An electric kettle is a small, standalone appliance designed to boil water. As long as it’s plugged in, the kettle heats the water using a heating element controlled by a thermostat. It’s a basic and straightforward design, but because it’s so simple and most of the parts are internal, the exterior of the kettle will likely start to rust and look worn and stained if it’s not regularly cleaned.

There are several reasons why someone would choose to use an electric kettle instead of a pot. It’s easier to clean and doesn’t make a mess. It also takes up less space on the counter. If the kettle is tall enough, you can refill your coffee cup in the same space. If you’re partial to hot chocolate, you can also use the kettle instead of a pot to melt chocolate.

But today, we're here to talk about knowing when it's time to replace your kettle. As great as it can be, it's not immune to the ear and tear of time. Here are the signs you should look out for:

Stained Exterior

There are several kinds of stains on the exterior of a kettle. The first is the inevitable side stains. Splashes and spills cause them, and it’s not a big deal to clean them up, but it’s a good idea to wipe down the outside of the kettle with warm water and detergent at least once a week.

Melting Parts

Over time, the plastic can become brittle and melt. When that happens, it’s important to replace the plastic parts with new ones. But before you do, check to see if it’s the nylon-jacketed cord which has melted. If it is, you can usually buy a replacement cord for around $20.


If the kettle is leaking, it’s good to replace it. It will likely be more expensive to repair than to return, but its leaking means the heating element has likely been damaged. If the heating element is damaged, it will probably be a few years before the kettle will leak again.

Foul Odour

The heating element is made from copper, and copper is an ingredient in some foods. If you’ve boiled some type of food in your kettle, the heating element has corroded. As a result, you’ll likely notice a foul odour after it cools down. If this is the case, dispose of the kettle and get a new one.

Of course, you shouldn’t use a kettle that’s leaking. This can cause severe damage to your counter.

Heating Takes Forever

If your kettle takes forever to heat the water, it’s likely time to replace it. If the heating element has corroded, it will heat the water more slowly, and it will overheat, which means it will take longer to get the water to the right temperature. If your heating element has corroded, it might not be worth the expense to fix. When choosing a replacement, make sure it has the same amount of power as your old kettle. This will ensure your water is heated at a reasonable rate.

The Bottom Line

Electric kettles are an excellent way to boil water quickly. They are also reasonably priced and easy to clean. While there’s not much to worry about when it comes to determining if it’s time to replace the kettle, it’s a good idea to check the exterior and make sure it’s clean and that the cord doesn’t have any obvious signs of wear. If there’s any sign of it, replace it. In terms of the heating element, there’s not a good way to tell if it’s working as well. At this point, you’ll just have to wait to see if it leaks. If it does, replace it.

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June 13, 2023 — Paul Masterson