Introduction: Keep Your Dryer Quiet
Here is a larger-scale variation on my Silence Of The Toys. We own a 10+ year old GE Profile clothes dryer, with an extraordinarily loud buzzer. We also have a six month old daughter who takes two or three naps throughout the day, every couple of hours. This is a bad combination.
I could have just gone in and cut the lead to the buzzer, but I wanted to have control over whether the buzzer goes off or not, without needing a screwdriver and several minutes to change things.
Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed
To install a mute switch, you need a switch. I chose a simple white wall light-switch (69 cents at Ace Hardware), but you could use whatever you have at hand. You will need two #4 lock washers, and #4-40 hex nuts to secure the switch to the control panel.
A few of feet of 18-gauge or larger wire will connect the switch to the buzzer (the wire runs are longer than you'd think). An old lamp or extension cord is most convenient, since the two conductors are already joined.
For the wire ends that connect to the buzzer, you will need one male and one female crimp-on spade lug. A true male spade is hard to find, but the U-shaped screw lugs fit perfectly in the female crimp-on.
Our GE Profile uses T20 Torx screws, so I got to go buy a set of Torx bits to remove the control panel from the dryer.
To cut out a hole in the control panel to fit the switch, I used a Dremel tool with metal-cutting disks (and a 1/8" drill bit for the screw holes). If you own a pair, you could also use sheet-metal nippers to make cleaner edges.
Step 2: Remove the Control Panel
Unplug The Dryer!Even if you have the dryer turned off, the leads on the controls are still energized. You can get an unpleasant shock while you are working on things. Opening up and working on wall-powered electrical equipment that is still plugged in is stupid and potentially dangerous.
The control panel is attached to the main dryer body with four T20 Torx screws across the top. Remove these, and the panel hinges down. The hinges themselves are just tab-and-slot, so you can remove the whole panel from the upright fixture. The grounding wire is pretty short, so unscrew it from the bottom of the panel.
You should find a troubleshooting guide and schematic for the dryer clipped onto the inside of the upright fixture. This will help you to identify the components and wire colors on your dryer, if they don't match what I'm describing here.
The buzzer (called "EOC," for End-Of-Cycle, on the schematic) is the small box with a red and black lead, and no corresponding switch or control on the outside of the panel.
Step 3: Mark the Switch Position
Choose a location to mount the switch. I put it at the far left end of the panel, next to the Start knob. You could choose to mount it between the buzzer and timer control, but then you'll have the wiring harness in the way while cutting.
The panel is built from two layers of sheet metal with a 1/4" or so gap between them. On the inside, you will need to cut a large rectangular slot big enough for the whole light-switch body to fit. On the outside panel, you will cut a smaller hole, just big enough for the switch itself to poke through; and you'll drill two 1/8" clearance holes for the screws.
Break off the "ears" at the ends of the light switch, to make it a bit more compact for installation. Draw a template of the switch on paper (or print out the PDF file below), marking the locations of the screws and the plastic switch itself. Put down masking or painters tape on the inside metal sheet, and transfer the outline of the switch, and the screw positions, from your template.
Note: I started preparing this Instructable after I had already completed everything through Step 5, so I do not have any "before" photos showing the marked out positions, or the intermediate cutting stages.
Step 4: Cut and Drill for the Switch
Drill the screw holes (carefully) all the way through both layers of sheet metal at the points marked from your template. You'll be cutting away the holes you just drilled on the inside panel, but this gives you an automatic transfer of the template to the outside of the panel.
Cover the rest of the panel with a sheet of plastic (like a trash bag). Getting little pieces of metal grit onto all of the electrical connections is asking for trouble. I also taped a trash bag around the end of the panel where I was cutting, and tried to do all of my work inside the bag, to reduce the mess.
SAFETY NOTEAlways wear glasses of some kind (whether your own or plastic safety goggles) when you are cutting metal with a Dremel tool. There will be sparks and metal grit thrown off from the cut, and the cutting disk will usually shatter once it's worn down to about half size.
Use the cutting disk to remove the rectangular slot you have drawn. As I noted above, this will eliminate the holes you drilled, but the holes on the outside metal sheet below allow you to align your template to mark the next set of cuts.
Clean off the second metal sheet with a damp paper towel (or a sponge you don't ever intend to use in your kitchen). Put down a piece of tape and mark the position of the small switch cutout using your template. Remove this cutout with the Dremel as before.
Step 5: Install the Switch
Remove the screws and the little retaining tabs from the ends of the switch. Push them back through the holes in the control panel from the outside, and slip the retaining tabs back onto them on the inside, running them all the way down. Put the switch onto the two screws, followed by the lock washers and nuts.
SAFETY NOTEOn our dryer, all of the switch's terminal screws (the two on one side and the ground opposite) are clear of the inside metal sheet by about 1/8" to 3/16" inch. If your dryer's control panel is built differently, or if you are using a different model of switch, inspect all three terminal screws carefully. If they are in contact with the metal panel, or closer than 1/16", then you have a potential electrical hazard. Move the switch out of the way, and wrap a couple of layers of electrical tape across the edges of the cutout.
Step 6: Prepare and Attach the Leads to the Switch
If you are using solid wire, strip about 1/2" off the same end of each of the two conductors, and push the wire into the small holes on the back of the switch.
If you are using stranded wire (as I am), strip about 1" off the ends, twist the wire around and wrap each one around one of the two terminals on the side of the switch.
Cut the wire to length to reach the EOC buzzer in the middle of the panel, with a few inches of slack. Strip about 1/2" from the wire ends, and crimp the female spade lug to one wire, and the male spade lug to the other.
If you want to ground the switch, use 6 to 8" of green insulated wire. Strip 1" off one end and attach it to the grounding screw on the switch. Strip 1/2" off the other end and crimp on a ring lug.
Step 7: Patch the Buzzer Through the Switch
Pull the black lead off of the EOC buzzer. Connect it to the male spade lug on your wire and wrap with electrical tape to prevent shorting.
Connect the female lug on the other wire to the EOC buzzer.
Attach the dryer's ground lead back where it was on the inside of the control panel. If you decided to ground the switch, put your new lead with its ring terminal on the same screw.
Step 8: Verify Functionality
Insert the hinge tabs back into their slots and close up the control panel. Make sure you don't pinch any of the wires around the edges while you're doing this. Insert the four Torx screws on the top and thread them in by hand.
Plug the dryer back into the wall (you did unplug it before Step2, right?). Set the timer to at least two minutes before the end of the cycle. To save some energy, set the temperature selector to "cool," or "fluff," or "no heat". Make sure that your new switch is set to ON, and start the dryer running. When the dryer stops, the buzzer should go off normally.
Stop the dryer, and set the timer again to at least two minutes. Now turn your mute switch OFF, and start the dryer. When it stops, you shouldn't hear anything (woo hoo!).
If everything worked as expected, tighted down the screws on the control panel. Congratulations!
If the dryer won't start, or if the buzzer goes off anyway, you'll need to do some troubleshooting, both of your own connections and perhaps using the schematic to figure out whether you've disconnected the wrong thing.
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Please be positive and constructive.