/ Home & Energy

Does your kettle make your blood boil?

Leaks, loud noises, sticky lids – these are just a few of the problems you can run into with your kettle. Our testing helps weed out models prone to these issues, but which kettle problems really get on your nerves?

Kettles are an everyday product that many of us take for granted, yet they certainly inspire strong opinions among Which? members.

In fact, we get more reviews posted about kettles than almost any other product we test. Those reviews give us a wealth of insight into what you do and don’t like about kettles, which we’ve then used to improve our lab testing.

Your top 5 kettle complaints

Unclear and hidden water gauges were your fifth most common complaint with kettles, while difficult lids you struggle to open came in fourth. As a result of your feedback, we’ve changed the way we assess the water gauges on kettles, so that kettles with big, clear windows on either side are rated more highly.

Kettles which stay on once the kettle’s boiled – wasting energy in the process – were your third most common bugbear. So every kettle we test now has an ‘overboil’ rating, which also feeds into our test scores.

Noisy kettles are the second most common source of irritation to many of you, so we made noise levels a more important factor in determining a kettle’s overall test score.

But by far the most common complaint we get is about kettles that leak. As this is almost always a fault that develops over time, we can’t always tell from testing alone which kettles are most likely to leak a year or two down the line. But what we can do is survey thousands of small appliance owners every year to find out how reliable the big kettle brands really are.

What’s your biggest bugbear?

Personally, what I find most annoying is not being able to see how much water is in the kettle or the kettle having a high minimum fill level. I’m a stickler for waste, so I only like to boil as much water as I need. I recently bought a Best Buy kettle that has a really clear water gauge and can boil as little as one cup at a time and it’s been worth every penny so far.

So which of the above kettle complaints annoy you the most? Are there any issues I haven’t mentioned that really get your goat?

What is your biggest kettle bugbear?

Noisy kettles (30%, 141 Votes)

Leaky kettles (20%, 92 Votes)

Kettles that continue to heat water after boiling point (16%, 75 Votes)

Difficult lids (15%, 71 Votes)

Poor or unclear water gauges (11%, 50 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (8%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 469

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Comments

With regard to boiling water and the correct temperature for the task I find putting some cold water from the tap ahead of adding the boiling water works wonders.

Just to return to the Quooker, which is expensive, however it does save energy, time and costs. For instance pasta cooking requires water to boil before being added for cooking. For me I walk to the Q. put in a litre or so of boiling water into the pan onto the hob and add the pasta.

I have saved time, I have saved the energy necessary to bring the water to boil, and reduced the amount of steam vented into the kitchen. When I say I have saved energy to boil the water it is in an enclosed system, the high efficiency thermal lining apparently keeps the water at boiling on the energy of a lightbulb. I never use more water than I need to fill cups for drinks and I am not limited much by the capacity as to the number of people I can make a drink for at the same time.

What does go against it is the capital cost and the installation. However for the elderly it would seem quite handy as no heavy lifting of boiling water or kettle filling is required. As for dripping spout or room on the worktop dictated by plugs you are freed from them.

Apparently Which? has looked at them though the linked page is no longer available – this from MumsNet
“Have a look at the which website. http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/kettles/page/faqs/
…………….. It is also immeasurably safer than using the kettle (did you know that 60 people a day are scalded by kettles in the UK, and thats just the ones reported to ROSPA!).

I hate kettles that don’t pour neatly. Features I like are :- Easy to aim and control the flow. No dribbling.

I use a “no brand”, made in China (Woolworths). All the ratings issues do not apply. But (and there is always a BUT), the damn thing dribbles more than an old man standing against the wall. Pour then wipe dry….

R.Clark says:
13 November 2012

We have the kettle that you have placed in the Headings. I can Judge now how much water I need for two cups of tea/coffee. The problem is when I need more than two cups. At 4 cups, the handle is so hot, one has to be careful to check how hot, before grasping it, to pour water.

Sheila says:
25 November 2012

I have just returned a Prestige kettle after 6 months as it was leaking. I had an inkling that there would be a problem as when I bought the kettle the man in front of me was returning a different make and was refused a replacement as the manager said the kettles weren’t guaranteed unless descaled regularly. However, we don’t have a problem with lime scale as our water is very soft.
Took the kettle back and was told that it was my fault as kettle hadn’t been descaled. There was the finest layer of scale on the bottom of the heat plate. I asked how this made a kettle leak, as I genuinely don’t understand it.
The manager said on this occasion he would replace it- I asked if there were any better kettles and the answer was no and it doesn’t matter how much you pay.
The situation seems bizarre to me that all of these companies make the same type of kettles which are essentially not fit for purpose and potentially dangerous. You are right that this subject makes our blood boil!

I would be interested to know if the instructions actually say that failure to descale the kettle will invalidate the warranty.

It is standard practice for retailers to deny any responsibility for goods that are over a year old and even say that the Sale of Goods Act does not apply, but I have never heard of anyone refusing to deal with a fault in a product that is less than a year old.

You have achieved more than the previous customer, so if you have further problems it would be good to be prepared to outwit the store manager and make it very clear that you know your rights.

My top tip for dealing with unhelpful store managers is to go back when someone else is on duty.

I’m having difficulties with this – I’ve never had a “leaky kettle” in over 60 years – though have had kettle elements that have broken after say 10 years use and either i could not obtain a replacement element or they weren’t replaceable.

In addition I have never had a request for any product replacement refused provided it was within the warranty period.

As far as I’m concerned the length of the warranty is a contract for that length of time – no more – so even if it is just say a week over – the warranty is void.

Leaks around water level indicators seems to be the main problem, Richard. Old kettles did not have plastic windows on their sides.

The Sale of Goods Act is intended to provide the consumer with protection after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. See, for example, the advice from Which?
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/sale-of-goods/understanding-the-sale-of-goods-act/your-rights/

All these issues with new kettles. Our old ceramic kettle with the coiled wire elements is still working quietly with no leak she or drips 50 or 60 at years of age. It’s poor engineering, design and manufacture in new kettles. Or is it just planned
obsolescence?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Wavechange – I know why they leak – I haven’t had one that HAD water level indicators that leaked.

Equally – as I said AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED the warranty is a contract for a specific period – no more – The cost of maintaining that “unlimited” warranty for ALL – explains why so many manufacturers go bust with a consequent increase in unemployment.

If you want to waive your rights that’s fine, Richard.

You seem to get very good life out of appliances, judging from your past posts. So do I . I’m sure that being careful helps. Put yourself in the place of someone who has a washing machine (or some other expensive appliance) fail shortly after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. You know as well as I do that build quality isn’t always as good as it should be. That’s why we have the Sale of Goods Act.

I have put myself in such a place – The agreement I signed with the manufacturer gave me a 1 year warranty – the device broke down after 13 months – 1 MORE month than a year – So it wasn’t covered. I was taught to honour contracts.

Interesting about being careful – I wonder why you don’t extol posters to be far more careful – rather than forcing manufactures to increase their manufacturing costs.? I am really getting tired of the me me me culture of the Tories.

Your contract is with the retailer unless you purchased the goods from the manufacturer. They have rights too, and faulty goods will not normally be repaired or replaced if there is evidence that an item has been misused. In the case of a kettle, that could include dropping it, wetting electrical connections, damaging the flex, or damage caused by switching it on when empty (though a kettle should be able to survive this on an occasional basis).

If the circumstances arise I will extol posters to be more careful, but do remember that we are frequently reminded not to criticise individuals.

Jason Judge says:
22 October 2013

Your sale of good act is with the retailer, so it must be fit for purpose. Written warranties beyond a reasonable period, would they not be more likely to be supplied and honoured by the manufacturer, depending of course on where you purchased it?

Manufacturers, as a rule, are always trying to lower production cost by using cheaper components and out-sourcing. There is not much in the way of a countering factor other than legislation to ensure a degree of reasonable life and a knowledgeable customer base. Unfortunately advertising can persuade many to buy the less good article, particularly if there is no ready access to good information.

That is perhaps why repair, length of guarantee, and long term reputation need to be highlighted in reviews. Perhaps Which? should be default say whether an item is non-repairable or repairable. There are many here who are against the throw-away culture.

I very much agree with your points, but recognise that there has been a big move towards replacement rather than repair.

I had a Breville kettle that died when it was a few months old. I took off the plastic base and established that the heater was open-circuit and it was not a trivial fault that I could have fixed easily. The heater was welded in place, so neither I or a professional could have repaired the kettle. In the past the ‘element’ could have been changed by a repairer or myself.

I took the kettle back to the shop and it was replaced without question. Hopefully the old one was recycled rather than put into landfill.

Though it would be good to be able to fix my own kettle or get a repair shop to do this, having the heater below the base is much better than old-fashioned kettles with an element that must be covered with water and need more frequent descaling.

There are not many kettle spares available beyond limescale filters, and elements and seals for obsolete models. Information about how easy it is to replace consumable parts (e.g. brushes and filters on vacuum cleaners) or limescale filters on kettles is useful, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to assess how repairable products might be.

You are right in saying that manufacturers use cheaper components to save money. In consumer electronics this is nothing new and I have repaired many items using more appropriate components.

I am concerned that it is very difficult for the consumer to make claims under the Sale of Goods Act and feel that Which? should be strongly promoting products that offer longer parts & labour warranties. If the manufacturer is responsible for repairing or replacing items that have failed, I think we could see much more durable products.

jolby says:
9 March 2013

BREVILLE illuminating kettles when the lights go off after a short while and you’ve payed a high price for them!
I’ve owned 6 in as many years and the lights never last and they leak or fail to turn off!

Carolyn says:
19 May 2013

Something currently driving me up the wall as I try to buy a new kettle is finding one that, when you open the lid, water does not immediately run off the underside of the lid and down the outside of the kettle. This run off is clearly due to condensation from the previous boiling of the kettle – but isn’t that what kettles are for??!!

If you fill the kettle through the spout, you will not need to remove the lid except when descaling the kettle.

I’m no expert on this as I have a good old fashioned kettle-shaped kettle with a (thankfully) easy-to-lift lid, but ……..

I’m given to understand that most modern kettles have some sort fo filter thingy in the spout, to catch bits of scale, etc, in the kettle and stop them pouring into your tea …. if you fill through the spout won’t that leave bits on the wrong side of the filter?

I understand Carolyn’s frustration though …. my ancient(1976) Swan Automatic kettle doesn’t do this, but at work there are several kettles, including a Russell Hobbs and a number of ultra-cheap supermarket hobbies, which all have this problem.

If it’s any help, there is one Breville one at work that has a hinged lid and doesn’t appear to have this issue.

Good luck!

The scale is produced by boiling water, Dave. I have never seen any trapped on the outside of a filter. Many filters are too fine and make it slow to fill. My current Breville kettle has a stainless steel filter that is relatively coarse, but sufficient to trap scale. The filter also removable and can be brushed clean.

Simply holding the lid at an angle will allow the condensate to drain before lifting off the lid, which is another way of getting round the minor inconvenience of a dripping lid.

I’m glad to hear that your vintage kettle is still on the go.

Carolyn says:
19 May 2013

Hi – I am filling the kettle from a water filter not a tap – very hard water that leaves a nasty scummy taste in the tea if I don’t use the filtered water! I have to open the lid to fill the kettle as otherwise the water goes everywhere. .

Our last kettle was a bullet shape and that lid didn’t drip. Unfortunately I am struggling to find one that is similarly well designed. Thanks for the tip on Breville, I will investigate..

Marion Hart says:
19 July 2013

I have been refused a replacement kettle(leaking) as I had not descaled it. It was purchased 2 months ago! I also had a lecture by the assistant on the perils of not descaling every 3 weeks. I argued the case for 5 mins did not get anywhere so have had to buy another kettle elsewhere. I have contacted the head office customer service who seem to agree with me that this is bizarre and are now investigating.This is a very large company one wonders where their staff get their advice from.

Carol R says:
8 October 2013

I had a kettle that started leaking after less than 6 months. The shop no longer stock the same model and the nearest model to the leaky one cost twice as much. Can the shop expect me to pay the difference when the kettle was faulty and it isn’t my fault that they don’t stock the same one anymore?

I don’t know the law very well, but reading the amendments to the Sale of Goods Act on this page:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/54#commentary-c1108938

I think you could be covered under 48B(4)(a). Viz. if the kettle conformed at the time of purchase, it would now be worth twice as much as it was then (because that’s how much similar kettles cost), therefore it would not be unreasonable for you to require a replacement instead of just a refund. However, you may instead be offered a repair.

I bought a Breville Kettle ( Aurora VKJ741 ) about three weeks ago and is shape, speed, noise performance, colour are all great. I looked for a kettle that was metal to avoid any plastic contamination but water has begun to taste contaminated. We are in a soft water area. Does any one have a fix apart from changing the kettle ?

It seems very strange that the kettle was OK to start with and has now developed a problem. Does it help to empty out water that has been in the kettle overnight?

I too use a stainless steel Breville kettle and have experienced the same problem as ‘current’ with a strange metallic taste but only if I reboil the water or as Wavechange has intimated I have failed to empty it before refilling. On referring to the instruction booklet however in the energy saving hints and tips section it says “It is not always necessary to reboil your kettle. For example one litre of water will still be at 90oC after 5 minutes – the perfect temperature for a cup of coffee.”
It also states not to refill it through the spout but as I live in a hard water area I always use a water filter which is very effective in removing any limescale. The only ‘gripe’ I have is the lid does incline to stick and I have to make sure it is firmly attached to prevent hot steam escaping and scalding my hand when pouring.

I have a metal Breville kettle and deliberately fill it through the spout to help keep the filter clear. As a mere man I’m not good at reading instructions. 🙂

I have just emptied out half a cup of scale but there is not enough stuck to the walls or base of the kettle to make it worthwhile. It’s so much easier than when kettles had an element that became furred up in no time.

Wavechange: A water filter will remove 99% of the scale before it enters the kettle hence it does away with the need to descale. Problems arise when attempting to fill the kettle through the spout from the water filter – which is why I usually resort to filling it through the top but it does make for a much nicer cuppa!

I agree Beryl. I stopped drinking tea when I moved to a hard water area in 1980. Not only did it taste horrible but there was a scum on the top of each cup.

I prefer to drink coffee and have the possible health benefits of hard water. Unless water filters have improved, they don’t just remove calcium salts, the cause of limescale.

I do enjoy a nice cup of tea when I am in a soft water area, and a shower in soft water is lovely.

KEVIN BURKE says:
21 August 2015

Hi,
Ref, breville VKJ741aurora, I purchased this kettle about 3 weeks ago, I have been going crazy blaming water company for to much chlorine in the water, But have just realised it is the KETTLE to blame, What a horrible taste from this kettle, I think breville should take this product and sort out the problem as I have just read reviews about the same problem happening in 2014?
This kettle will be going back as soon as I find my receipt. VERY ANNOYED.

Kevin – There are a couple of more recent Conversations about this problem. To find the most recent one, search for: ‘Why kettle water tastes funny: mystery (nearly) solved’

It looks as if chlorine in the water might be the culprit. That can’t be removed because it keeps our water free from bacteria – in fact better than bottled water.

It’s up to kettle manufacturers to tackle the problem and produce kettles that are fit for their purpose. Returning ones that are faulty will help to encourage this to happen. Don’t forget that your contract is with the retailer that sold you the kettle rather than the manufacturer.

Best of luck.

Thank you for your email regarding your kettle VKJ741

We are sorry to hear of the problem you have experienced with your kettle and extend our apologies on behalf of the company.

The very kind people at Breville wrote.
We would advise filling the kettle ¾ full , boil then add 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate soda, leave to stand overnight, discard the water re-boiling a couple of more times to get rid of any bicarbonate residue. If this does not work then we would advise returning the kettle to place of purchase for replacement with your receipt, please note that you do not need the packaging to return the item to your retailer

Sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused

Many thanks ‘current’ I will certainly try this and report back any positive or negative results.

I have just bought a new kettle which has a stainless base and plastic walled inner. Can anyone tell me what is the strange looking globules that are appearing inside and sticking to the walls in what can only be described and being like a layer of fat. I am cleaning out the kettle daily to get rid of this and have used Lemon juice and vinegar which bring s it off nicely for it only to return after a few uses. I have come across this problem before, a friends plastic lined kettle did the same but it stopped after a few weeks use. But it does worry me as to what this is and what it is doing to my families insides.

Liz – Very interesting and indeed worrying. Feel free to mention the brand and model number as it helps to know if your kettle is unique or it is a common problem.

It does sound very odd.

Taking the worst possible view getting trace elements from plastics is a concern and whilst I have faith that EU made kettles would be using good plastics I am afraid experience shows that in China the substitution of cheaper parts /raw material is a problem.

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/

It is indeed a kettle made in China by the NINGB Food Friends Electrical Appliances Company 🙂 The model is HHB 1719. I found the website and I have messaged them but I am not holding by breath for a reply. This does concern me and the kettle is being put away until I get more information as to what is going on with it. I am glad now that I kept my old stainless steel kettle as a spare and it will be brought back into service for the time being. Thank you for any help you can give with this problem – Liz

http://www.made-in-china.com/showroom/goodfriends

I think it is actually Goodfriends in Ningbo but it could be someone spoofing or misusing a similar name to confuse. Your recourse is to the vendor in the UK rather than the manufacturer which should make life easier : )

So who sold it to you? I

Some plastics can release materials over time, especially the plasticisers added to prevent them being brittle. This is most obvious when plastics are new and the smell of a new car is an example. The amount of material released is small, so I don’t think that’s an explanation for the globules in Liz’s kettle.

It’s a good idea to empty water that has been standing in kettles overnight, particularly when they are new. That will get rid of any chemicals that have leached out of the plastic.

I don’t like plastic kettles and fan heaters, where there is a powerful heater in a plastic case. There’s often only a single safety device to protect against overheating and fire.

I actually live in Greece, so taking it back to the shop is a no, no as they will point blank refuse to do anything about it. It is Good Friends, I did not notice that I had mis-keyed ,sorry about that. I may well try the shop but I am pretty sure they will do nothing. Thanks for your help, if I get a response from the manufacturer I will let you know. In the meantime I will not be using this kettle.

Ian says:
5 April 2015

I have a Breville VKJ386 Kettle, now just over three years old. It’s stainless steel. The first six months of usage I filled it with tap water. But, because tap water is heavily chlorinated and, in our area, hard and scaly and resulted in vile cups of tea and coffee, I turned to using bottled spring water. Granted, bottled water will work out considerably more expensive – I use a supermarket own brand at 45p/2 liters – but you get a great tasting cuppa and at about 8 pence a mug for the cost of water, I consider it worth it. I’d also say that chemicals, whether generated by tap, or from the coating, or plastic on kettles can only be considered harmful to health, so 8p is a small price to pay to stay healthy!
Now to leaks… My Kettle developed a leak in its plastic window, after about 5 months. This also pushed me to turn to bottled water. I worked out pretty quickly, that the leak is three quarters of the way up the window, so by only half filling the Kettle, it avoids leakage and hence, I have lived with the problem.
I have been debating on buying another Kettle, but sadly, with all the likely faults I will encounter, no matter what make and model I buy, I shall be persevering with Old Leaky, until it dies completely. What I’ll do then, I’m not sure!

Clive eden says:
4 May 2015

We purchased a kettle filed it and used it ok, tried it his morning and it’s cutting out before it has boiled????

If it’s new, take it back and ask for a replacement. It’s best not to interfere with it in any way.

Maggie says:
10 May 2015

Bought new kettle and the tea tastes metallic
I have tried bicarb in the kettle I have tried salt
But nothing works so far only bought it a month
Ago have had the water tested and drank so
How to prove to the shop where I bought this from
Any ideas please

kettle user says:
18 June 2015

hello

can which test kettles for steam leaking out of the handle?
i always burn my hand when pouring water, because steam comes out of the gap between the lid and handle
it’s a very bad design

Ouch! Do take care when pouring the water from your kettle, kettle user. Thanks for sharing your comments too, I’ll be sure to pass the feedback to our Research Team for their consideration.

If you’re thinking of replacing it, why not have browse through our top easy-to-use kettles:

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/staying-independent-at-home/reviews-ns/easy-to-use-home-and-tech-products/easy-to-use-kettles/