Can a toaster be 'rewired' ?

iris16February 4, 2009

I hope this is the right place to ask this question. I'm usually on the kitchen forum.

I recently purchased an old (1950's) toaster at a garage sale. I really like the look of it but recently, when touching it with wet hands I felt a "tingle". Does this mean it has a short? Can a new cord be put on or would it be something else that is worng?

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Well if it was built in the 50s its got no ground on it so it could be a short indeed. Yes it can also be rewired and its a pretty easy task if you can get the thing open. U may be able to just open her up and see exactly what the problem is. Its stranded wire prob sauntered to the coils. It maybe as simple as a little sauntering and its as good as new. Some of the stranded wire possibly came lose and is hitting the side. This may sound dumb but are you sure it was a electric shock from the toaster or maybe a static shock?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:37PM
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Good luck "sauntering" (which means 'idly strolling') those wires on there. They're probably not soldered either, as solder tends to melt with high heat, and toasters are heating appliances.

My toaster contains the special high-temperature wire (stranded wire with some sort of heavy-duty braid around it) CRIMPED onto the ends of the heating element.

Disassemble the unit and follow ALL of the wires, looking for any wire that is touching the case. This includes the heating element itself, as it may very well short to the case at a point in the middle.

You may find a wire, most likely one of the power cord wires, directly attached to the case in a way that looks as if it was intentionally done. If this is the case... then you need to, at the very minimum (and this isn't a great solution either), replace the power cord with a POLARIZED (one prong larger than the other) cord and ensure that the larger prong is the side attached to the case. If this turns out to be the issue, do respond in here so that we can give you a better solution (note for any other regular who responds to such a post if I go AWOL: disconnect case wire, replace with grounded cord...)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 3:24AM
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You should not use a grounded cord with a toaster. If a piece of toast gets stuck and you try to pry it out with a knife and touch the element, and you're not grounded, nothing will happen. If you're slightly grounded, you'll get a small shock as the resistance will be too high. But if the case were grounded, and you were holding it, you'd be the perfect path to ground.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 7:54AM
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Ron Natalie

What does the knife coming in contact with the toaster element have to do with the cord? My DUALIT toaster, perhaps the most expensive conventional toaster on the market, has the case grounded (and a grounded cord).

Actually your more likely to smoke your knife and trip the breaker if the case were grounded.

However, if you've got case leakage, grounding it will not solve the problem.

Thank god for GFCI's in the kitchen

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 9:00AM
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>Thank god for GFCI's in the kitchen

Yes. But if the OP is getting a "tingle," there's a high probability that this kitchen doesn't have them.

Not that this should replace a proper kitchen GFCI receptacle (not to mention ensuring that the toaster itself is correctly and safely wired), but...

Most if not all hair dryers have, for some time now, been equipped with cords that have integral GFCI protection at the plug. If the OP has or can find a disused hair dryer with one, would there be any objection to replacing the old toaster cord with one of these?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 10:22AM
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iris16, since you mention a minor sensation, that you only feel when hands are wet, my first guess is this: a tingling, being slight not sharp & hard, is probably from the "neutral" wire sending a little bit of current into the case. Not the other wire, which carries the power (voltage, line). Look at where the two wires come out of the cord and into the toaster. Isolate the neutral wire a bit more, and see if the tingling stops. The neutral wire will be the one that doesn't get spread out as a heating element. Neutral has white sheathing, power has black, by today's standards and pro'lly back then too.

-- If this is correct, then the first answer posted was not too far off: it's neither static nor a shock of real 110VoltAC power.
-- Note that this does not answer the bigger question about grounding it to today's standards, it merely helps you understand what you got. The second answer posted includes some of this more advanced topic.
-- First things first.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 11:51AM
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I suspect the insulation in the original cord is breaking down. It was probably cloth-covered? You can get replacement cord the same, or you ought to be able to, just rewire it exactly as it was done before, if it has a ground, it should again. If you don't see any obvious loose wires, look also for dead mice etc, you'd be surprised.

You can also buy gfci plugs, or things that go into the receptacle that you then plug into. That would be another approach.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 1:08PM
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DEAD MICE! I hope not. I did clean it out really well when I first purchased it.
Thanks for all the information everyone. I am way out of my element here so I'll have to ask DH to have a look at the information given.
I am sure it wasn't a static shock. It just wasn't that kind of quick thing, more of.....well a "tingle".

The toaster does have a cloth cord. I don't see any area of wear. It does not have a ground plug or a polarized plug.

Thanks for all the information. I'll get back to you about what we do.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 4:45PM
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Say Ghost five times as fast as you can...

Now... what do you put in a toaster?

I would say take it apart and look everything over and if you do not find anything check for voltage from the case of the toaster to the ground on the outlet after you start some bread.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 7:37PM
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I'm not sure I'd want to touch any toaster or appliance new or old with damp hands.

Electricity taught me who was the boss in college when I plugged a sewing machine into a floor outlet that had somehow become a bit damp.

It's a sensation, sound, and smell you never forget. :-)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:52PM
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Ron Natalie

Is there some reason you felt it necessary to dredge up an four year old post to make that comment?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:43AM
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"Well if it was built in the 50s its got no ground on it."

Toasters with exposed live heating elements have classically (and still) often have no ground for a metal case.

It would INCREASE the danger to have a solid ground present.

Some new toasters use insulated hating rods (the patent expired long ago) that have a heating element inside a ceramic filled metal tube (same as eclectic stoves, they used to be referred to as 'Caloric heating rods').

These have no exposed hot elements and often also lack a ground.

The joints to the heating wire are always crimped since solder (and even much brazing) would not survive the heat level present (red hot).

The old appliance can be restored, but it should be restored exactly, and if it has 2-prong plug, maintain a 2-prong plug.

The correct temperature insulation should also be used for the cord.
The conductors are often relatively small for the load current and they rely on the higher temperature insulation to stand up to the cord losses.

There are a number of places that sell cut lengths of correct cloth covered (for appearance) high temperature insulated cord to match these old appliances (sometime even matching the old colored checkering present in the decorative cloth braid).
The cord construction is often two conductors, an overall jacket (commonly rubber in old cords) and then the cloth braid.

If it is old enough, you may even find asbestos insulated conductors both in the cord and the internal wiring so be careful.
Sheets of asbestos to hold the heating elements are not uncommon either.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:22AM
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