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8 Reasons Why Your Toaster Burns Everything

A toaster is probably one of the smallest appliances in your kitchen and has a pretty simple job. Even then, toasters are capable of great catastrophe: burnt food. There are many reasons why your toaster burns everything, and some may not even be the appliance’s fault!  

Here are 8 reasons why your toaster burns everything:

  1. Faulty thermostat
  2. Defective solenoid
  3. Jammed latch/lever
  4. Malfunctioning timer
  5. Residual/excess heat
  6. Unclean crumb tray
  7. Inaccurate settings
  8. Circuit board issues

Like all kitchen appliances, toasters have devolved over the years, and different brands and their models don’t have identical features and components. However, most toasters function similarly. Keep reading to learn about the most likely reasons why your toaster burns everything.  

1. Faulty Thermostat

Conventional toasters have a bimetallic thermostat. This sensor is simply two strips of metal that bend and disrupt or open the circuit when your toaster is sufficiently hot, depending on your setting. If this thermostat is faulty or doesn’t work perfectly, your toaster will burn everything.

Suppose you have one of the standard pop up toasters with a control knob. When you turn the dial on such toasters, you are effectively regulating the bimetallic switch. The higher setting you choose, the longer this bimetallic switch takes to bend away from the contact to open the circuit.   

This causes a toaster to run longer than it should, generating more heat and burning your bread. If the bimetallic switch or thermostat can be recalibrated, you can get your toaster to work fine again. However, such a remedy depends on the toaster and the type of thermostat in it.

Check the manual to find out if there’s a screw inside the control knob that you can use to fix the calibration issue. Usually, turning the screw anticlockwise or towards the lower heat setting can recalibrate a bimetallic switch. Some toasters may have this feature on the thermostat. 

That said, you may have to replace a thermostat if it is beyond recalibration. Also, new toasters often have a thermocouple or other types of thermostats instead of a bimetallic switch. You have to check if there’s a reset feature or any way to recalibrate it. 

2. Defective Solenoid

Most toasters have a solenoid or electromagnet to regulate the locking mechanism. Typically, all pop up toasters have a solenoid. The solenoid is activated when you lower the handle or lever, thus creating an electromagnetic lock. The solenoid doesn’t deactivate until the thermostat disrupts the circuit.  

However, a defective solenoid may not immediately release the handle or lever when the toaster is done. Thus, the bread slices spend more time inside a hot toaster and get burned. A solenoid is usually irreparable, so you need a new one. But you should rule out the other causes first.

3. Jammed Latch/Lever

A delayed release of the handle or lever may or may not be a solenoid’s fault or the thermostat. If the latch or lever is jammed, it may not release as efficiently and timely as expected. So, you have to visually inspect the lever, latch, locking mechanism, etc.

Manually testing the handle to assess how smoothly it goes down and comes up may not imply that there’s a problem with the latch release. You need to take apart the toaster’s case and inspect the latch release parts for obstructions. You should also ensure that the handle lifts all the way to its normal position. 

4. Malfunctioning Timer

Most of the older and inexpensive toasters don’t have a timer. There’s a misconception among a significant section of toaster users that the numbers on or around the dial or control knob imply minutes. These numbers are different levels of regulating the toaster’s heat, not a timer.

However, some of the newest toasters and (definitely the expensive ones!) have a timer. If this timer doesn’t function perfectly, your toaster won’t stop when you want it to. 

So, if your toaster has a timer that you can regulate, choose a minute less than your regular setting. Check if the toaster burns everything even then. This test is similar to how you would recalibrate a bimetallic switch. Basically, you have to account for and then negate the margin of error. 

5. Residual/Excess Heat

A toaster can have residual or excess heat when you use it continuously for several bread slices or bagels. If you use the same mode or setting for every new cycle, the residual heat may burn your slices. 

A toaster in continuous use doesn’t take as long to heat as it needs initially when it is at room temperature. You may also inadvertently cause the same effect if you reset a cycle. 

Suppose a slice doesn’t turn out the way you like, and you restart the toaster in the same mode or previous heat setting. The toaster already has residual heat and the bread is already partially done. Hence, the slices may burn as they undergo another full cycle. 

6. Unclean Crumb Tray

An unclean crumb tray can cause heat buildup inside a toaster. Also, a lot of crumbs in the tray can cause a fire. Thus, you should routinely check if the crumb tray is clean. Ideally, you should empty the tray sooner rather than later and clean it periodically, depending on the frequency of use.

7. Inaccurate Settings

Check the browning setting if your toaster has this feature. Dialing up the browning setting can burn your toast. Likewise, you should use the right settings for every type of bread, not only its composition but also the size, condition, etc.

For instance, you should not toast warm or soft bread at a high setting. Similarly, old and dry bread requires a lower setting. A thinner slice doesn’t need the high heat that a thicker cut demands. So, every setting you choose must suit the bread type, size, and condition.

Generally, fresh and dense pieces of bread take a little longer to brown. But if your toaster is already hot, you must also adjust the setting accordingly. Every user has to figure out the ideal settings for a particular toaster and specifically for each different type of bread. 

8. Circuit Board Issues

Last but not least, you may have an issue with the circuit board. Toaster circuit boards aren’t complicated. However, they still have capacitors, resistors, transistors, etc. New toasters can have different types of integrated circuit chips on the main board. Any of these parts could fail at any time for a variety of reasons.

Suppose a capacitor on your toaster circuit board doesn’t disrupt the power supply by opening the circuit at the right time. In that case, your toaster will continue to run even when the bread is already done and burn everything. So, you’ll have to repair or replace the toaster circuit board to prevent burnt toast. 


  • Chris Hewitt

    Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.

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