What Are the Dangers of Heating Elements in Electric Kettles?

Written by jennifer vanbaren
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What Are the Dangers of Heating Elements in Electric Kettles?
Electric kettles have automatic shut-off devices to protect the heating element -- and you. (pouring water image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

Electric kettles have slowly started replacing traditional hob kettles, because electric kettles generally heat faster and are thought to be safer and more efficient to operate. Typically, electric kettles are very safe to use, but they may hold some dangers as well. It is always important to read the manufacturer’s instructions prior to operating one.

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Safety Devices Inside an Electric Kettle

Most electric kettles come with two automatic safety devices that protect the heating element. These devices are triggered in the event that the kettle is inadvertently turned on with no water in it, or in the event that the kettle boils dry from running too long. The device turns the kettle off, to prevent the heating element from burning up. If the safety devices malfunction, the heating element could burn up and would need to be replaced. In rare cases, a fire could occur if the kettle is left unattended. Many electric kettles also come with a safety device that automatically shuts the kettle off once the water begins to boil. If this safety feature malfunctions, again the heating element can burn up, or a fire could occur.

Exposed or Concealed Heating Elements

Every electric kettle has a heating element. Some are exposed, meaning the heating element is in the tank directly where the water sits. This causes mineral build-up on the element that in time causes the element to malfunction. Other kettles have a concealed heating element. In this case, the element is sealed beneath the water chamber and the water never touches the element. If it doesn’t have a concealed heating element, the element should be cleaned regularly with vinegar and boiling water to clean off all the minerals.

Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

With each electric kettle purchased, the manufacturer includes a detailed instructional booklet. It is very important to follow all directions listed in the manual to avoid danger. With any electrical product, there’s always a chance of electrical malfunctions.

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