Popcorn Popper Repair

This Fix-It Guide on popcorn popper repair tells how a popcorn popper works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a popcorn popper problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble a hot air popper and an oil popper. This Fix-It Guide also refers to electrical receptacle repair, electrical cord repair, heating element repair,  appliance controls repair, and motor repair for specific issues.

How Does a Popcorn Popper Work?

Popcorn Popper Repair

An electric popcorn popper is a motorized heating appliance.

A popcorn popper is a small electric appliance designed for heating kernels of popcorn to the point where they pop into an edible form. Corn poppers come in two basic types, hot-air poppers and oil poppers. Hot-air poppers have a fan-like impeller that agitates the kernels with a turbulent stream of hot air in the popping chamber. Oil poppers use a rotating rod to stir the kernels in a small amount of heated cooking oil. The heat in both styles of popper is generated by a heating element in the base, activated by a simple on-off switch and controlled by a thermostat. Both types include a motor. The heating element can be either a horseshoe-shaped solid rod or a springlike resistance coil.

What Can Go Wrong with a Popcorn Popper?

A faulty thermostat or thermal cut-off is often the cause of common popcorn popper problems such as scorched or unpopped corn and excessive popping time. Motors and other components can be replaced, but it may be as economical to replace the entire unit. As with other small heating appliances, the electrical cord, the switch, the thermal cutoff, and the heating element or coil all could be faulty.

Fix-It Tip

Oil poppers can easily get dirty because excess oil splatters and cooks on to metal components. After every use, clean the popper with a sponge dampened in soapy water; then rinse with clear water. Don’t immerse the unit in water unless the manufacturer says it’s safe to do so.

How Can I Identify a Popcorn Popper Problem?

  • If the unit does not work at all, make sure power is on at the electrical receptacle and test the electrical cord, replacing it if necessary. Also test the switch and the thermal cutoff (see the Appliance Controls Fix-It Guide), replacing them as needed.
  • If the unit doesn’t heat, test the heating element (oil popper) or inspect (hot-air popper) the element. If the element is faulty, replace the popcorn popper.
  • If an oil popper’s stir rod doesn’t stir, test the motor and replace it if it is faulty or replace the popper.
  • If a hot-air popcorn popper’s fan doesn’t work, disassemble the popper and clean any debris blocking the impeller.

Fix-It Tip

You can refresh an oil popper’s nonstick surfaces by rubbing them periodically with a teaspoon of vegetable oil.

What Do I Need for Popcorn Popper Repair?

Replacement parts for popcorn poppers typically are available only from the manufacturer. Check the owner’s manual for parts numbers and parts ordering instructions. Make sure the cost of replacement parts (don’t forget to include any shipping and handling charges) doesn’t exceed the cost of replacing the unit. To disassemble and test an oil or hot-air popper you’ll need the following tools:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches
  • Multimeter

What Are the Steps to Popcorn Popper Repair?

Popcorn Popper Repair

Remove the base cover to access the motor.

Disassemble a hot-air popcorn popper:

  1. Unplug the popper and turn it upside down.
  2. Remove the screws holding the chute to the base and remove the chute.
  3. Remove the screws or fittings to loosen the motor.
  4. Remove screws holding the motor base and impeller housing. Separate the base and housing to expose the heating coil and circuitry.
  5. Use a multimeter to test the motor, heating element, and appliance controls, replacing as needed.
Popcorn Popper Repair

A hot-air popcorn popper consists of a chute, heating element, and fan motor. The element and fan can be tested with a multimeter.

Disassemble an oil popcorn popper:

  1. Unplug the popper and turn it upside down.
  2. Remove any screws securing the access plate. All serviceable components are beneath the plate.
  3. Use a multimeter to test the motor, heating element, and appliance controls, replacing as needed.