Warm Up to Your Toaster Oven

By: Bert Aurthurs

Microwave ovens are today's appliance choice of corner-cutting cooks. But long before these time-saving marvels hit the market, no kitchen was complete without a trusty toaster oven.

Toaster ovens are aptly named counter-top appliances that resemble both a tiny oven, and a big toaster. Handy substitutes to energy-gobbling full-size ovens, toaster ovens can crisp up your waffles, toast your bread, and re-heat just about anything.

A toaster oven is small and takes up very little counter space, which is a boon to homemakers with compact kitchens. They're easy to use, too. A simple dial will set the heat control to the desired temperature. Then, just open the door, place the food to be baked or toasted on the inner cooking grill, and then close the door. Most toaster ovens feature glass windows that allow you to monitor the cooking process, ensuring that food doesn't burn.

If the food on the shelf has been set for toasting, the toaster thermostat will be activated. The thermostat, in turn, causes the built-in heating elements to kick in to gear. These heating elements are found both at the top and bottom of the inside of the oven, providing a balanced source of heat. Your toaster oven will also have a heat control to set the desired temperature. If, on the other hand, your dial has been set for baking, the baking thermometer then gets activated. Like the toasting thermometer, this will activate the same heating elements.

However, the baking process involves an additional function: a timing mechanism to control the baking time. Of course, the baking abilities will depend upon wattage and capacity, and are often related to the quality and price of the toaster oven.

All manufactured products will eventually face mechanical problems, and toaster ovens are no exception. Many homemakers will find that they need to purchase a replacement electrical cord, as the original cords are known to burn out fairly quickly. Others complain of faulty thermostats. When thermostats cause errors in temperature regulation, they can be recalibrated. If you face this problem, check your product manual or take the appliance to a professional service shop.

The toaster oven's electrical system is also made up of the thermal fuse, solenoid and main switch. With regular use, all of these components are prone to problems. Toaster ovens less than one year old should still be covered under a manufacturer's warranty, and may be repaired or replaced at no cost. Sometimes it seems to make more sense to replace the entire unit rather than paying a pricey service fee, but think carefully before you toss your toaster oven into a landfill site. The environmental consequences of throwing a unit away may outweigh the minimal time and money it will take to fix it.

Take good care of your toaster oven, and it will take good care of you. Choose a reputable brand, and you will enjoy perfectly toasted mini-pizzas and hors d'ouvres for years to come.

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Bert Aurthurs is an author for numerous popular web zines, on online shopping mall and best information online shopping topics.
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