Don't touch that dryer!

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Sep 25, 2012

I just moved everything from my former house in Massachusetts back to Maine.

Boxes and boxes of kitchen items, clothes, CDs, books, computer and electrical paraphernalia — if you've ever moved, you know the drill. And then there was the furniture, the bedding, the outdoor equipment (leaf blower, hammock, rakes, snow shovels) and the appliances. I'd bought a new washer and dryer last year when I moved into the house, and now I was moving them to Maine, where our washer and dryer were several years older.

Amazingly enough, it all went pretty well. The stuff fit into the truck with room to spare, the helpers hired to load and unload my cherished possessions were prompt and efficient, nothing got broken or lost.

The guys who unloaded the truck even moved the old dryer out of the way so the new one could be hooked up. But in the process of moving it, they pulled the tubing that vents the dryer to the outside off the little piece of pipe that actually goes through the outside wall.

So Monday night Maureen and I went downstairs to re-connect the tubing. We stood there looking up, past the homemade wooden shelf hanging over the washer and dryer, around the large tubing for the radon mitigation fan and the pipes hanging down from the basement ceiling, beyond the cobwebs and other dreck, to the little section of pipe in the wall that the tubing had to connect to. We considered the situation.

Since neither of us is very tall, there was no way we could reach the pipe from the floor. We tried a step stool, but no go. We fetched the big ladder from the garage.

Still, reaching over the shelf and the radon-fan tubing was a long stretch for short people. Plus, we couldn't just fit the dryer tubing inside the pipe because they were exactly the same size. We would have to duct-tape them together, which would call for more dexterity than your average short, middle-aged woman on a ladder has when she's leaning so far over she has to put one hand on the wall to support herself.

Ever the executive, Maureen decided we should move the laundry soap and other stuff off the hanging shelf. Then she got up on the ladder. "Hand me the hammer," she said. I did, little suspecting what came next. My beloved started wailing on the right end of the shelf and before I could think to get my hands under it, down it came — wham! — chipping the paint on the edge of the dryer. Needless to say, I was ready for the left end when that, too, fell to the hammer.

Well, that was one obstacle out of the way.

Next, we moved the appliances apart enough to get the ladder between them, and now, when we got on it, we were a good bit closer to the pipe than before. Maureen went up the ladder backwards, so that when she faced the wall she had nothing to hold onto. And, lo and behold! With considerable pain to her lower extremities (and considerable yelling at me to hurry up cutting the strips of duct tape), she taped the tubing to the pipe!

We proceeded to attach an elbow pipe to the back of the dryer and then the bottom of the tubing to the elbow, holding our breath lest the top of the tubing come off the pipe. Which it did.

Having learned our lesson, we secured everything else first. Then it was my turn to re-tape the tube to the pipe. I polished that off, and we moved the dryer back into place.

As if on cue, the top end of the tube came off the pipe again, clearly indicating that it was time to call a halt for the night and rejoin the battle the next day.

I will draw a veil over most of our exertions of the following evening. Let's just say that, after a good bit more trial and a lot more error, we eventually got the tubing connected to the pipe and the dryer back in its proper place.

Reveling in our home-repair triumph, we shared an exuberant high-five and turned to plug the dryer in for a test run. Only to find that it had a three-pronged plug and we had four-holed outlet.

The moral of this story might be "sometimes it's better to call an electrician first," but if we had, we would have missed facing and (mostly) solving a domestic problem together. It's shared suffering that binds us, after all.

The moral I prefer is, "Persistence and duct tape will solve most home-repair problems. A hammer also helps."

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