Kettles and toasters tend to develop faults more quickly than other small kitchen appliances, but you’d be surprised how many common faults you can fix at home.
We’ve rounded up the most common faults kettle and toaster owners experience within the first five years of ownership, according to our recent survey.*
Read on to find out what could be causing each problem and whether or not it’s worth attempting to repair it yourself at home, or if it’s something you should leave to the professionals.
The three most common kettle faults
Below, we outline the three main kettle faults uncovered by our survey, as well as some handy hints and tips on how you might be able to fix them. Remember that before attempting any DIY fixes, you should always:
- Check whether tampering with your appliance will void its warranty
- Switch off and unplug your kettle
- Make sure you have the necessary tools to hand.
1. Faulty lid
Out of all of the survey respondents that had issues with their kettle within the first five years, 19% of them experienced some kind of problem with the lid. This includes the lid becoming difficult to open, popping open while boiling and even failing to open whatsoever.
Here’s what you can try if this happens to you:
- Replace the springs If the lid is failing to open when you push the button, it’s most likely the springs are causing the problem. You can access these by detaching the lid with a screwdriver, then it’s simply a case of removing and replacing them.
- Lubricate the seal For a lid that refuses to open, it’s worth trying to see if some kind of oil will help to dislodge it. Start with something such as vegetable or olive oil, as this is safe to ingest. Grip the handle with a tea towel and make a twisting motion to try and loosen the lid.
2. Limescale problems
Limescale-related problems accounted for 12% of the kettle faults reported by owners, which is hardly surprising considering more half of the UK is classed as living in a hard-water area.
If you’re having issues with limescale in your kettle (the spout becoming blocked or chalky deposits being left in hot drinks, for example) the first thing you want to do is give the kettle a good clean. There are several different methods you can try, so head to our guide on how to descale your kettle for more information.
You can prevent limescale from building up in your kettle by using filtered water rather than tap water, as this will remove some of the minerals that cause water to become ‘hard’. It’s also a good idea to regularly descale your kettle and make sure that you empty out the water after every use.
3. Issues with auto cut-off
If your kettle keeps switching on or off during use, you’re not alone – 12% of survey respondents who experienced a fault with their kettle told us that this had happened to them. In a couple of brands, this accounted for half of the total number of faults reported.
If your kettle keeps boiling and doesn’t switch off by itself, you should double-check that the lid is closed properly. If the lid is even slightly open, steam will escape from the top and prevent the thermostat from reaching the necessary temperature to activate the auto shut-off.
Kettles switching on unexpectedly is a more serious problem, as this could pose a fire risk if there’s no water in them. If this happens to you, unplug your kettle so it can’t happen again – you may have a faulty thermostat, which is impossible to fix yourself.
To reduce your chances of experiencing any of these issues, take a look at the top kettles for 2021 to see which brand came out on top
Other kettle problems to look out for
We’ve covered the most frequently-encountered kettle issues above, but there are other problems you should be aware of including:
- Faulty on/off switch
- Broken limescale filter
- Faulty appearance.
Outside of these faults, most other kettle owners in our survey reported a complete failure of their model, so there was no way that it could be fixed.
If this happens to you, be sure to dispose of your kettle correctly. Some stores will take in old and broken models, and dispose of them for you, or you can head down to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.
Take a look at our Best Buy kettles to find out which models scored the highest in our independent lab tests
The three most common toaster faults
Our recent survey has revealed that toasters are slightly more likely than kettles to develop some kind of fault within the first five years of ownership. As with kettles, you shouldn’t attempt any serious electrical work unless you’re a trained professional.
1. Inconsistent performance
By far the most common problem encountered by our survey respondents, inconsistent toaster performance accounted for a whopping 38% of reported issues. This can cover issues such as uneven browning and differences in colour on each side of the bread.
Sadly, there’s no hard and fast fix to this. Often fiddling with the settings will produce slightly better results, but be sure to keep a close eye on your toaster if you decide to do this to avoid accidently burning your bread to a crisp.
It’s always worth checking whether or not your toaster is still in its warranty period and contacting your manufacturer for a replacement if it is.
2. Faulty pop-up function
A faulty pop-up function covers a myriad of problems, such as the lever failing to move bread down into the toasting slot and toast not popping up when it’s ready. Not only is this inconvenient, but it could become dangerous if you have to risk burning yourself to prise items out.
Pop-up issues accounted for almost a quarter of problems among our survey respondents and some brands were affected much more than others.
Your best bet to try and fix this issue is by giving your toaster a thorough clean. Often, crumbs can sneak into the mechanism and stop things working as they should. If this doesn’t work, the spring that operates the lever might have slipped or broken so will need to be replaced.
3. The elements have stopped working
One out of five toaster owners that reported a fault in our survey blamed it on problems with one or more of the elements. This is usually along the lines of the heating element failing to warm up, so bread comes out completely uncooked.
If this happens, it usually means your heating element has blown and this isn’t something you can repair at home unless you’re a qualified electrician. It can also point to an issue with the thermostat, but again we wouldn’t recommend trying to replace this yourself.
Find out which brands owners would recommend to a friend by heading to our top toaster brands for 2021
Other toaster problems to look out for
There’s a very limited list of toaster problems that you’ll actually be able to successfully fix at home, and sadly most of the other common issues we discovered in our survey would need to be looked at by a professional.
- Electrical issues
- Product malfunctions
- Complete failure.
Dealing with a faulty appliance is frustrating, but depending on how long you’ve owned it, you may be able to get a refund if it was unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described. Read our guide to the Consumer Rights Act to find out more about your right to a repair or replacement.
* Survey of 6,858 toaster owners and 9,103 kettles owners on the Which? Connect panel in April 2021.