October 31, 2014

Recall: Toaster Oven/Broilers by Haier America Due to Burn or Electrical Shock Hazard

Name of Product: Toaster Oven/Broilers

Units: About 106,000

Importer: Haier America Trading L.L.C., of New York, N.Y.

Manufacturer: Lun Dar Electric Ind. Ltd., of Taiwan

Hazard: Electrical connections in the toaster oven/broilers can become loose, posing electrical shock and burn hazards.

Incidents/Injuries: Haier America has received two reports of minor burns and one report of a minor electrical shock to consumers, and one report of minor property damage.

Description: This recall involves toaster oven/broilers with model number RTO1400SS. The units are stainless steel and black plastic. “Haier” is printed on the front and the model number is printed on a label on the back of the toaster oven/broilers.

Sold at: Mass merchandisers and specialty retailers nationwide from September 2006 through January 2009 for approximately $20 to $40.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled toaster oven/broilers and contact Haier America to receive a free replacement toaster oven/broiler.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Haier America at (866) 927-4810 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.haieramerica.com


Repairing a Toaster or Toaster Oven

If you haven’t read our article on How Toasters and Toaster Ovens Work, you might want to do that before you start any repairs. If you feel ready to tackle a smallish job like this, then read on…

How to Repair a Toaster

In many homes, toasters malfunction more than any other small appliance. There are two reasons for this. First, toasters are typically built economically to be a throw-away appliance. Replacement models start at $10.

Second, malfunctions are frequently not the fault of the toaster itself but of food particles that interfere with its operation. Excess pieces of bread broken off by carriage movement fall into the base of the toaster and accumulate, obstructing carriage movement, shorting out heating elements, plugging the latch release, and interfering with solenoid operation.

That’s why most pop-up toasters have a large crumb tray and door at the bottom of the toaster. By sliding or unlatching this crumb door you can release food particles trapped in the bottom of the toaster.

For a toaster that is used daily, this should be done once a week. Simply unplug the toaster, hold it over a trash container, and unlatch the door. Once the primary food particles have fallen out, move the toaster around to release other particles that may be trapped at the edges. Periodically clean out the toaster using a can of compressed air, making sure you don’t damage sensitive heating elements or switches.

How to Repair a Toaster Oven

Toaster ovens operate much like toasters. However, a toaster oven is more complex and is typically more expensive to purchase. The higher cost means that repairs are easier to justify. You will probably think twice before tossing a $75 toaster oven into the recycle bin. And because toaster ovens are less compact, they are often easier to work on than pop-up toasters.

Some toaster ovens simply toast bread and related food products horizontally rather than vertically as with pop-up toasters. Other toaster ovens are actually miniature ovens. The differences are identified by the wattage used — broilers require more watts of electrical power to operate — and by the controls. Some toaster ovens allow you to bake and broil foods, offering precise temperature and function control.

Typical toaster oven repairs include servicing the main switch, the thermal fuse, the heating element, and the solenoid.Servicing the Main Switch: The toaster oven’s main switch is an important operating part, one that gets extensive use and is a frequent culprit when things go wrong. In many cases, all that’s required is cleaning the switch. In others, the switch must be replaced. To access and replace the main switch:

Step 1: Remove the side panel and, if necessary, the power cord.

Step 2:Check the contact points for pitting or discoloration. If they are not making good contact, carefully rub them with very fine sandpaper, then clean them with an electrical contact cleaner spray or isopropyl alcohol on the end of a cotton swab. Be careful not to bend the contact leaves out of alignment.

Step 3: If the contacts are fused or the leaves broken, remove and replace the main switch. Main switches are fastened to the chassis with clips, screws, or rivets.Servicing the Thermal Fuse: A thermal fuse protects the toaster oven’s main switch from damage caused by an electrical overload. If the main switch doesn’t work, check the thermal fuse using a continuity tester or multitester. The thermal fuse should show continuity rather than an open circuit. If defective, remove and replace the thermal fuse with one of identical rating. In most models, this means cutting the fuse leads or wires and replacing the fuse unit.Some toaster ovens use a bimetallic thermostat or thermal cutout to protect the adjacent main switch from damage. Inspect the thermal cutout for debris, distortion, or discoloration. Clean debris away with a can of compressed air. As needed, clean the contact points with emery paper.Servicing Heating Elements: A heating element is vital to your toaster oven. It may only be on for a few minutes to toast bread, or, in the case of a baking/broiling unit, it may be on for an hour or more at a time. A heating element is simply a high resistance wire that glows as electricity flows through it. Heating elements, then, are easy to test. Here’s how:Step 1:Determine whether or not there is a clear path for electric current by touching a continuity tester or multitester probe to each end of the element.Step 2: If there is no clear path, remove the heating element. Removing an element may be as easy as unscrewing both ends and any support brackets; however, it may also require that rivets be removed and replaced. Your decision to replace a defective element will then depend on how easy it is to remove as well as the value of the toaster oven.

The two dark rods along the base of this toaster are the heating elements.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
The two dark rods along the base of this toaster are the heating elements.

Step 3: Once the heating element has been removed, replace it with one of identical rating and structure. Be very careful not to distort the shape of the new element as it is installed. Element wires are fragile and can be damaged easily. Higher-wattage elements are of thicker wire, much like the element in your conventional oven.

Servicing a Solenoid: The solenoid turns the electric current to the heating elements on and off. If the heating elements stay on longer than they should and burn your food, or if opening the appliance door turns them off, the solenoid may be defective. To test and replace a solenoid:Step 1: Look at the unit for visible damage and smell the area around the solenoid for obvious damage to components.Step 2: Use a continuity tester or multitester to verify your findings.Step 3: Replace the solenoid. In some units, this is easy. Simply unscrew the brackets and remove the unit. If replacing the unit requires cutting or desoldering, take the unit to an appliance-repair shop for service.So, now you are prepared next time your toaster goes on the fritz and you want to impress your schoolager with your knowledge of small appliances. If you would like to learn more, you can visit howstuffworks.com

How Toasters and Toaster Ovens Work

I like to know how things work.  Sometimes I can figure things out by observation, but other times I want someone to explain the details to me.  Toasters and toaster ovens are pretty straightforward  appliances, but for those of us who want a bit more information, howstuffworks.com offers this:

How Toasters Work

Most electric pop-up toasters all operate in the same manner. A slice of bread, a frozen waffle, a toaster strudel, or some similar food item is placed through a slot in the top of the toaster and into the carriage. The carriage is lowered into the chassis using the lever at the side of the toaster.

When it reaches the bottom, the carriage latches in position and an internal switch is activated to start the heating process. A thermostat determines how long electric current will be sent from the power cord to the heating elements.

The person who is operating the toaster sets the thermostat using a control knob or lever calibrated between light and dark. When the desired temperature is reached and the heating process is completed, the solenoid turns the current off, then unlocks the latch and allows the carriage to spring up to its original position. At this time, the toasted food is easily reachable and can be removed by the operator of the appliance.

This cross section of a toaster indicates the various elements that make a toaster work.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This cross section of a toaster indicates the various elements that make a toaster work.

How Toaster Ovens Work

To operate a toaster oven, controls are set, the door is opened, food is placed on a tray, and the door is closed. If set for toasting, a toaster thermostat operates the upper and lower heating elements as selected by the color controller. If set for baking or broiling, the baking thermostat operates the heating elements as selected by the temperature controller and possibly by a timing mechanism.

Cross section of a toaster oven
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
The cross section of a toaster oven.

So there it is, simple, yet indispensable in our kitchens.

Purchasing a Toaster Oven

If you are like me, you prefer a toaster oven to a pop-up toaster in your kitchen. A toaster oven is more versatile. To begin with, the oven can warm pastries and muffins and toast thick sliced bread that a pop-up toaster can’t handle. A larger toaster oven can hold a small casserole or cake, can roast a small chicken or even broil a steak. They can heat up frozen meals- french fries or a serving of pizza. They add less heat to a kitchen than a full size oven, which is nice in the summer. Although you might do some of these tasks in the microwave, the toaster oven browns foods, crisping them, which the microwave can’t do.

Now that you’re convinced of the necessity of owning a toaster oven, you need to choose one. Here are some things to look for when you’re shopping:

Capacity:

Smaller ovens (12″wide x 10″tall x 12″ deep)hold four slices of bread; larger ones (20″ x 10″ x 15″) can handle six.

Settings:Krups toaster oven

The most basic models have a “toast” setting, but most have more, including light, medium and dark settings. For other settings, most have the capacity to bake and broil and some can heat up to 450 degrees.

Also look for features such as preset functions for pizza or bagels which are kid friendly, electric touch pads for setting the temperature or timer, digital displays for setting precise heating and non-stick or porcelain interiors which are easier to clean.

Be sure to measure your counter space, some of the premium toaster ovens can be large and all require an extra four inches behind them (They can’t be flush against the wall) to allow for heat dissipation.

Another feature appearing on taoster ovens is convection cooking. Convection cooking uses air to circulate the heat, cooking food faster and more evenly. It is used for roasting and baking.

The really is a toaster oven for every budget. Some samples (We have not reviewed these particular models.) are:

Black & Decker Model TRO962 Toast-R-Oven with Convection Cooking, about $30black and decker toaster oven

Tefal OT806000 Avante Elite 1600 Watts Toaster Oven with Convection Cooking , about $80

Oster Model 6292 , about $100

Krups Model FBC5 Toaster Oven with Convection Cooking about $200