How a Can Opener Works
Electric can openers work on the same principle as the manually operated type, but the appliance does all the work for you. With an electric can opener, you can have your tuna, fruit and vegetables almost instantly. The can opener must be plugged in to work. There is a lever on the top front of the appliance that if you push down, you will hear the can opener working. Lift the lever and it stops. That is because there is a switch that is engaged when you push the lever down. Under the lever, on the front, you will see a cutting blade right over a small gear. The lip of the can is placed just under the blade, and the lever is pushed down to hold it in place and turn the appliance on. Inside the can opener, there are gears that turn when the lever is pushed down. These gears turn the small gear under the cutting blade and rotate the can. While the can is rotating, the blade is cutting the lid off the can all the way around. Normally, there is a small arm that comes off of the lever that holds a magnet. The magnet will stick to the lid of the can and hold it to the can opener when you remove the can. Once the can is open, you can lift the lever and remove the open can. Use care when removing the lid, as the edges are sharp and can cut you.
Maintaining Your Can Opener
You can keep your can opener working without problems for years with some simple maintenance. After you've been opening cans for a while, you will notice a buildup of paper, metal shavings and food stuck to the cutting blade and turning gear. Before you start to clean the appliance, make sure to unplug it. The blade is sharp, and you can get cut if you forget. In most cases the lever can be taken out of the opener simply by pulling forward. This will give you better access to the blade and gear. Use a few drops of dish soap in warm water and toothbrush to clean off the blade and gear. Then wipe it down with clean water to remove the debris and soap. While you have it apart, check the magnet for stuck on food, too. Clean it in the same fashion. When the opener is completely dry, use a small amount of white lubricant around the gear. Wipe off any excess lubricant so it doesn't get into your food. Put the lever back on, and you're ready to open some more cans.
Troubleshooting the Can Opener
Sometimes there are problems with the can opener that you can fix yourself. If the can opener is not working at all, first make sure you have plugged it in. If you have, then check the switch under the lever to make sure it is not clogged by dirt or food particles. If you are mechanically inclined, there is a motor fuse on the inside that may be bad. You can order the fuse from the manufacturer or check the local hardware store. If nothing works, then it is most likely the motor, which would need to be repaired by a professional; however, that may cost more than a new can opener.
If the motor seems to be working slowly while you are opening a can, the most likely cause is a dull blade. You can sharpen the blade with a grinding stone or replace the blade. Another common problem is that the can drops off the opener. Sometimes the gear gets loose and just needs to be tightened. If the gear is turning but the can isn't, then the gear is probably worn and will need to be replaced. Check these easy solutions out before you toss the can opener.