How to Buy a Used Dryer

March 3, 2013

Buying Guides, How-to

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dryers

We don’t throw cars away because they need new windshield wipers or an oil change. Yet when it’s time for routine maintenance on an electric dryer, most people throw their hands up and purchase a new one. Somehow the electric dryer has become disposable, much like a toaster. Not all dryers are created equal however, and some deserve a chance at a second life

(I was being contacted so often by people wanting to learn the appliance business, we built an entire training course and community that teaches people everything about the appliance business at ApplianceSchool.com)

What kind of dryer should you buy?

Whirlpool-made electric or gas dryers, are without a doubt, the best value in dryers for three simple reasons.

1. Initial Cost. They are close to, if not the least expensive dryers on the market, and they dry clothes just as well as the other brands and designs.

2. Ongoing Costs. They require the least amount of maintenance. All dryers are going to need maintenance in proportion to their use, much like cars. Whirlpool-made dryers however, typically require the least amount maintenance, I believe because of superior design factors.

3. Repair Costs. They are the cheapest and easiest to repair. The cost of a replacement part runs from just under $2 to about $30. The average price to repair a Whirlpool dryer is less than $10. I’ve repaired hundreds of them. All of the repairs can be done within 15-30 minutes by someone reasonably handy. There are videos on YouTube that walk you through every repair.

Again, Whirlpool makes the following traditional dryers:
Kenmore (don’t buy the stackable Kenmore dryers, as they are made by Frigidaire)
Whirlpool
Roper
Estate
Inglis
Kirkland
Kitchen Aid
Whirlpool now owns Maytag and Amana as well, but only models a few years old. Be careful.

Why you shouldn’t buy other brands?

Because most of them are junk. They weren’t designed very well and they break down quicker. When they break down, they are much more expensive to fix and much more difficult to work on. Like I said in the How to Buy a Used Washing Machine post, most used appliance stores and repairmen just scrap the other brands.

Should you purchase a gas or electric dryer?

Right now natural gas is really cheap and if you already have a gas setup in your house, by all means use it. Gas dryers dry your clothes a little quicker than electric dryers as they produce more heat. Also, gas dryers are significantly cheaper than electric dryers on the used market, primarily because of less demand.

How much should you pay for a used dryer?

Expect to pay $50 to $150 for a used dryer. Dryer power cords can cost $20-$30, so save your old one if you are getting rid of it, or try to buy your dryer from someone that can give you the correct power cord for no extra charge.

What to watch out for when buying a used dryer

If you hear a whiny, screechy sound when the dryer is starting up, walk away. It’s the motor going out and that is one part that usually isn’t worth replacing, unless you repair appliances for a living. (even then, most repair places don’t swap motors out).

Don’t buy a dryer if the timer isn’t advancing. Timers, along with motors, usually aren’t worth replacing as they are very expensive.

It’s better to be able to see the dryer working before you purchase, if possible. This allows you to hear it operating, which will often reveal to you whether it needs any maintenance or not. Also, it shows that the previous owner was still able to use it themselves.

What if you can’t test the dryer out?

Take close notice of the person you are potentially buying from. Do they seem like they took care of it? Why are they selling it? Ask them if there are any issues with it at all and let them talk. In the end, you need to use your discernment and walk away if you don’t get a good feeling about the transaction. I always recommend trying to buy from the type of person you would have wanted to own the item before you.

Should you buy a dryer with a digital display?

Short answer, no. The digital control panels tend to break much more often than traditional non-digital panels. Maybe because of the constant vibrations and jostling that dryers receive, I don’t know. When they do go out, they are very expensive to repair.

Frequently Asked Questions (will update)

Where is the best place to buy dryer parts?
If you can wait a few days, then eBay. If you go to your local parts place and pay full retail, it will cost you 3-5 times more than you will find them on eBay.

What about preventative maintenance?
Clean your lint trap before each use. I recommend taking the back panel off your dryer every few years and vacuuming the lint, hair and dust from inside the dryer. You can also use an air compressor to blow everything out, making sure to blow out the heating element last. Also, after turning your dryer on, go check where the air exits the house and make sure the airflow is good and that there isn’t lint buildup at the exit. I’ve seen the exits completely clogged so that no air was able to escape. This will always cause destruction on the dryer as the dryer will overheat if the air is not able to vent properly.

What kind of vent ducting is best?
Solid ducting is better than the coiled ducting as it doesn’t clog up nearly as easily. Keep the distance for the air to make it outside as short as possible. The further the distance, the harder it is on the dryer to get all the moist air out of the dryer. If the distance is more than 12 feet, consider adding an in-line duct fan to assist in the removal of the air.

Where should the exhaust tubing exit the house?
The key here is that the air exits the house. Never exhaust a dryer inside a house as the moisture will only increase the chances of mold. Always vent out the side of the house if possible. Under the house only as a last resort, as it will just trap the moisture below the house, increasing the chance for mold to grow.

How many kinds of dryer power cords are there?
Four. Two different kinds of three prong, and two different kinds of four prong.
dryercords

What kind of power does a gas/electric dryer use?
Gas dryers use 110 volt, so it will just plug right into a regular wall outlet and run fine. It won’t heat unless you have the gas hooked up (obviously) and turned on, but you can at least hear it spin and blow air.

Electric dryers use 220 volt (except for the very rare, small 110v dryers) You will almost never see these, and I would not recommend buying one. They take forever to dry your clothes. You would be better off using a clothesline.

What about the really old Kenmore dryers?

Don’t buy the model that only has one button. I think they are about 25-30 years old. Anyway, the motors on those things go out at an alarming rate if they are still hanging on. Still, I see them quite a bit and it’s a testament to the build quality of those old things.

The old brown/black panel Kenmore dryers are incredible. They were overbuilt, and I presume they will last until the end of time. If you are fortunate enough to have one of these beauty’s, repair it until the motor itself dies on you. (Which I don’t believe I’ve seen yet for those model’s)

How long should you expect a dryer to last before it will need repairs?

This is impossible to answer. There are too many variables, including how many loads per day, how big the loads are, how well the washing machine is getting water out etc. Then, there is no odometer to know how many loads have been done prior to you getting the dryer. Learn how to do some basic repairs, and expect maintenance to be occasionally needed.

Is it worth it to pay for a warranty?

I don’t think so. Most guys that offer a warranty on Craigslist only offer one for 30 days etc, but the cost increase far outweighs the very small chance that something will actually go out within that short of a period of time. The same goes for a store. You will pay at least an extra $100 purchasing a used dryer from a store, and will get about a 6 month warranty. I don’t think it’s worth it.

How to transport a dryer?

Dryers weigh about 100 lbs and can be transported upright or on their side. Try not to slide them across concrete or pavement too much as it will just bend the little plastic feet. Also, don’t pick the dryer up by the control panel, it’s just held on by some little plastic clips and a few screws.

Also read –  How to Buy a Used Washing Machine and How I Earn My Living Buying and Selling Appliances on Craigslist

I’d love to hear your comments and please post any questions you may have below.

 

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71 Responses to “How to Buy a Used Dryer”

  1. Zach Says:

    Hey there, I have been reading your blog front to back and love it. I will be making a move into buying and selling soon as a second source of income.I have a couple questioned though. I know you focus mainly on appliances, so what is you take on dishwashers and refrigerators? Are they more trouble than they are worth? does it pay off to deal in them? And are they harder to fix? Keep I mind that I am pretty handy. Your take would be greatly appreciated. Thanks In advance.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Dishwashers seem to be more trouble for the amount of $ you can make on them. They are less expensive new, and most people have the store install them, as most homeowners don’t like hard wiring them, and plumbing them in. I think refrigerators are great item to buy and sell, but it’s going to be certain brands and you will want to learn how to repair them. Whatever you decide to do, try to focus on one appliance at a time and get really good at it before you go onto the next.

      Reply

      • Zach Says:

        Thank you! I made my first buys 2 days ago. I got a gas dryer (which is the more popular version where I live) for $30 and a matching stainless steel stove and microwave for $60. What a buy! I can’t wait until my next day off to clean and re-post them. Thank you for being a true inspiration!

        Reply

  2. Tyson Says:

    What type of washer/dryer have you choose for your own home ?

    Reply

  3. Sean Says:

    Hey,

    You have encouraged me to start doing what you are doing. In the last two days I have bought two refrigerators and made pretty good profit on them. I am suppose to go pick up two dryers tomorrow, an old maytag and decent kenmore. Is it okay to transport them on their sides?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Awesome! Dryers no problem, side is better. Refrigerators get a little more tricky. You can do it, just let them stand upright for a day before plugging them in. Have the person have the fridge plugged in and cold for you when you get there to ensure that it’s working properly. Well done, keep it up!

      Reply

  4. Leon Says:

    When you purchase a gas dryer, before you sell it, how do you test it? Do you hook it up to a gas line, or is there another trick that you use besides testing every component? You have been a great inspiration, not only for supporting my family financially and emotionally (as I can now be at home for them), but in life in general. We love to read your posts. Thank you so much!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Thanks Leon! I’m glad to help. We don’t sell as many gas dryers, but when we do, I have a gas dryer hookup in my garage that I can test them out with. Also, you can plug them into a regular 110 volt outlet and hear it tumble etc and will notice any obvious problems. If it was heating at the previous owners home, you can assume that it will work. Worst case scenario, if you don’t have gas to test it out on will be that you will have to refund your buyers money and take the dryer back if it doesn’t work.

      If you are going to sell many gas dryers, I would recommend getting the gas line for testing. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  5. John Says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the post. Just wondering if you only buy Whirlpool made stoves/ovens?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I really like GE stoves as well. I’m not quite as sure on their sub-brands such as Hotpoint, Frigidaire etc I will try to write a stove/oven buying guide at some point here.

      Reply

  6. Joe Says:

    Hi Ryan, I stumbled upon your blog page on google. Here is my question for you. My old Maytag Neptune front load washer is on it’s last leg. Apparently the bearings are going out and it has a hard time spinning when clothes are in the washer. I have been researching on what to buy for a good, dependable washing machine. Everyone tells me to stay away from the front load washers. They tell me to go with a top loader from Whirlpool, LG, or Maytag. They said stay away from GE, Samsung, and some others. I checked out the August 2013 issue of Consumer Reports and it rated front and top loader washing machines. The top 2 rated for top loaders were LG, WT1101CW and the Samsung, WA422PRHDWR/AA. I read a lot of reviews on both of these models and they go out of balance easy and on the Samsung people are complaining that the water pump fails and they get water everywhere. On the LG models, I saw that they use plastic mounts to hold the clothes drum in place, where as Samsung, Maytag, and Whirlpool use metal mounts. I heard that once those plastic mounts break on the LG, good luck! Your thoughts on the HE washer/Energy star? I am considering the Whirlpool WTW4800XQ or the Whirlpool WTW4880AW. I can get the first one at home depot for $374.99 and the second on for $519.99

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      If I had to buy new, I would buy a Whirlpool top loading washing machine. They work great, and when it needs maintenance, I’m going to be the one working on it. You can’t go wrong buying Whirlpool made washers. If you must buy another brand, go with the LG.

      Reply

  7. Fred Says:

    Ryan, my dryer is against a wall, the vent is hard piped, there is a 90 in the wall so the vent goes straight up to & thru the roof. I don’t like this setup but I don’t see an alternative, it is not against an outside wall, I would have to run it thru a bedroom to get to an outside wall. it doesn’t have any additional help (fan, etc) to get it up and out the roof, there is an additional 90 degree roof vent, its been this way since the house was built back in 1979, I have cleaned around the exhaust vent cap at the roof every 5 or 6 years or so. There is some build up at the two 90’s but not a complete clog yet. we clean the bottom 90 every time we pull the dryer out (for repair, etc) Any suggestions? I am concerened that the dryer is having to work too hard.

    Reply

  8. Susan Says:

    Ryan-

    Thank you so much for this great advice! I found your site by googling “are you better off buying a new appliance”? As a result, we were able to save a bundle buying a Whirlpool washer & dryer from craigslist with confidence.

    Thanks again!

    Susan

    Reply

  9. Dyke Miller Says:

    I need to move my Whirlpool Duet 120 miles in a station wagon. Can I place it on it’s back or side or should I rent a truck? Thank You in advance Dyke Miller Sedona, Az.

    Reply

  10. Esteban Says:

    What are your assessments of the speed queen dryers? Are the parts cheap and accessible?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      We really haven’t done much work on speed queen machines. I’ve heard they are pretty well made, but they are not very common to come across. My guess is that parts are going to be a good bit more expensive. You should always be able to find the parts online. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Reply

  11. Kara Says:

    Which Kenmore dryer do I want–one with the vent on the top of the unit or inside the door?

    Thanks, Ryan. You are why the Internet is awesome.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Thanks Kara! I would encourage you to go with the style with the lint trap on top. I think it’s a better designed machine.

      Reply

  12. andrea Says:

    Love your site! What is the best way to clean the inside of the dryer, specifically blue Jean dye?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      That blueish color that appears to have rubbed off from jeans is actually the undercoat of paint. As the dryer gets older, and the white paint gets worn down, it starts to expose the blue under paint. It’s a pretty good way of telling how much use a dryer has had. It’s just cosmetic, it won’t stain your clothes or anything.

      Reply

  13. jessica Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Can you please tell me if its safe to buy a washer/dryer that has been stored for 2 years?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Being in storage for the past few years is fine as long as you feel comfortable and can trust the person that is making the claim. Otherwise, people will often say their machines have been in storage and conveniently don’t know the current state of the machines. This is an issue because unfortunately most people aren’t very honest. So unless you are comfortable with the person that is making the claim, I wouldn’t buy out of storage unless you know how to work on the machines, as the likelihood of them needing work goes up even more.

      Reply

  14. Chris Says:

    Hey Ryan!
    Thanks a million for the great advice on both a washer and dryer purchases from Craigslist. Now that I know what I am looking for (Whirlpool) I also have a better understanding of why my current ones have been such a PIA over the last few years and seem to be self-destructing. For the sake of slander I will not give the brands, but they are in your naughty list.
    My question – Whirlpool Imperial series – any thoughts? I have read good and bad reviews. Most bad reviews are that they are noisy. Any help is most appreciated!
    I am also seriously looking at starting my own Craigslist business and will definitely be looking at your online courses. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I would have to see a picture of the machine. If you can hear the machine work before purchasing it that would be good, to make sure you would be ok with the amount of noise it gives off. Dryers will slowly get louder over time and as their felt wears down. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

      Reply

  15. Andrea Says:

    I know you are not a huge fan of the stacked washer & dryer combos the are made by fridgidire, but is there a brand/model that you do like. My place is small so my only option is a stacked washer dryer combo. The unit I have now takes forever to dry plus its the type that only does one function at a time, which means my wash days last forever. My place does have two heavy duty electrical outlets.

    Reply

  16. baranda Dixon Says:

    Hello I’m looking to purchase a gas stackable used what should I watch for

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Look for a Whirlpool made stackable all in one unit. They are easy to work on, and are just a good reliable machine.

      Reply

  17. cody Says:

    Ryan, I am an appliance dummy.
    I have a little bit of a bankroll to the point where I can start buying and re selling appliances as a full time job, like I said I am clueless on how to go about starting this. It seems like there are so many different brands and random numbers on every dryer and washer I come across.. what I was wondering is, is there anywhere I can go to learn about how much used washer and dryers of all brands cost? im on craigslist in my local area and am just so confused and lost on if I would be getting a good deal or not. any advice would help. thanks brotha!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Hey Cody, thanks for the question. I actually put together an entire course/ training videos and private forum over at ApplianceSchool.com to teach people how to get into the appliance business. One of the things I go over is which brands to buy, how much to pay for them, how much to sell them for etc etc. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Ryan

      Reply

  18. Amber Says:

    I’m trying to sell a gas dryer. It’s a Whirlpool traditional dryer and I’m having no luck. I have it posted at $150 (originally posted for $250) on several sites. It’s only a year and a half old with no problems whatsoever. My new place only has electric hookups so I don’t have a use for it anymore. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to sell it? Do I have it priced to high?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Gas dryers tend to take a bit longer to sell. $150 for a gas dryer in good shape is about right, but it can still take a few weeks at time to sell. I think gas appliances take longer to sell because people are a little more wary of buying a used gas appliance (fear of a gas related problem?) and there are more people with electric hookups (in general) than gas. It will sell, it’s just going to take a bit of time, and dropping the price even more probably won’t speed the process up. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  19. Blake Says:

    I have a Whirlpool Gold ultimate care II dryer that I am looking to sell. Everything works fine, but we are relocating to a hu one with natural gas. How much do you think this dryer is worth? It is about 7 years old.

    Reply

  20. Shane Says:

    Great article! Thanks for writing this!

    Reply

  21. Jeff Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I just stumbled upon your great website. A few days ago my Kenmore series 90 electric dryer no longer works when I push the start button. It’s 11 years old and I’m trying to decide whether to repair or bite the bullet and replace it with a comparable new one (amana) for $299 at the local Appliance Mart. Your thoughts on repair vs. replacement? Thanks in advance.

    Reply

  22. Jas Says:

    Hi I found a set on Craigslist for $100 good price however it’s made by GE. Would you not recommend it ?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I personally wouldn’t buy a GE set for $50, so….. If they are in fantastic shape and you can trust the buyers, you might be able to get a few years out of them before they break. Just remember, there is almost always a negative catalyst (reason) that causes people to get rid of their appliances, and they will often not tell you the full story.

      Reply

  23. Megan Says:

    Ryan-
    I love your posts! They are incredibly helpful and informative!
    My boyfriend and I need to get rid of one of our washer/dryer sets. His is a GE Profile set…4-5 years old. I have a whirlpool Ultimate Care II…about 8 years old. Both dryers are electric. Which would get the most money on craigslist and how much? Sounds like you prefer whirlpool as far as quality is concerned. Do you think my Whirlpool will outlast his GE?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Keep yours! Sell his. People like to buy newer, shinier appliances, even if they are junk. When it comes time to work on your whirlpool, they are very easy to work on and the parts are very cheap. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  24. Kyle Says:

    Hello again Ryan! I picked up a Whirlpool electric dyer yesterday but was unable to test it. It has a 4 prong cord, but my hookup in the garage is only for a 3 prong. Is there anywhere where I can buy an adapter so I can then test it out? I tried googling the same question I am asking you but couldn’t get a real response.

    Reply

    • Ryan Finlay Says:

      There is no adapter, you would have to make one yourself. You can buy a 4 prong wall mounted plug and snip off the ends of a spare 3 prong dryer cord, hard wire the snipped off end into the wall mounted 4 prong outlet, and plug the other end into your live outlet just when you need to test the machine. You can do this for the other 3 styles of power cords for testing. It will save a lot of time!

      Reply

  25. lori Says:

    Hi I just purchased a used Kenmore washer dryer set 90 series top loader.both work great
    I paid $225 for the set.did I get a good deal?

    Reply

  26. Jake Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I found your site yesterday and have read through quite a bit. I’ve done a little wheeling and dealing on Craigslist so I totally see how this could work well.

    I have a question about pricing, you said “Expect to pay $50 to $150 for a used dryer.” which I assume is what you are aiming to pay when you buy a dryer that needs some work? If so, then what is your target sale price?

    I’m sure model and condition are the variables, I’m just trying to understand how you determine market value of a particular unit when there are so many brands of various ages. I hope that makes sense!

    Thanks.

    Reply

    • Ryan Finlay Says:

      Hi Jake, I wrote this for regular consumers, and those prices tend to be the going rate for machines on Craigslist. On the higher end is what someone should expect to pay for a machine that has been refurbished.

      People’s knowledge of appliances is fairly low, and good information about purchasing used appliances isn’t that easy for people to find (which is why I wrote this post) That said, most people purchase based on looks and color of the appliance and going rate depends on that particular market.

      Reply

  27. Lisa Says:

    Thanks so much for this guide! What do you think about purchasing a dealer from owner versus by dealer? Are those close out prices legitimate? Would it be in better condition from a dealer versus an owner?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Ryan Finlay Says:

      Dealer is going to be a safer bet than owner, as owners rarely ever do maintenance on their machines. There are often issues with machines you buy from owners, and unless you really know how to inspect it can be more risky. You will pay a bit more for a machine from a dealer, but you do tend to get a warranty.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply

  28. Karen Rodhe Says:

    Hi Ryan,
    I just bought a Kenmore 70 series electric dryer for 150.00. The cord does need swapped out but the dealer will give us the cord at no cost. It looks great, runs great, and came with a 30 day guarantee and 90 day on parts. I thought this was a good deal because I know from my father that these dryers last a long long time. However, my husband, is NOT happy that I purchased a dryer that is 18 years old. He wants to return it but I think our luck with it would be far greater than with a newer one. Cost was an issue for us so buying brand new is not an option at this time. Can you give me your feedback on this purchase?

    Reply

    • Ryan Finlay Says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for the question. If that dryer is running great, and it sounds good as well (which indicates it has a good rear felt) then it could be good to go for years. A new dryer needs just as much maintenance (every 3-6 years usually) as a used dryer, except it’s going to be 3-8 times more expensive. I don’t think it’s worth buying new appliances, especially if one cannot afford to. That said, you and your husband need to be on the same page so that there isn’t finger pointing WHEN something happens either with this used dryer, or a new dryer if you end up taking it back.

      Check out today’s post and one way or another make sure you make sure it’s venting properly! http://recraigslist.com/2014/10/prevent-dryer-catching-fire/

      Reply

  29. Signora parks Says:

    My dryer went out and it’s blowing out cold air. What could the problem be?( kenmore with black and brown panel)

    Reply

  30. Shea Says:

    I am looking at a really old Kenmore dryer with the brown/black panel, but it has one button that you push to start and one knob to change the cycle. The washer that I already have has the same brown/black panel, and when I called Kenmore, they told me that it was made in 1987. So, assuming the dryer is about the same age, with one knob and one button, would this be one you recommend buying? I don’t want to buy it if it is one of the models that you are seeing the motors go out on a lot.
    Thanks!

    Reply

  31. Jeff Says:

    I have a dryer that was fine went I put it in storage but it has been about five years. Would the cold of my garage break it down in time or do you think it may last awhile? It had very little use and was a common brand. Thanks

    Reply

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