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How long do you expect your kitchen appliances to last?

Faulty household appliances

You’ve bought a new small home appliance, it didn’t cost a great deal but it’s developed a fault. Do you take it back and complain, or do you just resign it to the recycling pile?

We buy more than 59 million small electrical products each year (yes, that’s a lot of kettles and toasters) and while the majority of the work as promised, others miss the mark.

In our latest small appliances reliability survey we reveal the brands that you’ve said are most reliable. Our results have also shown that you expect your small kitchen appliances (that’s your toaster, kettle, coffee machine, breadmaker, food processor or stand mixer, and iron) to last longer than they actually do.

Reliable kitchen appliance favourites

My favourite, the toaster, for example is expected to put in more than eight years of hard-toasting-graft, when in reality most last around five and a half years. Stand mixers last around 10 years, according to the data you’ve provided us with, but you expect them to last double that. And when it comes to the large scale appliances, some of you have experience of very long-serving appliances.

But are our expectations for small appliances too high, and why do we expect them to last so long?

Have we been brought up on long-lasting sturdy appliances that have stood the test of time or are we now a nation of time-saving gadget loves that rely on a kitchen full of small electrical to help with breakfast, rather than using the trusty cooker hob and grill to boil the kettle and toast the bread.

Great expectations of gadgets

Of all the product areas we survey, quite a few are actually fairly reliable. With irons for example, there isn’t much difference in reliability between the brands we asked about. Food processors have a good shelf life as do stand mixers.

Toasters have better reliability than maybe a lot of us would expect (we get a lot of member comments on toasters via our customer reviews tab) . Your feedback usually relates to the evenness of toasting and performance, rather than actual faults

Kettles seem to be the main culprit for inconsistent reliability, and this is one product that we replace quite a bit, and quite quickly after it breaks, not surprising really considering 95% of you own one. Maybe we just can’t cope without a cuppa.

So, what do you think about small appliance reliability? Has your toaster broken in the middle of breakfast, or did your kettle  cut out just as you were desperate for a cuppa. Tell us about your reliable appliances and which ones have lasted the test of time.

Little Ben says:
25 August 2013

Electric kettles don’t seem to me very reliable. One developed a leak after 3 years, the leak being at the spout to main body connection, latest one the black plastic knob on the stainless steel lid has developed a crack on the outer circumference. Oh and in connection with other recent discussions it is far too noisy.

Liz says:
22 May 2017

Do not buy Russell Hobbs kettles! Some of them get very good reviews but they do not last long like mine.
I am very disappointed with their glass kettle model 15082. It did not even last full two years without malfunctioning. I hate the idea of trowing it away after such short period of time and increasing landfill.

I bought my kettle on 20 October 2014. For nearly two years the kettle functioned really well until at the end of summer 2016 it began to malfunction; just would not start to boil. These occasion were more and more frequent but every time I managed the kettle by just moving it around the stand /base element. I did not have time to follow the issue and did not suspect that it may get worse. Unfortunately it got really worse; the kettle suddenly stopped working at all on the 6th of April 2017. A few days later I called customer services but was just told that because I purchased the kettle more than two years ago they cannot help me.

Most recently I have had the kettle examined by an independent technician, who strongly confirmed that the central pin at the bottom of the kettle was never properly attached therefore in time the pin started to recede and would not connect with the stand/base.

Shouldn’t Russell Hobbs be interested to examine the faulty product to find out what the problem was in order to improve the quality? Failure to do this indicates not only poor customer care but lack of interest in improving quality, lack of respect for the environment as items like this end up discarded.


Electric kettles: We’re on our fifth since January 2012. Two Dualit, whose lid hinges failed, a Kenwood, which lasted nearly a year, and a Bosch – a Which? recommended brand – which lasted 18 days. And we are a retired couple who do our best to be careful with our kettles! These kettles were all from John Lewis, who you would expect to stock decent equipment. Then (though we could have returned the Bosch to John Lewis under the original guarantee), we decided to try a Breville from Tesco. It’s lasted 6 weeks so far !

Stephen Baker says:
28 August 2013

We had problems with Dualit kettles and coffee percolators. Expensive and poor quality, although service from the company was good. (We got a free spare lid and seal for the percolator).
I EXPECT things to last for several years, so am often disappointed!!

muso1952 aka rock 'n roll pensioner says:
31 August 2013

I have exactly the same experience. It doesn’t seem to make a difference how well rated by Which or how expensive. They all fail. My own view is that modern kettles which have a flat bottom and claim you can boil one cup of water are doomed to fail simply because of the intensity of energy being transferred accross the base. I think it is a major issue for all the manufacturers. Whereas the older element type in the stainless steel containment run forever. I have one as a back up (30 years old). I have lost count of the number of modern kettles we have gone through. Having said that we bought the which recommended Bosch kettle, 6 months ago, a great kettle and looks the part too. So fingers crossed!!….but somehow……

Carlos says:
25 August 2013

We’re in a house share. Our kettles are usually the £7-£9 variety, which last about 8 months apiece. They only get replaced when the fine screen filter breaks/clogs or I immerse the entire kettle in water to wash it (it is never wiped down), and someone turns it on before it is completely dry resulting in a bust appliance.

Tuxwang says:
26 August 2013

You should never immerse the entire kettle in water to clean it! This will damage it!


I had a Swan kettle that was replaced only because it started to look scruffy when the paint started peeling after more than ten years. I then had a polished stainless steel Philips kettle which developed a small leak after more than ten years. I replaced this with a similar Breville stainless steel kettle. That failed in the guarantee period, but the replacement is a year or two old now.

Kettles should come with a ten year guarantee. Manufacturers would be forced to improve quality or face the cost of paying for repairs or replacement.


We host free community repair events, and of all of the broken small electrical appliances we see, kettles definitely win. Then come toasters and irons, but they are much less frequent. The saddest part of this is none of these appliances are economic to fix commercially, and there is no second-hand market for them. They are generating mountains and mountains of waste.


I’m impressed. I hope that those you who learn the skills to fix their own appliances make a contribution to your running costs and that you have insurance to cover your staff or volunteers in the event of an accident.

Small appliances have been uneconomic to fix for years but many can be repaired with time and patience. If the EU puts an environmental surcharge on new appliances, doing repairs will make even more sense.

Best of luck with the project.


One of the problems with trying to repair many modern items is the simple one of actually getting inside the things! All too often they are held together with adhesive or rivets, and if screws are used they usually of the tamper proof variety. I do have a fairly comprehensive range of drivers for tamper proof screws but Murphy’s law seems to ensure that the screw that needs to be undone has a brand new type of head!


This is the biggest problem for me. I have a fairly comprehensive tool kit but gave up earlier today and drilled out four screws. What does defeat me are the cases that are glued together.

At least we have digital cameras nowadays, so it’s not necessary to have notes or a good memory.


Thanks for the comments.

There are tricks for opening just about everything, and often it’s easier to get into devices when we share skills and tools. Although big screwdrivers sets are actually not that expensive. (Even though glued-together stuff is basically designed not to be repaired, guitar picks and heat applied carefully can work.)

As for Wavechange’s question, we are insured and have our own health and safety procedures. We’d like to keep community events free but we are looking for sponsorship, and we are rolling out other income-generating services to keep us ticking too.

As for Dieseltaylor’s suggestion about more emphasis on durability and repairability here on Which, we’d love to see that!