dishwasher? The stove? The refrigerator? The washer or dryer? The TV or computer? The--oh, let's hope not--heating or air conditioning unit?
The most dramatic Appliance Roulette loss we ever had happened the year our oven caught fire on Dec. 22. Yes, three days before Christmas when the girls were quite young, Thad and I were wrapping presents while the girls watched a Christmas-themed cartoon, and in between I popped out to the kitchen to put some chicken in the oven. A few minutes later we heard panicked pounding on the door, and Kitten yelling something about something burning in the oven. "Oh, darn," I theoretically said (it may have been worse), and I ran out into the kitchen expecting that some particle of the dinner had fallen out of the pan and made contact with the heating element. Instead, I saw the element itself on fire, burning up like a demented and very lost July 4th sparkler. The next few minutes involved Thad, a fire extinguisher, and total chaos.
Amazingly enough, the nice man at that big box hardware store told us an hour or so later that we could indeed have that inexpensive replacement model delivered on Christmas Eve. We cheered. The credit card may have shrieked, but we cheered. :)
And I saw earlier today by the receipts we've saved that it was almost exactly a year later that the washing machine gave up the ghost--right after Christmas. At least, the receipt for the replacement one was dated December 30 of that year; I honestly don't remember it being right after Christmas, but receipts don't lie.
The dryer was good to us--it decided to die apart from the Christmas schedule. Of course, it caught fire as Thad tried to repair it on a September afternoon about five years ago, and I could have done without the "catch fire and then die" motif started by the stupid oven; but I appreciated the dryer's thoughtfulness in not choosing to quit right in the middle of the Christmas season. This was especially nice because we ended up having three separate dryers delivered to our house before one of them actually, you know, got hot and dried clothing, instead of producing as much lukewarm inefficient air as a typical politician.
Alas, the replacement dryer is more of a "team player" with the rest of the appliances: it died Monday, about five years after we originally bought it. Okay, so technically it's not dead; technically we could order about $150 worth of parts and fix it ourselves, provided we don't have a repeat of that whole "catch fire while trying to fix it" thing; or we could spend the money on the parts plus who knows how much more on a repairman's services. Here's the thing, though: the dryer cost just under three hundred dollars when we bought it five years ago, and it still costs just under three hundred dollars. And a new one will be under warranty again (not that they ever break during that time period, however long the warranty, but still). And a couple of appliance repair sites said that even when you replace the particular parts we'd have to replace, you're probably not going to get lots of years of service out of the thing, because the fact that those parts went bad in the first place probably means that your home has an airflow/venting issue. Which ours probably does (who thinks it's a good idea to vent a dryer into an unfinished attic in Texas, anyway)?
The point is that even a really good, expensive dryer only lasts about a decade nowadays, and this wasn't a good, expensive dryer. So, we're probably going to go ahead and replace it, rather than spend half the original price (or more) of the machine trying to repair it.
I'm actually really surprised that I'm going to be purchasing a new clothes dryer. In this year's game of appliance roulette, I'd have put money down on the dishwasher. Which I probably shouldn't even write--I don't want the computer giving the dishwasher ideas, now, do I?