Repair a Toaster

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Introduction: Repair a Toaster

Have you paid extra to get a good quality toaster, only to have it fail after two years?

We'll show you the typical steps for getting that layabout appliance back in action!

This Instructable documents a common request at the monthly YuKonstruct "Repair Cafe".

Step 1: Tools and Project Preparation

You will need:

  • a toaster that is currently under performing for some reason
  • a selection of screwdrivers
  • a tray to hold screws so they don't get misplaced (e.g. a jar lid)
  • a pocket knife (or a scrap of sandpaper for cleaning crud off electrical contacts)
  • cleaning solution (like a spray can of "Electrical Contact Cleaner", obtained from your local hardware store or automotive parts house)

Before disassembling it, clean the crumbs out of the (unplugged) toaster as well as you can.

Step 2: Remove the Cover / Housing

After unplugging the toaster and shaking out the crumbs, turn it upside down (preferably on a counter where you can easily clean up the additional crumbs that are going to fall out very shortly).

Remove the screws on the underside of the toaster chassis. Note that there may be little tabs that hook the housing onto the chassis - every toaster is different. In any case, be patient and work methodically to avoid cracking or scratching the housing.

Handles on the toast carriers and darkness control knobs will have to be removed. (Usually they just slide off, but in this case there were little plastic catches that had to be pried away first.)

In this case there were connectors on two ribbon cables running from the chassis to electronic button controls on the top of the housing. The connectors had to be disconnected before the chassis could be lifted free of the housing.

Step 3: Clean the Inside of the Toaster

Now that the cover is off, you will see there are a lot more crumbs to be removed!

Shake, scrape, and brush out all the crumbs you can - you never know how they could be interfering with the toaster operation.

Step 4: Examine Electrical Contacts and Clean Them

This toaster would not toast because one of the bread carriers would not stay down while the bread was toasting.

If it starts to toast when you force the carrier handle down and hold it down, then it may be that the electromagnet surfaces are dirty, (and when they are dirty, they are not strong enough to hold the bread carrier down).

If the heating elements don't come on even when you hold it down the handle, it may be that the springy electrical contacts are dirty, (and when they are dirty they can't pass electrical current to the electromagnet and the heating elements).

Either way, once the housing is off, now is a great time to scrape clean the surfaces of the electromagnets (and the metal plates they mate to on the bread carriers) and then spray them with Electrical Contact Cleaner (as shown in the first three photos).

Also, you should now clean the springy copper electrical contacts (as shown in the last three photos) that are activated when the bread carrier handle is forced down (and that, when activated, pass electrical current to the electromagnet. I used a pocket knife to carefully scrape the contacts and sprayed Electrical Contact Cleaner to remove any residue.

Step 5: Preliminary Testing

This toaster had to have the housing back on before it could be toasted, because there are electronic controls on the top surface.

We reconnected the ribbon cables and then worked the housing down and turned the toaster right side up.

We plugged it in, pushed down the bread carrier handles... and voilà she works!

Step 6: Finish the Reassembly and Final Testing

Unplug the toaster and turn it upside down again, and reinstall the screws holding the housing onto the chassis.

Put the handles and knobs back in place, replace the crumb carriers, etc.

Plug it in again and test to make sure the ribbon cables etc. are still working properly - and you are back in business!

Give yourself a pat on the back!

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    14 Comments

    0
    Annette
    Annette

    Question 10 months ago

    Hi I have cleaned all the contact points, cleaned the crumbs and the toaster still won’t stay down. The elements are working when I hold it down but It is sparking at the electromagnet arms when I release it to pop up? Is that fixable or is it beyond repair? Thanks

    0
    gpiwowar
    gpiwowar

    Answer 10 months ago

    Hi Annette,
    (Sorry for the delay, but I just got notified of your message.)
    I am surprised to hear there is sparking at the electromagnet...

    If the sparks really are AT the electromagnet, it might mean the wiring around the electromagnet arms is faulty (unrepairable).
    If the sparks are from the spring contacts, and just NEAR the electromagnet, that might be normal, in which case I would try again to scrape clean the arms of the electromagnet and the metal plate they mate to.

    I'd be interested to hear how it turns out - Good luck!

    0
    Annette
    Annette

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thanks for your reply. I had a look again and think the spark is from the contact points when the lever is pushed down. I cleaned them but think it’s a lost cause now unfortunately. If you have a suggestion I’d be happy to hear your thoughts. Thanks again.

    0
    gpiwowar
    gpiwowar

    Reply 10 months ago

    You can see from the comments of djpauw below, that sometimes it is worth trying again to clean the surfaces of the electromagnets that need to mate with the metal plate in order to hold the toast down. (A bit of sparking from the electrical contacts is not that serious as long as there are no flammable fumes around.)

    0
    Annette
    Annette

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thanks , I’ll give it another go. Thanks again.

    0
    Paytrie
    Paytrie

    1 year ago on Step 2

    Hi gpiwowar. I was wondering how you took off the levers and the connects? Don’t want to break it

    0
    gpiwowar
    gpiwowar

    Reply 10 months ago

    Hi Paytrie,
    Sorry for the delay, but I just noticed your question.
    The levers/knobs usually "just" slide off because usually they are held on by friction alone. However, it may take some real force to remove. If you use a tool to provide some leverage, be careful not to scratch the housing or cause other cosmetic damage. (Try a wooden spoon!)
    If something does break - you may have to glue it back together at the end! (Use a cyanoacrylate-type "super glue" - sometimes the "gel" kind give better results with plastic.) Good luck!

    0
    djpauw
    djpauw

    Question 1 year ago

    Fixed our toaster. It’s as good as new and I feel like Superman! We live close to the ocean and there was a good amount of corrosion on the top of the electromagnet and the opposing metal plate. I scrape off as much as I could and tried it and the lever would hold so, so. So I took it apart again, spayed a little WD-40 this time and scraped those parts until they shined. That did the trick.

    0
    gpiwowar
    gpiwowar

    Answer 1 year ago

    It’s really rewarding to hear that story!
    I think we could all use a little more of that feeling- of regaining some mastery over the technology in our lives!
    All the best of the season to you and your family.
    May we all leave 2020 with a little more wisdom, and hopes for a resilient New Year.
    (eg If the repair doesn't work the first time, take another kick at it!)
    Cheers,
    Glenn in Whitehorse

    PS At our most recent Repair Cafe event, we took apart a toaster because only half the elements were working..... and then we understood what the "Bagel" setting was for... (It was news to me!)

    0
    gralan
    gralan

    3 years ago

    I've gotten rid of toasters for lack of the gumption to mess with it. I now have a rare toaster oven that needs attention, and I will take courage from your great instructable. Thanks for posting this.

    _ga-

    0
    kukopia
    kukopia

    4 years ago

    Determining how it's not working needs to be step 1.

    0
    ET60
    ET60

    6 years ago

    A good descriptive "how to" with one missing item. At times it is the heating element that is burned out and not lighting. If the element area is made available often 1 turn can be unwound at the broken location so the two ends can then be tied into a knot. Cut off the excess element material & reassemble the unit. When turned on the know will glow white hot for a short time, weld itself, & then continue to work. The element is simple resistance wire that can, at times, be found in some older electronic/electrical stores.

    0
    floyd55
    floyd55

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I retrieved my toaster out of the trash and fixed it! I really just cleaned it up and put it back together and it worked! Yay!

    0
    gpiwowar
    gpiwowar

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Now that's what I call a "Success Story" - thank you for sharing it!