Using an electric appliance can always spark curiosity in anyone. For example, toasters can do things that make us question if it's normal. More specifically, you might be curious if it's normal for a toaster to spark. After all, it's better to find out now than find trouble later through ignorance. If you'd like to find out if a toaster should spark, let's find out.
It is standard for a toaster to spark when you operate it. You will notice it near the control switch of the toaster. It sparks because of the process it goes through to toast your bread. Regardless, you will typically see a blue spark or a flash of light when:
- The bread holder latches onto the down position.
- At release after the toasting cycle.
- When you release the holder by using the cancel button.
Since most toasters operate with electricity to execute their processes, it's natural to see a spark. Toasters work by allowing current inside. It's a simple but interesting process. If you'd like to find out why a toaster sparks during various situations, keep reading ahead.
Why Does A Toaster Spark?
Let's first address why a toaster sparks. It sparks because of the way it operates to toast your bread. Most toasters use a capacitor timer. The way it works is by a few sets of processes.
It begins when you select the darkness of your toast. This step sends a signal to a component in the toaster. It tells this component how much current to let in. Once you push the bread holder into the down position, it presses against electrical contacts.
The electrical contacts will send electricity to the circuit board. This starting sequence is where you may witness the first spark. Altogether, the spark you see when you pull down the handle is the current going into the toaster.
From here, the process keeps going on. It heats a nichrome wire to begin toasting your bread. Though, the component that causes the second spark is the capacitor. As mentioned, most toasters use a capacitor timer.
The current fills the capacitor up until a certain point. Once the capacitor fills to a limit, it will shut off the power. At this point, the handle releases and cuts the power off to the toaster. Here you may witness the second spark.
The third spark is a culmination of the information above. You will notice the first spark when you pull the handle down. But, if you cancel it, you shut the power off instead of the capacitor. This situation can produce a spark.
As one user explains, the electrical current does not like to be stopped suddenly. When you use the cancel button, you turn the toaster off in an instant. However, the existing current will try to stay in place. In doing so, it will create a large voltage and subsequently a spark in the switch.
All-in-all, these types of sparks are mostly harmless. It's simply the toaster performing as it should.
Can a Toaster Catch on Fire?
Yes, toasters can catch on fire. It is a relatively simple appliance that requires additional care. The components inside a toaster only account for the amount of current coming inside. For any other processes, like preventing fires, the work will be entirely on the individual.
For example, the components in a toaster can get stuck and malfunction. There's no component inside a toaster to account for this when it happens. So, when it gets stuck, the heating element will continue operating.
As it continuously operates, it will eventually overheat and produce a fire. This situation is more likely to happen if you do not clean the crumbs bread can leave behind. Therefore, it's crucial to monitor your toaster during and after use. Once you no longer need to use it, unplug it.
Are Toaster Wires Live?
If you're in a situation where you have to ask yourself if a toaster contains live wires, proceed with caution. The components in a toaster are live. When it is plugged in, you should avoid touching the insides.
As a user explains, the toaster uses an uninsulated coil to produce heat. If you touch it with a fork or knife, it will try to find the easier path.
In the best-case scenario, the metal will touch the toaster's housing and blow a fuse. At worst, it will travel through your hand and result in grave consequences.
When you unplug the toaster, you reduce the risk of getting electrocuted. No power is going through the components in the toaster. However, another user suggests there is a situation where you can still get shocked even if it's unplugged. That situation being that grounded metal or pooled water is present on the counter.
Regardless of either case, it's probably in your best interest not to stick a fork or knife down a toaster.
What To Do If A Toaster Catches On Fire
Toasters are known to catch fire at random times. It isn't a spontaneous case. It usually has to do with crumbs left to burn inside or some malfunction with the components. Regardless of the cause, you will probably like to know what to do if your toaster catches on fire.
Once it begins to flare up, unplug the appliance right away. Ideally, there should be a fire extinguisher in the kitchen for these situations. But, if you don't have one, you can use other methods to reduce the fire.
The first option is to fling it in the oven. Of course, you should only try this if you can avoid hurting yourself. Try to avoid the flames as much as possible and place the toaster inside the oven. Once inside, the fire will have less access to oxygen. It should die down after a while.
Smothering the fire should be the main concern. Without a fire extinguisher, you can also use baking soda as an alternative. One crucial aspect to keep in mind is that you will need to use a lot of it. You shouldn't sprinkle it and hope the fire dies down. Instead, dump the powder onto the flames.
Call the Fire Department
If you can't contain the fire by yourself, your safety is the priority. Once the fire starts to get out of hand, immediately contact others to evacuate the area. When you are all safe, you can proceed to call the fire department.
One tip to keep in mind, if the size of the fire is larger than a basketball, it indicates that the situation is out of your control. You shouldn't attempt to fight the fire if it's out of your knowledge to contain one.
What to Avoid
You should avoid using water or flour when trying to stop a toaster fire. Water can potentially spread the fire further if there is grease present. On the other hand, flour can explode in dust form when it gets too hot.
What Causes Toaster Oven Fires?
Preventing fires in toaster ovens is a simple process. Though, sometimes it can be easy to forget. Fire becomes a concern when you don't regularly clean out the appliance. If you let crumbs build-up at the bottom of the toaster, it can catch fire.
Similarly, leaving food inside for too long can also be a potential danger. The size of the food is another factor that can contribute to a fire. Ideally, you shouldn't jam a food piece that is too large for the slots.
As easy as a toaster can catch fire, it is also easy to prevent it from happening. Toasters are simple appliances but, their simplicity can become a headache. It's crucial to be attentive when you're putting it into use. Days can get busy. But, you should always unplug the toaster once you finish using it.
If you've used the toaster for some time, you will also want to check for any signs of wear. Black or discolored spots on the wires can indicate signs of trouble. In this situation, it's best to unplug the toaster and replace the cord.
Lastly, consider the timeframe that you've owned the toaster. If it's longer than 6-8 years, you should consider getting a new one. This is especially the case if the toaster isn't working as well as it used to.
Simple appliances can be a blessing and a headache. They can act in ways that you might question if it's normal. Toasters spark because it requires a good amount of electricity to operate. It can seem scary. But, it's standard for them!
Before you go, do you have other toaster concerns? Do you need a guide on cleaning toasters? For more information, check out our post here.
Are you wondering if you can leave other appliances plugged in? If you own a Keurig, check out our post here to find out if you should leave it plugged in! Until next time!