Electric dryer - repair or replace?

11 Replies

Got a call from my temple university rental property that was just purchased a few months ago, so not much experience with this particular property or tenants yet.

He tells me that the dryer spins but doesn't heat up. He checks for lint blockages but there are none.

I put him in touch with my appliance repair guy who is very good an fair but does charge a flat fee to just for his trip $65. So if he tells me it's not worth fixing I'll have his cost on top of the cost of a new dryer.

Now I'm second guessing myself. Should I have just ordered a new dryer? Part of me is being lazy: I'm in the airport headed out of town for a week and didn't want to think about rushing to the property to install it as soon as I get back in town.

The property cash flows about 400/month. A new dryer would kill a whole month, while a repair would probably eat half.

Sounds like it may just be the dryer element @Max Tanenbaum  Get the make and model # of the dryer (it's right inside the door. Ask your renter for it if you can't get over there) and call used appliance places. They can sell you an element for $20-$45 and will probably show you how to replace it yourself.  Appliance repair techs are hella expensive.

You can probably find a dryer on Craigslist for $20-100.  Go through and ask everyone if they will deliver and install it for another $20.  If you are not local, ask if the seller will take a payment using paypal or Dwolla, otherwise see if the tenant will pay for it and then just take it off the rent or mail them a check.

i sI normally get a good used dryer for $100. Lately I have a couple extra washers and dryers lying around from friends, neighbors or family that just give them to me. The older dryers last a long time whereas washers have given me more trouble. I do my own property management and repairs and most of the times it s an easy and cheap fix. That said I did just junk dryer that was probably 25 years old that had a drum belt break and since I had 2 extra dryers I figured I would upgrade for the tenant. The major issues I have had with dryers are lint build up which is resolved by cleaning out the the line from inside the dryer itself to where it is piped outside. The other issue was a bad hi-temp switch which i found with my multi-tester. The part was a couple bucks, popped it in when it was delievered a couple days later and worked perfect since. So that said if the dryer is old anyway, might as well go head and just replace it as you seem a little more hands off and dinking around with repairing stuff gets expensive. For me I can troubleshoot furnace issues but if I have a tech come in and tell me the repair will cost a couple hundred bucks I'm replacing an older furnace o a more efficient model every time. 

As for the issue with the dryer. I would have them start the dryer and hold the trigger so it stays running while the door is open. There should be a grated cover in he back where the heat from the element comes out. Some models you can see it glowing red but most you should feel heat coming within a minute for sure. If there is heat, then it would be a lint getting caught in the exhaust line issue. If no heat, you would have to take he back panel off, which usually has the wiring schematics/diagram there as well. Then a multi tester to determine what is no longer working (has no resistance/connection). The heating element itself is going to be the priciest part and if the dryer is 12-15 years old, I would junk the dryer. The rest of the sensors are cheap.

I do not provide a washer and dryer in my units because it is one more thing that breaks. Especially if you overload them and you only do that if you do not care who pays for it. This had not been an issue with any prospective tenant. 

It's probably the heating element. They go out on every electric dryer and are easy to replace. I'd feel much more comfortable paying to have it replaced than purchasing a used dryer (with an element that could go out any time), and going through the hassle of picking it up, transporting and installing it.

So easy to fix...It will take you probably 30-45 minutes total.  I have fixed mine multiple times as the fuses kept blowing (it's holding now...I just know I can't dry one shirt or whatever, it has to be a full load).  Likely it's just the fuse ($10ish) on the heating element that broke, just depends if you want to spend the time to fix it.  

All you will need is a voltmeter to test the fuse to see if it's the fuse or the heating element. 

When was the last time the vent was cleaned from dryer to termination? 

If the dryer is ten years or older, I replace. 

I think if you repair, you can deduct the full cost on this year's taxes, if you replace you have to amortize/depreciate the expense over more than one year.  In case that matters to you.  I read a book about landlord tax deductions for my daughter's rental, and I just remember it saying that it's better to repair than to replace, tax-wise.

Update:

The repair man took care of it for $175. It was done in a day and cost me less than a used dryer would. I didn't have to deal with the hassle of finding, buying, removing, and installing. This property will still cash flow positive about $200 this month.

For all you nay Sayers who don't provide washers and dryers.... In my market that is a sign of a C class/low income rental and I am not that kind of landlord.

If anyone in the greater Philly area wants my appliance guys contact info just let me know. He is a fair guy who has done a handful of jobs on my rentals and plenty more for my parents over the years. It will cost you $70 for him to come out but he can often diagnose problems over the phone.

Originally posted by @Max Tanenbaum :

Update:

The repair man took care of it for $175. It was done in a day and cost me less than a used dryer would. I didn't have to deal with the hassle of finding, buying, removing, and installing. This property will still cash flow positive about $200 this month.

For all you nay Sayers who don't provide washers and dryers.... In my market that is a sign of a C class/low income rental and I am not that kind of landlord.

If anyone in the greater Philly area wants my appliance guys contact info just let me know. He is a fair guy who has done a handful of jobs on my rentals and plenty more for my parents over the years. It will cost you $70 for him to come out but he can often diagnose problems over the phone.

Good call and glad it worked out! Couldn't agree more about washers/dryers in units. At least in the better rentals in Philadelphia, washers and dryers are included. Not sure about SFH's but apartments, definitely. First thing I did in my multi was add washers and dryers to the units that didn't have. I think it'll help with retention as well as just being competitive.

@Max Tanenbaum for future references what @Steve Vaughan suggested is generally the cause... Bad element... I paid $32 including shipping for a new one on eBay; youtubed the installation steps and finished in 25 minutes. I have been called many things but handy has never been one of them. It is very easy. I am glad it worked out for you!

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