Does your kettle keep turning itself on or off? It can be disconcerting – and even dangerous – to find any appliance to have “a mind of its own”. The sooner you take care of it the sooner you’ll feel safe about having it in your kitchen. Here’s what to know and what to do about it.
Why does my kettle keep turning on or off? A kettle can keep turning on for a variety of reasons including:
- A failing ON/OFF switch
- A lid that is not properly closed
- An obstructed switch
- Water in the steam tube
- A broken thermostat
Electric kettles are great for making coffee or tea, but can be a source of frustration when they malfunction, for example, when they keep turning on without explanation or when the electric kettle auto-shut-off is not working as it should.
Here you will find a variety of potential fixes for a kettle that won’t stop turning on. You will also find many recommendations on how to properly maintain your kettle and a recommendation on which device can help you with your troubleshooting efforts.
How to fix a kettle that keeps on turning on or not at all
There are several possible reasons that your kettle keeps turning on or not at all. Below is a troubleshooting guide to help solve the frustration.
Failing ON/OFF electric kettle switch — kettle won’t turn on or turns on itself
Your kettle seems to turn on automatically without warning. Or, it might be your electric kettle is not turning on for you, to brew that beverage. In both cases, a malfunctioning ON/OFF switch could be to blame. According to the troubleshooting guide of a known brand:
An internally damaged ON/OFF switch will prevent voltage from being applied to the heating element.
It’s a good idea, before heading down this path, to go through the rest of this guide to ensure you’ve covered off all the easy fixes first.
If all else fails and your kettle is fairly new, check your warranty to see if you qualify for a replacement, before venturing to repair it yourself.
Electric kettle switch repair
To repair the ON/OFF switch, you will need a #2 Phillips Screwdriver like these, that you get at Amazon.
- Disconnect the kettle from power before proceeding
- Unscrew the bottom and top screws
- Depending upon which specific kettle you have, you remove the handle part of the kettle to access the switch
- Pull out the switch carefully in order to not inadvertently pull out the spring behind the switch
- Replace the switch with a new one
IMPORTANT: For safety reasons, unless you are a qualified electrician I’d recommend replacing your kettle rather than attempting to fix its electrical workings.
If you have doubt about is your kettle safe or not, replace it, especially if the problem is the electrical workings. It is probably cheaper, in the long run. In which case, it’s best to check the following first to see if you can easily fix the problem without another outlay.
Kettle lid not closed and properly sealed
The kettle may have trouble turning on and off automatically if the kettle lid is not closed and properly seated in position.
In the kettle, there is a metal tube positioned next to the handle. The hole at the top of the tube collects steam from boiling water and flows down the tube to the thermostat.
If the kettle lid is not closed properly, then the steam will not build up within the dome of the kettle. Then the thermostat will be unable to reach the desired temperature in order to trigger the automatic shut-off feature.
Reposition the lid on top of the kettle and try boiling water again to see if the automatic ON/OFF feature is working smoothly. If this doesn’t fix the issue, you may have a malfunctioning thermostat switch or a broken thermostat that needs to be repaired.
Switch should be free of obstructions
If the power switch for the kettle is obstructed in any way, it could cause the kettle to have difficulty turning on and off in a normal fashion.
The suggested remedy is to clear the power switch of any obstructions.
Limescale – heavy mineral scale build up
Over time, limescale can build up inside the kettle and cause the kettle’s automatic ON/OFF feature to malfunction.
Descaling products suitable for kitchen appliances can be found online at Amazon. Two recommended descaling products are:
- Durgol Descaler
- Oust Descaler
Follow the descaler manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the product.
You can also minimize potential scale build-up in your kettle by doing the following:
- Empty the kettle after each use, avoid letting water stand in the kettle overnight
- You may consider using filtered water instead of tap water in your water if encounter scaling issues frequently
- Apply the descaling formula to the kettle at least once per month
- When you are using a descaling solution on the kettle be sure to properly rinse before use
Descaling can be how to fix a kettle that won’t boil – won’t turn on or turns itself on.
Water went down the steam tube
You may have accidentally poured water down the steam tube while you were filling your kettle. This can cause the kettle to not turn on and off properly.
The manufacturer’s recommendation for this problem is to let the kettle dry for 24 hours. You may also aid the drying process by drying the kettle off with a dry rag or towel.
Kettle was operated without the proper amount of water
Another potential cause of the kettle turning on by itself could be that you boiled water without adding the proper amount of water to the kettle at first.
This is what is referred to as “a dry-boil.” If you do not add the minimum amount of water to the kettle, the Boil-Dry protection feature found in some kettles (you’ll find this mentioned in their user guide) can offer protection.
Tip: Always check the water, then turn on kettle.
The dry-boil protection feature acts as a safety feature to trip the switch in the event that the kettle has been left on accidentally.
The dry-boil protection feature can be the reason your kettle won’t turn on or why it shuts off unexpectedly. It may also cause the switch system to malfunction and turn on when you don’t want the kettle to be turned on.
In these kettles, the manufacturer’s user guide may warn that if you let the kettle dry-boil too often, you can cause irreversible damage to the kettle.
There are steps you can take to prevent this from occurring.
To reset the dry-boil protection feature:
- Allow the kettle to cool
- Fill with cool water, then turn on kettle
- Re-boil the water and check to see that the kettle turns on and off as expected
If the kettle still does not work properly, you may have a more serious problem on your hands. But before jumping for a new kettle, check the thermostat of the kettle.
Sometimes components of the thermostat can get melted. A malfunctioning thermostat can be an easy fix that will be discussed in the next section.
You may need to replace the thermostat
A malfunctioning switch system could indicate that there is an issue with the kettle’s thermostat. The thermostat of the kettle is responsible for interacting with the mechanism that turns the kettle on and off as necessary.
How does a kettle know when to turn off? The thermostat.
Before writing your kettle off as damaged for good, keep in mind that your solution may just be a minor repair – with a kettle thermostat replacement.
One potential reason that the thermostat is not operating correctly is that the pin has been melted. This is an easy-to-repair problem.
You can find replacement thermostats for kettles online. These are affordable replacement parts.
Of course, replacement thermostats are not universally compatible. Make sure to check with the manufacturer of your kettle to determine which specific replacement part you need.
Electric kettle thermostat repair
How to repair electric kettle thermostat:
- Use a #2 Phillips Screwdriver to unscrew the handle, which often houses the thermostat in kettles
- Check to see if one of the pins has melted in the thermostat
- If the pin is the problem, you may be able to find this piece separately
- Better still – Get a kettle thermostat replacement: Thermostats for kettles are pretty cheap, so replacing the entire thermostat unit won’t be a strain on your budget
A multimeter can help you diagnose problems with your kettle
Multimeters can help you find out what is wrong with your kettle, as is seen in this video. If your kettle is not turning on and shutting off as it should, a multimeter will help you narrow your problem down to one of a few possible causes.
Issues with kettles are often related to some broken piece in the power supply, or a malfunctioning heating element or thermostat.
The multimeter tells you which component is the problem by measuring the voltage through an isolated component.
Multimeters are also affordable, as you can see with this particular multimeter available at Amazon. A multimeter will help you work on an array of projects beyond troubleshooting your electric kettle.
As I mentioned above, if your kettle is not that old (and the problem persists), check the manufacturer’s warranty to see if you qualify for a replacement unit. If it is an electrical problem within the kettle, and it’s out of warranty, it might be time to get yourself a new kettle from a reputable brand.