Fixing An Expensive Smart Toaster Is Worth The Time

There was a time when the simplest and cheapest kitchen appliance you could think of was a toaster. Some nichrome wire, a spring, and a mechanical thermostat were all you needed. Those days are gone and today’s toasters are full of special features, network connections, and fancy cases.

Take [boilerbot]’s Breville die-cast smart toaster. The four-slice model is upwards of $200. As Star Trek’s [Mr. Scott] said, “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” That seems to be the case here. The toaster failed and while [boilerbot] did fix it, he got lucky. He mentions that if the damage had been lower in the toaster, getting to it would have been nearly impossible.

Like a cell phone, the grand toaster is impervious to normal tools. So the first order of business is to modify a screwdriver with a rotary tool to fit the screws. There’s also a very inconvenient wire holding the case on. It seems you could pull it off with no special tools, but putting it back is another story.

Hemostats saved the day, although long pliers would probably work, or maybe even tweezers if you are dexterous enough.

The problem was a broken heating element wire. Luckily, a crimp terminal fixed it. You don’t want to solder toaster wire. It gets hot in operation and you don’t really want to drip molten lead on your bagel. The wire was, unluckily, under a rivet, so the repair was a bit more involved than it would have been otherwise. However, as you can see in the video below, the toaster made a full recovery. Good thing, too. We hate to throw out a $20 toaster, much less a $200 one!

Although this is a smart toaster, it doesn’t appear to be a pest like some smart toasters. If your toaster is beyond repair and you miss your old screen saver, we have a suggestion.

49 thoughts on “Fixing An Expensive Smart Toaster Is Worth The Time

    1. Look, I don’t want any toast, and he doesn’t want any toast. In fact, no one around here wants any toast. Not now, not ever. No toast.
      Talkie Toaster: How about a muffin?
      Lister: Or muffins! We don’t like muffins ’round here! We want no muffins, no toast, no teacakes, no buns, baps, baguettes, or bagels! No croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes, and no hot cross buns, and definitely, no smeggin’ flapjacks!
      Talkie Toaster: Aaah…so you’re a waffle man!

      [Came here for the reference, wasn’t disappointed]

  1. I have a similar Kitchen Aid Artisan die cast toaster. It too had to get the nichrome wire repaired three times. What bothers me is that a 300 dollar appliance like this does not have any spare toaster elements for sale. The only toaster with spare elements for sale that I could find are for the British Dualit Classic toaster. Now, the toaster has failed again. At this stage it’s not worth repairing the wire unless I can replace all four elements or else I will be doing the same thing again in a few months.

    1. Can confirm, the dualit classic was the only repairable toaster I could find, and you sure pay a premium for it – repairability is not high in most people’s agendas. It’s a good toaster though.

      1. A toaster shouldn’t need to have it’s heating elements replaced. Ever. Those things should last for decades, unless the thing is thrown around or smashed with a bat.

        1. These parts do have to get replaced due to thermal aging. They are resistive elements that age due to increased oxidation and thermal expansion/stresses at the higher temperatures. Its similar with water heater elements.

          1. They may need to be replaced over the expected long life of high quality device. Having to replace them multiple times before a cheap toaster fails sort of defeats the purpose of having a more durable toaster.

          2. Imagine if that were true on the same frequency for electric clothes dryers. Yes, their heating elements can fail, but they do so at a much lower frequency. It seems that the toaster makers could learn something from the clothes dryer makers …. IF they wanted to.

          3. Atip for anyone using an electric water heater.
            Always buy high surface area type heating elements.
            Meaning the ones that are folded back and wavy looking.
            You get a much better life span from them. I’ve seen nearly 2 decades of use from one pair before. The 40 yr old Heater tank finally develped a leak.
            The real bonus though, is the much faster recovery time for the same amount of energy input.

    2. Three times? How old is that toaster? My parents still has toaster that is over 30 years old without any issue and it was a cheap one from Kmart. “They don’t make em like they used to” applies to expensive toaster too

  2. Red Dwarf has already shown how much you shouldn’t make toasters smart.
    I don’t understand why anyone would spend that much on a toaster. Like all toasters, I am sure this one too has most of its heat settings calibrated to char the bread.

        1. Me Too. I really don’t get it.

          My $35 or so (been years) toaster works just fine. Simple pusher on the end with a knob to adjust time in toaster. Simple, and easy to use. Even a monkey could work it :rolleyes: . When and if we ever get a new one, it will be a standard model with no electronics in it too.

          1. I’ll note that the failure in the article is not in the electronic controls but in the heating elements, which affects all toasters electronic or not. My daily toaster is a 20+-year old electronic Cuisinart CPT-60 which still works perfectly. The electronic controls make it only a touch or two to set it for toast, bagels, or whatever and get the results I want every time.

            The failure addressed in the article seems to be a design flaw: the Breville heating element is terminating using a rivet. The Cuisinart element rests on a metal contact before terminating with multiple welds which seems to cool the element a bit before the welds and reduce thermal cycling at the welds. The Breville appears to allow the element to heat right up to the rivet, stressing the attachment point.

        2. Well, first it’s really cool how it’s motorised to lower and raise the bread. Just push the start button. The mechanism handles thin and thick bread easily. The toasting amount lever is smooth and accurate.
          The controls are simple and intuitive. The start button is also the cancel button. There’s a button called “lift and look”, which raises the toast for inspection without affecting the timer. The “frozen” button compensates for frozen bread (obviously).
          On mine there is a “crumpet/fruit bread” button. In crumpet mode it toasts one side more than the other. Just right for crumpets, but you have to insert them with the tops towards the centre. In fruit bread mode it toasts lower and slower so that the fruit bread is warmed through without being burned.
          Finally, there is a button for “a bit more”, which does exactly what you’d expect.
          Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s gimmicky. But it works great and I use every feature. I have the even-more-expensive four-slice model so neither of us needs to wait for toast in the morning.
          Mine has been used regularly for about six years now. No problems.

  3. I once had a toaster with a simple electronic timer, using two 4000 series CMOS chips. At some time it did not stop toasting any more. I replaced an IC in the timer, but soon after the same error. The root cause of the fault was an loose ground connection of the heating element which aöso served as a voltage divider for the supply of the timer circuit. This gave overvoltage to the timer circuit.
    As it was a really cheap device (10-15 €) I just replaced it instead trying to fix the connection to the heating wire.

    1. Yeah, I’ve repaired my mum and dad’s toaster a couple of times, it uses the heating element as a voltage divider for the low voltage stuff too. The power in theirs has its voltage clamped by a zener diode and goes into a linear voltage regulator so it can run run the very bright white LEDs and the clock. It actually has two of these, it’s basically a four-slot toaster that’s two two-slot toasters in a single case, but with the same adjustment on the dial the timing is absolutely precise so if you press down both sides they’ll pop up at the same moment. That is quite pleasing.

  4. clearly there is nothing but confusion regarding “smart”
    food gear,and what is on offer fullfills that function
    Want toast?,how bout french onion soup done just right?
    tomato cheese melts?and much more
    well guess what,there is nothing on the domestic market
    availible anywhere that can make these wonderfull foods
    in a counter top appliance
    which is intolerably stupid
    After training under the very best chef in Canada,and can state with confidence,that not one thing is bieng done right in the domestic food space
    I just dumpster dived an exotic fancy toster,its getting rebuilt
    to heat bearings and reflow circuit boards,as that is all it was ever good for in the first place.
    FOOD!,in a plastic box!,with any number of toxic chemicals
    in.the circuit boards?

    1. Our old hunting cabin seemed to be a collecting space for old appliances, and we have several toasters that had doors on the side where you had to flip the bread over to do the other side. It was probably as exciting at the first iPhone back when it first came out!

    1. This may be hearsay, but I have it from a Canadian federal employee that the leading cause of (federal) employee injury and death is sticking knives in toasters. And they’re running the country …

  5. Knives and forks, with the power on! No, turn it upside down.
    I’d put on top the old Sunbeam we had when I was at home. Consistent and silent, no cat scaring pop up. A thermal “motor ” lowered the bread actuated by bread’s weight on a wire attached to the lifter rack. No lever just a small knob (lighter-darker) nothing to spoil it’s Art Deco Moderne look. Then a faint click and the golden prize rises.

    1. The Toaster was that awful rectangular Nissan/Renault wasn’t it?

      Google says the term is nowhere near universal. Producers of some child’s movie bought up the whole first page of results, must be a _terrible_ movie.\

      At least a smart car can be fixed. Just install ‘busa motor and it’s a fine car.

        1. ‘busa is short for Hayabusa. The cost of tires far exceeds fuel. Is too much, like 427 cobra. 600R swap, better drivability.

          Someone put a big block 454 V8 in a smart car. Cool enough. But really just an empty chassis bolted to tubular steel. Makes CA state ref sad referee. No registration for him. It clearly was not a 1973 1 ton pickup.

  6. I’m sorry but if the answer to the question “Is fixing any toaster Is worth the time?” on here is not a always resounding FUCK YEAH!!!!! I don’t wanna come here anymore. TOASTER REPAIR IS THE FOUNDATIONAL INSTINCT THAT RESIDES IN THE HEART OF EACH AND EVERY HACKER AND TINKERER THE WORLD HAS EVEN KNOWN. ;)

  7. Hey that’s my repair!

    I read HAD all the time, what a surprise.

    Your comments are great. Yes $200 is expensive but I have a son that loves toast but is very picky on the done ness. This toaster is very good and consistent and I love the count down timer display in the morning rush to school. It also has a “little bit more” button to retoast a bit longer.

    However I would gladly take a classic Sunbeam radiant toaster but check their prices lately?

    So I figure $200 over twenty years isn’t to much to spend, but will it last 20 years? Not a great start at two years right now.

  8. Simplest kitchen appliance?

    Egg beater or a mixer

    Just an ac motor coupling for attachment, and a potentiometer or rheostat for speed control

    Just metal cost more than plastic

  9. We had a Breville toaster-oven. Great unit – it toasts, warms, bakes, broils; easy to operate and clean. EXCEPT that they cheaped out on the electronics: there was insufficient de-bounce circuitry/firmware on the main start/stop button (yes, I replaced the pushbutton itself. The faut is common on this model), and the AC connections to the PC board were way under-spec’ed. One push-on connection heated up and burnt itself off the PC board, and one soldered relay connection “unsoldered” itself. I fixed the toaster a few times, but then I think its current sensor went, and the unit’s self protection just gave us “F5” on the display, meaning EOL (unless you wanna spend $200+ for a fix). We replaced it with a newer version of the same model; the dead one will become a reflow oven or something.

    We had an electric clothes dryer once whose heating element blew a few times. Each time I’d just slide the two ends into a metal crimp connector, crimp it hard, and another few months of drying. Now we have a computerized gas-fired clothes dryer that lost its mind after a few years, so now it only does 60 min or 15 min at a manually-selected temperature. Progress…

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