Never Ignore These Signs From Your Old Toaster Oven

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Appliances often are a massive investment. You buy a refrigerator the intention of using it for years. Even toaster ovens — which you can buy from Best Buy for $40 or splurge $130 on an air fryer version from Williams Sonoma — are purchases you probably don't want to make repeatedly. However, these appliances break down over time.

When that inevitably happens, you should recycle it. Toaster Report explains that at least some of the materials used in making the toaster oven are recyclable. If you were to simply throw it in the garbage, the metal and plastic would not break down, creating preventable waste. Moreover, more modern toaster ovens include electronic parts that count as e-waste. How you recycle the toaster oven depends on where you live, as certain jurisdictions will pick it up along with the rest of the recycling. However, companies like All Green Recycling have trucks and pick-up locations that may cover areas where the municipal services don't deal with toaster ovens. Let's take a look at signs that may indicate it's time to consider replacing this trusty appliance.

Rust can lead to a damaged oven

If left unchecked, rust can corrode the interior of your toaster oven. The concern is not that the rust will infect your food. AZ Rust explains that even though rust is not pleasant to eat or drink, consuming it is not deleterious to your health because it's iron. When consumed in reasonably small quantities, rust is only a health concern if you already suffer from hemochromatosis, which is when you have an elevated amount of iron in your system.

Toaster Report writes that the problem arises when rust is left unchecked. Those rusty patches of worn iron can turn into holes in your toaster oven, which both hamper your attempts at cooking and present potentially dangerous situations. However, you can prolong the lifespan of your toaster oven by cleaning out the rust on a regular basis. In their in-depth guide for rust removal, SFGate recommends using a rust cleaner, baking soda, vinegar, a plastic brush, sandpaper, and a lot of elbow grease.

Frayed cords and other fire starters

A toaster oven is an electrical appliance, so it can catch fire if left badly maintained. In fact, according to Reynolds Restoration Services, toasters and toaster ovens are one of the five types of appliances to catch fire the most often. Fires begin when overcooked food sparks or heating elements combust.

While you can solve overcooked food by not overcooking your food, CNET notes that frayed cords and small sparks are both signs of a malfunctioning toaster oven that could result in a house fire. As Connect2Loca explains, frayed cords are dangerous because they lack the insulation that keeps the heat produced by the running electricity from warming up flammable materials. Sparks can catch on flammable materials and cause a fire.

In the same manner, you should not attach your toaster oven to an extension cord. Yes, sometimes the toaster oven's cord is too short to reach the desired counter space. However, KitchenGearoid warns that even though you could use certain extension cords temporarily, choosing the right one is key, as a mismatch of power cords can also cause a fire. Still, people should take the reasonably cautious route of avoiding exertion cords and not risking a fire in the first place.

Cracked glass or ill-fitting doors means its time to go

If the glass for the door of your toaster oven has cracked, you should look into replacing the entire appliance. CNET explains that the point of the glass isn't just to give you a view of the food but also to contain the heat. Similarly, Home Efficiency Guide states that a door that doesn't close all the way means that heat is escaping. Again, it's not a functional oven if the heat doesn't stay within the device.

However, a more worrisome point is that cracked glass can be the beginning of a fault that will later shatter. In 2020, NBC Chicago covered a trend of videos showing ovens exploding after initiating a self-cleaning process. Part of the issue is the rapid heating and cooling that is involved in the cleaning. These breaks occur with ovens that use soda lime glass. The other issue that occurs in glass that is made to withstand both hot and cold temperatures is a defect. "Sometimes the high heat event like oven cleaning event can bring about that finally that spontaneous failure that was in there," Mark Meshulam of Chicago Window Expert explained (per NBC Chicago). Before you start worrying, you should recycle your toaster oven and be glad that they are relatively cheap things to replace.