Don’t we all love shiny gadgets on our kitchen aisle? The sheer happiness of waking up early to make perfectly toasted slices of bread in a sleek toaster is incomparable. The feeling is indeed unbeatable when you have newly bought your fancy toaster. But how long will it last you? Do toaster heating elements wear out?
Yes, toaster heating elements do wear out with time. Modern toasters will wear out quicker than vintage toasters. This is because old toasters’ heating elements were made of Nichrome, which is way more durable and ductile compared to the Aluminum, Iron, and Chromium alloys used for the heating elements now.
Unlike vintage toasters, the modern ones are more prone to wearing out after 5 years. After a few years, you will notice your bread toasts are unevenly brown and require a higher temperature. Why does that happen? Let’s find out together.
What are toaster elements made of?
Earlier toasters had only one central heating element requiring the user to flip the bread manually. It was a hassle, but with the advent of two slot toasters, everything was peaceful again.
The earliest toasters might be a little hard to work with, but their build and material were top-notch. The heating elements were usually made of Nichrome, an alloy of nickel, chromium, and iron. This alloy was very strong and firm. In fact, the Nichrome wire is said to be the wire that made cooking electric. It would hold the properties of its separate elements for a long time.
Now, nickel has become expensive, and so has the manufacturing of Nichrome alloy. To make this affordable, the manufacturers started using aluminum instead of nickel. The new alloy is more resistant to corrosion, but its brittle nature makes it weak and prone to breaking easily.
The humble bread toasters have now advanced into toaster ovens; they bake stuff but with electricity. The basic working principle is the same as small toasters. And unlike gas ovens, you don’t always have to preheat a toaster oven. But it is highly recommended.
Contrary to popular belief, a toaster is not limited to getting crispy bread every morning. It is also frequently used to heat frozen items like Eggos and pizza slices. However, there is a little catch while heating frozen food in a toaster.
How to know that your toaster element is giving up
So how would you know if your toaster has given up on you? Here’s a list of symptoms you would notice while using your toaster:
- The bread would be unevenly brown. It might be a bit burnt from some spots.
- It requires a much higher temperature to toast the bread.
- The push lever does not stay down.
- It takes longer than before, and the time keeps increasing every day.
- You detect some broken spots in the heating element.
- You smell something burning from your toaster, but it is not the food.
Reasons for toaster element wearing out
Let’s face it; all heating elements will eventually wear out no matter where they are used. The constant heating and other environmental factors make them weak over time. But what other reasons contribute to cutting your toaster’s life short?
- You have heated too many frozen objects in the toaster. Frozen items have a lot more water content compared to plain bread. This water turns to moisture upon heating and is responsible for corroding the heating element.
- You have failed to maintain a clean toaster. Most modern toasters come with a removable tray. That is the same tray that gathers crumbs from bread and whatnot. Be careful, though – a liquid detergent and water are all you need to clean your toaster. Using abrasive detergent would only add to the wear and tear.
- You have inserted a sharp object inside the toaster in the wrong way. Yes, it happens commonly. People often use various thin objects in their attempts to clean the inside of a toaster. Any wrong move, and you might have just damaged it.
These were some of the reasons for which humans are responsible. But what has actually happened at the root level that has weakened modern toasters?
Why are modern toasters worse than vintage toasters
The answer lies in the word “modern.” In the past, the toasters had one job – to toast the bread. The entire assembly was simple, including the main circuit. All it needed to do was heat up the element to crisp the bread inside. Now, the humble toaster has become an all-in-one kind of machine.
Modern toasters now come with a variety of settings. It allows the users to choose the level of crispiness they want your bread to be. It also identifies the type of food placed inside based on what you have chosen from the menu and heats it accordingly. For example, it won’t heat the bagel as it heats the bread.
These options might look appealing to humans, but they come at a price (quite literally!) Not only are these toasters expensive, but the complex circuitry also makes them prone to premature wear and tear. The more you use it, the earlier it will give up. At best, a maintained toaster will last you somewhere between 5 to 8 years, 10 at max.
Should you get your toaster repaired?
No, getting your toaster repaired after it has stopped working is pointless. When you already know it has worked past its life, it is time to get a new toaster. Usually, the cost of repairing an electronic appliance is a portion of its original price, but with toasters, it is entirely different.
Once the heating element wears out, you just assume that the toaster is dead. You may get a new heating element, but it won’t be the same as the original one and will soon start troubling you.
Concluding thoughts on whether toaster heating elements wear out or not
Toasters and toaster ovens are great to work with. They cut our time short, and we get hot food in no time. But like everything else, modern toasters aren’t as good as their predecessors.
Modern toasters will stop working in a few years, and you will indeed have to replace them. You can increase their lifespan by a few months, but that’s about it. It is best to invest in a new toaster at the first sign of wearing before it gets worse.