One of the silver linings to the house fire and restoration is that the insurance paid for all new kitchen appliances. My washer and dryer, though, were reportedly in working condition after being taken apart, cleaned, and put back together. After about a week in the house, the laundry had piled up enough for me to try them out. The washer seemed to work fine, but when I tried drying my clothes, it took two cycles and they were still damp. I didn’t worry about it then. I figured the dryer needed some time to readjust to a working life. Not exactly a rational thought, but I was so busy unpacking and organizing that I didn’t dwell on it. By the third and fourth loads of laundry, I started getting fed up. I contacted Mark the contractor that the dryer wasn’t working well. No problem. He’d send an appliance repair person the next day.
The next day Mark calls and said he spoke to Bruce the insurance guy. Bruce said it wasn’t cost efficient to repair and I should just get a new one instead. Woo hoo! I met up with Mark at Lowe’s, where he gets the contractors’ discount. My current non-drying dryer is gas, but after discussing it with Mark, I decided on an electric one so I could take it with me when I moved (again). Some houses, especially older ones, don’t have gas hook ups. If the insurance was going to buy me a new dryer, I sure wanted to take it with me. Come Sunday, the delivery-installation men show up. We aren’t supposed to mess about with gas dryers, they told me. We’re not licensed plumbers. Grrr. I text Mark, who is annoyed because the salesman said it wouldn’t be a problem. The delivery-installation men work out a compromise and Mark will finish the job Monday. The dryer is working, though, so I throw in some clothes I had washed. One cycle later, they’re damp. Another cycle later, still damp. Uh oh. I run outside to check the dryer vent. No hot air. In fact, no air movement whatsoever. I text Mark that maybe the issue is the vent that leads outside the house. Mark says he’ll check in the morning.
I head to work wondering if we got rid of a perfectly good, though old, dryer for no reason. I joke with Mark that he can test the dryer by throwing in my wet linens. Two hours later I hear from him: Sheets are drying. Found some bird nest in the pipe. He sends me a photo of a huge bird nest (no birds present), now resting on top of the AC unit. Flashback to March: I’m out shopping with my daughter during her college spring break when my son calls and says a bird is flying around in the living room. He eventually guides it outside, keeping the dogs at bay. Later we discover a rip in the foil dryer vent, but we can’t figure out how a bird ever got into it. There must be some piping from under the house or something; the outside vent screen is too small for any creature. Wait until my son hears this, I text Mark. Do I still get to keep the new dryer? Yes, I know nothing. You’re the best! I tell him. Another story for the blog, he responds. Yes, indeed, I think, wondering if he’s read any of the posts. Did the sheets dry? he asks. Yep, thanks! I hadn’t really expected him to stick the wet laundry into the dryer, but he’s a family man and probably didn’t think twice about it. I show the photo of the bird nest to some people at work. That can cause fires, they tell me. It didn’t cause mine, but I add it to my mental ‘to-do’ list in my post-fire life: Have dryer pipes and vents checked regularly.