The Top 6 Reasons Why Your Kettle Turns Itself On

kettle boiling

Don’t worry, your kettle is not possessed. But this is a potentially dangerous defect. Learn more about how you can find and fix the problem.

Several things can make a kettle switch itself on. These include a failing or faulty switches, dry-boiling, an open lid, a broken thermostat or limescale.

When your kettle keeps boiling, things are not safe. Here’s how to troubleshoot your appliance and stop things from getting worse.

The Top 6 Reasons Why Kettles Switch Themselves On

Needless to say, it can be alarming when you realize that your kettle is doing this. Some kettles switch themselves on while others never switch off and that is just as dangerous. When your kettle misbehaves in this manner, it is essential to find out what is going on and fix the problem as soon as possible.

The top 6 reasons why your kettle switches on (or won’t switch off once it boils) include the following scenarios:

  1. A lid that is not properly closed.
  2. Limescale is interfering with the kettle’s functions.
  3. The On/Off switch is faulty.
  4. Dry-boiling the kettle too many times.
  5. There is a problem with the thermometer.
  6. The power switch is blocked in some way.

How To Deal With A Kettle’s Lid

Let’s check the easiest problem first. Sometimes, when we boil a kettle we are in a hurry or not paying attention. Very often, we fail to press the lid down properly and when this is the case, even the best kettle is bound to keep on boiling. Just make sure that your kettle’s lid is securely closed the next time you make some tea.

top down view of kettle

Photo credit © creativecommonsstockphotos

How Do I Know If Limescale Is The Problem?

Look for the following signs:

  • A whitish layer is wrapped around your kettles exposed element or lining the metal bottom.
  • There is crusty white stuff clinging to the element.
  • You notice white flakes in your tea or coffee.
  • Your favourite brew no longer tastes as good. In fact, the water tastes horrible.
  • You live in a hard water area.

When limescale builds up too much inside a kettle, it can interfere with the automatic On/Off mechanism. You can easily get rid of limescale by using equal parts of vinegar and water. Fill the kettle with the vinegar solution and let it stand overnight. You should be able to wipe the limescale off the next morning. Just remember to give your kettle a good rinse afterwards to get rid of the last limescale and vinegar smell.

A good idea is to descale your kettle like this once a month to avoid limescale from building up again. You can also grab our tips on how to clean your hard water kettle.

How To Deal With A Faulty On/Off Switch

After you have checked every other avenue and you cannot find the fault, then it is probably a malfunctioning On/Off switch. The damage is usually on the inside where the signs won’t be so obvious. Another giveaway that you are dealing with a damaged On/Off switch is when the kettle switches itself on (not just boils for eternity after you switched it on).

The bad news is that fixing this type of fault is not something the casual DIY person should attempt. Not only is it potentially dangerous but attempting to repair it yourself could ruin your warranty if you have one. For this reason, if you suspect that the internal switch is damaged and your kettle is covered by a guarantee, rather see if you can get the appliance replaced. 

Find the best toaster and kettle sets.

Avoid Dry-Boiling Your Kettle

The term “dry-boiling” is a little misleading. It almost sounds as if the kettle is switched on without any water inside. While this technically counts, the term really refers to the event when there is water in the kettle but it is below the minimum required amount. When you switch on the appliance, the kettle often senses that there is not enough water and the dry-boil protection feature kicks in. 

When a kettle’s dry-boil feature works, it switches the kettle off. But when it malfunctions, it does the opposite and switches the kettle on. What causes this reversed insanity? The main reason is dry-boiling the kettle too many times and unfortunately, the damage is usually permanent. You need to replace the feature or get a new kettle.

There Is A Problem With The Thermometer

The thermostat directly influences the mechanism that turns a kettle on or off. An experienced electrician can check the kettle for a faulty thermostat but you can also try and fix this yourself. The most common issue with a kettle’s thermostat is when the heat melts the main pin. Here is how to check the pin.

screw driver and screws

Step 1: Make sure that repairing the kettle yourself does not cancel any warranties on your appliance. 

Step 2: Empty the kettle of water and dry the inside. You are going to be tipping it over or hold it sideways and you do not want the water to dribble everywhere. 

Step 3: Next, unscrew the screws that hold the heating element. If you turn it around, you should be able to see the thermostat pin.

Step 4: Loosen the screw or screws of the panel that holds the pin in place.

Step 5: Remove the pin carefully but if you have to clip off one end to remove it, then that is also fine. 

Step 6: Replace it with a new thermostat pin.

Step 7: Put everything back together again, making sure that the screws are properly tightened. 

Step 8: Fill the kettle with water and test to see if the repairs fixed the problem.

You can also have a look at the best candy thermometers.

Check To See If The Power Switch Is Blocked By Something

Plenty of things can obstruct the power switch. An insect could have crawled in there and gotten stuck. Junior could have smushed some bubble gum in there (you never know). The only thing to do is to carefully inspect the power switch to see if there might be something stuck under the lever. If so, it explains why the kettle has difficulty working normally. Simply remove the offending item and your kettle should be as good as new.

A Quick Summary On Why Kettles Switch Themselves On/Stay On

  • A kettle with this type of problem is potentially dangerous and should be looked at immediately.
  • Do not use the kettle until the problem is fixed. 
  • There are several causes that could make kettles switch themselves on (or fail to switch off when they boil).
  • The most common reasons include an open lid, an obstructed power switch, a faulty On/Off switch, a broken thermostat, too much limescale is interfering with the On/Off switch or allowing your kettle to dry-boil too often. 
  • Some of the problems can be fixed at home. These include things like lid issues, preventing dry-boiling, descaling the kettle, and checking for a possible obstruction within the power switch.
  • Other issues are more serious and should be looked at by an electrician or the kettle should be replaced.

About the Author Harry Thompson

Gaining a BSc Honours in building/ property maintenance at the University of Portsmouth Harry went into the field of renovating properties. Along the journey, he has developed a wide variety of home & garden DIY skills such as installing new kitchens and landscaping gardens.