We ran into the same problem today with our toaster. There was never a problem before I cleaned it--not only by sliding out the crumb drawer, but by turning it upside down to dislodge every last crumb. After that, It would not stay down when pushed down.
My husband took the cover off and found that a magnet is what keeps the lever down when the toaster's on, and allows it to go back up when the toasting is done. It's an electro magnet that works only when the toaster is on. It seems that when I turned the unit upside down and rightside up again, crumbs landed on the magnet's contact plates (which are about 1/4" x 1/2") and would not allow the magnet to engage. Because the magnet wouldn't engage, the lever would not stay down, and the toaster shut off. Brush off the magnets, replace the cover and toast away!
I have this toaster and it's been the best toaster i've ever had. One day the lever stopped staying down. I turned it upside down, shook it and then it started working again, but only briefly. I went so far as to go and buy another similar toaster for $80!!! My husband took the old one apart after seeing this blog and VOILA! He found crumbs between the magnet and the switch assembly which weakens the magnet connection, thus keeping the lever from staying down. After cleaning it with a cotton swab, it works again! It didn't take much to disassemble and fix this problem.
Oster toasters and others with all the giss-moses (several buttons for different settings) in side them sometimes need to be un-plugged and wait a min or so then plug it back up... Meaning, that is how you RESET the toaster... So Simple...
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Just a guess since I have had the same happen to my Proctor Sillex - When you push down the lever, you are actually completing the transformer frame that then magnetically keeps the toast down until it's setting lets the toaster pop up.
In my case, a piece of toast was wedged and I could not get the handle down so that the hardware was in place to magnetically hold. Have you tried to give your toaster a good thorough shaking upside down, unplugged over the garbage can or the sink?
Good luck Eric
Since you don't mention the make or model number of the toaster or its age I can only make the following guesses.
It might be an electronic model. To test if this is the case, leave the toaster unplugged and push the lever of the toaster down. If it does not stay down it is an electronic toaster. If it stays down then it is NOT electronic.
The lights might be lighted push buttons.
If you plug the toaster in then put a slice of bread or two in and push the lever handle down and one light comes on then this is probably a dual purpose pushbutton. It indicates that the heating elements are on and if you push it will cancel the toasting cycle and the bread slices should pop up.
If there is a button beside the above button it could be for extending the toaster cycle time a bit longer to compensate for a thicker slice or a denser bread like a bagel. If you push it, it will light up to let you know that the cycle has been extended for this reason.
If there is a button beside this one, it could be for extending the toasting cycle to compensate for a frozen slice of bread or whatever, like a bagel or even a frozen waffle.
If you find the make and model for your toaster, it might be on the bottom somewhere, google it to see if you can download an instruction manual for it.
Hope this helps. Good Luck.
Constant use can lead to crumbs clogging the path of the lever. Try opening up the bottom panel, by pulling on the metal tab to release the plate (and crumbs!) over a trash can. Also try flipping the toaster upside down and, very gently, shaking the crumbs out. if that doesn't work, you can try checking the toaster's browning dial. This might be too low to activate the heating coil. Try dialing it up, and pushing the lever down again. I hope this helps. You can check our post on Best ways to use a Toaster oven. Best ways to use toaster oven 2017 ultimate guide Kitchenutilitypro
Be sure to unplug toaster first. While inverting your toaster, depress the toaster lever(s) and shake toaster to clear all bread crumbs. It can take up to several minutes of shaking to clear them completely, however, the key is to depress the toaster levers down at the same time. Also, remember to remove bread crumb trays and empty regularly, as the trays are too shallow and allow crumbs to build up quickly, thereby blocking the "locking mechanism" of the lever(s).
If after cleaning your toaster out thoroughly, the levers still won't remain depressed, try various outlets throughout your kitchen. Oftentimes, when one GFI (Ground Fault Indicator) trips, several outlets along the same circuit will also trip.
Also, there is a website called Manuals.com, which has a very good database of many manuals for various manufacturers and models of toasters, should all of the above efforts fail.
I did all of the above and fixed my toaster within five minutes. :- )
remove the housing & you will probably notice the 2 ceramic pieces are burned out. (They maybe plastic) But these are the 2 pieces and the 2 long metal contact points that come together when the lever is pushed down. The 2 metal contact strips come together & make the eletronic connection to start the heating process. let me know if you find the parts.
For what it might cost to fix it buy a better brand of toaster for about 10% of the cost of this horrible brand.
You'll notice their new ones are "smart" toasters with NO LEVER. You push a button and the electronics takes care of the rest (and blow up quickly.)
$15 to $25 at Walmart.. instead of $100 to $200.