What to Do When Your Toaster Doesn’t Work

A toaster is a ubiquitous fixture in most kitchens. Given its low cost and dependability, people generally consider toasters to be staple appliances. Basic models begin at about £10 and become pricier as features and capacity grow. Since they’re relatively affordable, when problems occur with a toaster, most owners choose to simply replace the defective piece. Yet, this can be hasty as most common issues have simple fixes.

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What Precautions Should You Take Before Starting Toaster Repairs?

Because the toaster is an electrical appliance, it is necessary to unplug the machine before you begin working with it. Make sure your toaster is completely cool before working with it. Additionally, if you’re uncomfortable tinkering with electronics (as many rightly are), it may be worthwhile to take the small loss and purchase a new machine.

If crumbs are routinely collecting on the bottom and burning, the solution is as simple as unplugging the machine and emptying out the main chamber. Most toasters are outfitted with a pull-out tray that lets crumbs fall out of the machine, since this can create quite a mess, be sure to have a rubbish bin or plate underneath. It is important to do this regularly because fallen food particles can cause malfunctions in the toaster. Fallen food can prevent the normal movement of the carriage, short out the elements that heat the bread, cause the solenoid to dysfunction, and keep the latch release from working.

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How Does The Toaster Work?

Before attempting to fix your toaster, it may be helpful to learn the basics of how a toaster works. When you know the mechanism at play, you’ll be better able to troubleshoot the problem. The carriage is a metallic receptacle for the bread, it lowers and raises the bread. When the lever is lowered and the carriage latches into place, a switch automatically begins heating the bread (or other food item). Based on the manually determined thermostat setting, when the necessary time has passed, the solenoid shuts off the current that activates the heating element. The carriage is unlatched and rises up for easy extraction.

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What Common Issues Occur With Toasters?

If the lever will move the carriage up and down but won’t latch or is difficult to latch in place, check the latch and slide rod. The below short video features a detailed repair of this problem. If either of these parts is damaged, ordering a replacement part may be necessary. You should also clear any visible obstructions at this time.

The toaster normally toasts bread for a specified time, to the desired brownness, and then automatically pops the toast upward and turns off the heating function. The toaster “knows” when to stop with the help of a thermostat. When the thermostat settings are faulty, it can prevent the toaster from stopping at the appropriate time, thus burning the bread inside. Bread that toasts either too much or too little may also signal a problem with the thermostat. If you are able to recalibrate the thermostat, attempt that first. To do this, begin by cleaning the toaster and removing any stuck food debris. With the crumb door open, look for a calibration knob or screw. Adjusting the bracket back and forth will change the duration of the toasting time. If the thermostat doesn’t work after this adjustment, you may have to either replace it or the toaster.

You may also want to check the solenoid and solenoid switch. The job of the solenoid is to release the latch when triggered by the thermostat. This prevents burning. The solenoid is usually found near the latch. To access it, you must remove the shell of the toaster. You can test the functioning of the solenoid with a continuity tester. When a solenoid is secured with rivets, instead of screws, it may be prohibitively difficult to remove it, in which case replacement may be a better option.

When Is It Time To Buy A Replacement Toaster?

Many people would opt to forego repairing a machine when it can be replaced with a brand new one at very little cost. Unless already adept at fixing appliances, one may shy away from the task of repairing a toaster. This is certainly the case with toasters. However, when you choose to replace your toaster, consider paying a bit more for a well-built, high-functioning toaster. A cheap toaster may cost you less initially, but having to replace/repair it periodically will be costlier than purchasing a quality appliance outright.

READ NEXT: The interesting history of the toaster.