The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
July 28, 2011

How I Fixed My Broken Rice Cooker: The Complete Illustrated Instructions

broken rice cooker

Another day, another broken gadget.  Plastic-free rule #1 when something breaks is to try and fix it instead of replacing it. But that’s not always easy since so many appliances are built to be tossed instead of repaired.   Well Easy Schmeasy.  Fixing things is fun.  Saves money.  Makes you feel like a Super Hero instead of a victim.   A few weeks ago, I got to don my cape again after Michael plugged in the rice cooker and nothing happened.  The light didn’t come on.  The element didn’t heat up.   The rice did not get cooked.  But the wheels in my brain started turning.

(And before any of you leave comments about how we don’t need a rice cooker and could easily cook rice on the stove and here are the instructions how to do it etc etc… yeah, I know.  But we have a rice cooker.  And we like it.  And this one broke, so this is how we fixed it.)

See, back in 2008, the same thing happened to my hair dryer, and my dad helped me out with that situation.  After testing the circuits with his multimeter, he determined that the machine’s “thermal cutoff” needed to be replaced, and we visited an electronics shop, bought the part, and replaced it.  This time, though, I didn’t have access to my dad’s know-how or multimeter.  So I searched Craigslist to find someone who could help.  This ad caught my eye:

DID YOU D.I.Y. & GET INTO A JAM? CALL AL (berkeley)

Well, I hadn’t DIY’d yet. I was hoping to find someone to help me BEFORE I got into a jam. The ad described Al’s handyman skills… electrical jobs, carpentry, plumbing, even organic gardening. But this was the part that hooked me:

“A LIFELONG RECYCLER / REUSER OF SOUND USED MATERIALS WHEN AT ALL FEASIBLE. I PREFER TO REPAIR RATHER THAN REPLACE, WHEN AT ALL POSSIBLE.”

Me too! I contacted Al and related the story of my dead rice cooker.  He came over with his multimeter to check it out. Al figured out that just as with my old hair dryer,  the “thermal cutoff” (or fuse) needed to be replaced, and following his instructions, I was able to take over the job and purchase and install the part.

Of course, I took pictures every step of the way to share with you. So, here are the complete instructions, with illustrations. Keep them in case your rice cooker (or other electric appliance) suddenly stops working and you don’t know why. They could come in handy. And please, if any of you electronics geeks out there notice that I’m using the wrong terminology for some of this stuff, please let me know!

How to Fix Your Rice Cooker When the Thermal Fuse Breaks

1) Tools: Here are the tools I used for this job: Needle nose pliers, screwdriver, and metal cutter. (Note: If you have actual crimpers and want to replace the crimp connectors and know how to do it, you probably don’t need these instructions anyway. I used needle nose pliers and re-used the original crimp connectors.)

Needle nose pliers, screwdriver, and metal cutter

Al’s multimeter, which I forgot to take a picture of. But here’s a photo from the web:

Fluke multimeter

And of course, Craigslist.  Craigslist is a great tool whenever you want to avoid buying new plastic.

2) Unplug rice cooker from wall. (Do I really have to say that?)

3) Unscrew bottom screws and remove bottom.

broken rice cooker

broken rice cooker

4) Check to see if there is a thermal cutoff.  A thermal cutoff is like a fuse.  It breaks if the temperature in the machine goes over a certain threshold to prevent the machine from catching on fire.   Al pulled back the loose insulation covering the wires to find the thermal cutoff lurking inside.

broken rice cooker

5) Use the multimeter to test for continuity from one side of the thermal cutoff to the other. Read these great instructions for how to use a multimeter and how to test for continuity. Basically, you turn the multimeter knob to the continuity setting, place the needles on either side of the thermal cutoff, and listen for the beep. If the multimeter doesn’t beep, there’s no continuity, which means that the thermal cutoff needs to be replaced.  (There are other ways to test for continuity using a multimeter.  Read the links above for more information. Or check out this article: How to Test a Thermal Fuse, which explains alternate ways to find the fuse and test it.)

(If the multimeter does beep, then you have a different problem which is beyond the scope of these instructions. Basically, I have no idea.)

6) Remove the thermal cutoff.  In my rice cooker, one end of the cutoff was attached to one of the rice cooker wires with a metal crimp and the other end was crimped to a ring terminal and screwed onto the machine. Unscrew the ring terminal.

broken rice cooker

Uncrimp the other end and remove thermal cutoff. How you do that depends on the type of crimp, I guess. Mine is metal, and Al easily pried it apart and pulled the end of the thermal cutoff out of it.

broken rice cooker

7) Buy a new thermal cutoff. Call electronics stores and read them the numbers printed on the used cutoff to find out if they have the part you need. The most important number is the temperature. I bought mine from Al Lasher’s Electronics in Berkeley. Yes, it came in a plastic bag. But compare this plastic waste to disposing of a whole rice cooker. Big difference.

broken rice cooker

broken rice cooker

8) Disconnect the ring terminal from the old thermal cutoff. I just pried open the b-crimp with a screwdriver.

broken rice cooker
broken rice cooker

9) Bend both ends of the brand new thermal cutoff into a narrow U shape and trim off any excess with the metal cutters.
broken rice cooker

10) Fit it back inside the metal crimp connector and squeeze shut with the needle nose pliers.

broken rice cooker
broken rice cooker

11) Replace the other metal crimp connector around the other end of the thermal cutoff and the wire it was connected to inside the rice cooker.

broken rice cooker
broken rice cooker
broken rice cooker

12) Replace the wire insulation.

broken rice cooker

13) Screw the ring terminal back on.

broken rice cooker

14) Replace the bottom of the rice cooker.

broken rice cooker

15) Plug it in. Let there be light!

broken rice cooker

And of course, heat. The rice cooker works! Hurray and thanks to Allen Macri for all his help. If you live in the Bay Area and need the services of a handyman who is also an organic gardener and reuse advocate, contact Allen. ajpmac [at] comcast [dot] net or 510-815-7152.

Leave a Reply

59 Comments on "How I Fixed My Broken Rice Cooker: The Complete Illustrated Instructions"


Guest
Olan Aquino Francisco
4 months 11 days ago

Can i use ordinary fuse subtitute for thermal cut off pls. ?

Guest
jesteph34483
4 months 10 days ago

To use a regular fuse would defeat the purpose of what the thermal does. It’s there to protect the device in the event that it starts to reach temperatures higher than what it was designed for that it will protect it. Usually what causes them to trigger is that in the event of these devices, they are fooled into thinking there is a pot of water in the unit when there is not.

Guest
jesteph34483
5 months 13 days ago

I was just going over your how to here and see that you have a Nutritionist rice cooker. I noticed a similarity  to mine which is an Elite rice cooker. Looks like China strikes again with using one item and branding it 15 different ways to get more money out of us Americans. Thanks for the guide. I needed the picture of the inside bottom to connect my wires back the same way. For those who get no low temp heat while the rice cooker is keeping the rice warm, the problem will be in the big flat metal piece to the top and to the right of picture 2 bullet point 3. This is a resistor and could cause you problems if it burns out.

Guest
Abu Dhabi
11 months 14 days ago

Very good. I found the thermal fuse and have replaced in. Many thanks for indicating where to find it.

Guest
Palani
1 year 1 month ago

It worked perfectly for me thanks. You are God sent , you took so much trouble in explaining perfectly you deserve no less praise. May many more people be inspired to post similar fixes bless you
Palani

Guest
Shahriman
1 year 4 months ago

Hi,

I recently fixed my mom rice cooker using the steps you have illustrated above.  

Thanks and god bless.
Shah

Guest
HumphreyChin
1 year 5 months ago

Hi,
We use two large rice cookers in our Hawaiian BBQ restaurant everyday!  I was happy to find your excellent article that allowed me to fix our rice cooker. The person at the electronic store told me it makes a difference which way the thermal cut inserted.  Perhaps this will help John.
Regards…Humphrey

Guest
john
1 year 6 months ago

Hi,
 I got my thermal cut off replaced by an electrician..but soon after replacement the cooker started to trip from COOK to WARM after 10mins and again when I try to set it to COOK it will happen only after sometime i.e., when the cooker gets a bit cool.
Pls help me with the problem because the electrician himself is saying he has no idea what is the problem so I have to fix on my own.
 
Thanks,
John

Guest
2 months 24 days ago

I have the same problem

Guest
manojfly
1 year 7 months ago

Thanks for the detailed explanation, i bought a new thermal cut off  for 2 $ at radio shack ( Pretty expensive ) .. Mine was 184 C standard but i used a 229 cut off fuse.. still worked neat.. 
Your post saved the rice cooker from going permanently to trash.. Keep sharing knowledge..
Regards

Guest
BethTerry
1 year 7 months ago

That’s exactly my goal… to keep perfectly good gadgets out of the landfill. So glad the post helped!

Guest
Natarajan
1 year 7 months ago

Natarajan
I had replaced the thermal cut off and the cooker worked only for few minutes only. The thermal fuse is blown again. Now I have connected directly without any safety thermal cut off and cooker is working fine.
Why thermal cut off blowing ooften?
Is there any re settable thermal cut off?

Guest
BethTerry
1 year 7 months ago

How did it work out without the thermal cut off? It’s kind of dangerous to do that. Could catch on fire.

Guest
BethTerry
1 year 7 months ago

I’m sorry. I’m not an electrician. If I were you, I would find someone to help, like I did. The thermal cut off is there to keep the unit from catching on fire if it overheats. If the thermal cut off blows right away, then there must be something else going on with it. I wouldn’t use it without that safeguard in place.

Guest
ray mushi
1 year 7 months ago

Hi,
I like your explanation. My rice cooker hard this problem and getting that fuse is impossible. I tried to fix it by connecting direct wire over the broken fuse, it cooked only once. From there, soon after plug in it cooks for few seconds and shift to warm. Is the problem caused by direct connection over a broken fuse? Thank you

Guest
BethTerry
1 year 7 months ago

I’m sorry, I don’t know. I would look for an expert like I did to ask for help.

Guest
zidlez
1 year 8 months ago

wow..thanks for this..by the way..the thermal fuse of our rice cooker is toasted lol..and the problem is  there is no availble store here(midnight) so i just connect the wire without thermal fuse.i’m planning to buy it tomorrow after work.. can i use my rice cooker for once or twice..dont have time to cook on stove..

Guest
ZoGraph
1 year 10 months ago

Besides precise instruction you gave us a great presentation style along

Guest
BethTerry
1 year 10 months ago

Thanks!

Guest
EricLp
2 years 14 days ago

Ahhh, this just happened to my rice maker.   Great pics and good info.
So, I needed a Microtemp Cutoff SF226E 227C 250/10A for my rice maker.  Black and Decker. 
I live in Hawaii so no REAL electronics store besides radio shack and of course they don’t carry it.  So, I’m looking at 3-4 months shipping slow cheap economy mail from Hong Kong.   I did mention we eat rice every day?    
SO!  I’m not recommending this to ANYONE and if you decide to do it … DO IT AT YOUR OWN RISK…  I just ripped that POS out and replaced it with #14 stranded wire electrical extension cord.

Guest
Sarah
2 years 8 days ago

EricLp 
Hi Eric Did you fix it or do you still need that fuse??  I am going to my electronics store today–the rare and old fashioned kind that smells like cardboard boxes full of components. I will ask them if they have that part and if it costs less than a dollar, I will buy it for you and send it to you today.  I really hate being ready to fix something and then not being able to find the part.
If I am successful, I will send another reply to your post with my email address so you tell me how to get it to you.
Sarah
Microtemp Cutoff SF226E 227C 250/10A

Guest
ariang555
2 years 2 months ago

Loving my multimeterI will assume that someone with a multimeter knows that diodes only pass
current in one direction, but the average reader may not know that. 
So, before any DIYers out there take it upon themselves to replace
diodes, make sure you have tested the diode continuity in BOTH
directions.  (put red test lead on one side, black test lead on the
other side and test, then reverse positions of the red and black test
leads and test again)  If a diode is good, it will pass current in only
one direction.  If a diode is bad, it will not pass the current in
either direction.

Guest
2 years 2 months ago

ariang555 Loving my multimeter That’s very useful information. Thank you for sharing!

Guest
karimkhan666
2 years 4 months ago

hey bro you just made my day, guys like you are great, i love to do things myself rather then giving it to these service centres. who charge you a bomb for their service, small things which you can do it your self makes sense to do at home, complicated stuff then seek the pros.

Guest
H
2 years 4 months ago

Thank you so much! What a fantastic step by step tutorial. You really did a great job and I just fixed my rice cooker by following your steps exactly. My friends and even the hardware store clerks told me it was too much trouble to find the fuse replacement and just to buy a new rice cooker but it would be so silly to throw out the rice cooker when it just takes a 15 min fix! 
Thanks again – luv your website.
Hil

Guest
2 years 5 months ago

Wow! That’s a real cool tutorial! I would definitely try it out on our home’s rice cooker!

Guest
SilverColibri
2 years 6 months ago

Thank you for the superb tutorial! I have just managed fixing my rice cooker! I thought I could use my engineering skills and try ;)  I just couldn’t figure out what the problem was, thanks to your pictures I discovered the fuse! and I thought it must the fuse, everything else looked good. I didn’t have a multimeter so I took a chance and replaced the fuse ;) and VOILA! it worked! I reused a fuse from another old rice cooker where the teflon in the pot started coming off and sticking to the rice.. so that’s health hazard.. so I combined the two and got a perfectly functioning rice cooker! 
Cheers from Sweden!

Guest
JC
2 years 6 months ago

Many thanks! I live down the road in Union City and needed to fix my rice steamer. I found the part at Fry’s for under $2 and it now works fine. Great article!

Guest
Loving my multimeter
2 years 7 months ago

In my case my rice cookers thermal fuse was fine – the DIODES in the the wires that lead to the light bulbs were in need of replacement. How did i know? 1) I tested the thermal fuse as this web page suggested. The continuity test for all wires came back with a beep including the cord that plugs into the wall outlet. 2) i tested each wire length individually and the only 2 that did not beep were wires that lead to the light bulbs (that light up the “cooking” , “warm” or “done” indicator lights). 3) I noticed that the 2 sheathed wires that had not continuity had strange bumps along their lengths. I cut the sheaths off and the “bumps” turned out to be diodes (diodes cost pennies to replace) 4. I tested for continuity along the wire both before the diode (BEEP!) and after the diode (NO BEEP!).
 
I’ll be replacing the diodes to make sure that this indeed is the problem but the internal mechanisms in a rice cooker are surprisingly simple (even for me who is an beginner when it comes to electronics at best). There are only so many things that can break or wear out. I’m confident that this is the  cause. I ran a continuity test on other diodes i have (for another project) and they beeped so i’m 99% sure this is the problem .
 
Thank you for this page! I hope that my information helps others as your information helped me :)

Guest
binnu
2 years 9 months ago

how much it cost if we give to customer serviuce for repair?

Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I’ve learned a lot from this. Now I can fix my rice cooker on my own that easy. Thanks!
 
http://www.ricecooker5cup.com/

Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I’ve learned a lot from this. Now fixing rice cooker by my own is easy. Thanks!
 
http://www.ricecooker5cup.com/

Guest
angelranger
2 years 11 months ago

My waffle maker had the same problem. Matter of fact 99% of these electric appliances have a thermal fuse which seems set to blow and make us buy a new one. Coffee makers, hair dryers, frypans. Ha Ha! Costs all of $1.98 to buy a fuse. I bought three just in case…two left over.
Thanks for the excellent photo and explanations.
Junior Mr. Fix It – Chicago

Guest
Babivamous
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you so much, truly a genius

Guest
doc D
3 years 4 months ago

wow this is cool….now i can fix my rice cooker.
thanks a lot @Beth Terry.

Guest
freddy
3 years 8 months ago

I like the time and effort the author has made to do this and the humour. My quandary today was – I’ve been landed with next door’s rice cooker to fix (Next door is none other than the village’s awesome chinese take away) . A friend of a friend in heresay convinced them that i am a fixit superhero. (i am not!). After lots of fiddling I had already concluded to myself the fault was this thermal fuse thing that i’d never previously heard of. Thereafter: finding this tutorial pats me on the back in total reassurance that i was indeed correct, and am too also a superhero like the author. I’ve just saved the world of just a little bit less waste plastic. Thanks!

Guest
Fred C
4 years 1 day ago

I was searching for exact the same info and this was the best instructions (with lots of pictures) I could ever find on web! Thank you for the great work. Much appreciated!

Guest
ty
4 years 3 days ago

what is that inner pot made of? hate teflon, aluminum. anyone know if “green pans ” are really safer?

Guest
4 years 17 days ago

One day, my stereo wouldn’t turn on. Perhaps needing the same repair as the rice cooker? I hope!

Thanks!

Guest
4 years 23 days ago

Inspiring story + practical how-to info–you don’t get both in a single post very often these days, so thanks for sharing. I just went through a similar ordeal with my blender, but when I took it apart I found several small PLASTIC pieces inside hopelessly broken. So rather than go out and buy what would be about our third contemporary blender in as many years, I dug around in the basement until I found my wife’s grandmother’s all-steel-and-glass Osterizer, circa 1960. Works like a charm. No plastic, no problem!

Guest
Eve Stavros
4 years 24 days ago

…jumping up and down cheering… Go Beth, Go Beth, Good job, Beth! I”m definitely going to save these directions, in the event my rice cooker gives up the ghost. (or any other small electric w/similar heating elements, like my yoghurt maker, maybe?).

Guest
Sharyn Dimmick
4 years 26 days ago

It’s good to know about Allen — I’m saving this post in case we ever need him to help us repair to re-use something.

Unrelated to this topic, I wanted to thank you for publicizing Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff and Susan Freinkel’s Plastic, A Toxic Love Story. I was able to get both of them through my local library. They make a good combination of reading material and have taught me more about various forms of plastic. I highly recommend them to your readers and others.

Guest
Maeve
4 years 28 days ago

Beth, that is so cool! I’m impressed, and inspired to try the same, as I’m normally completely flummoxed by broken electronic items but loathe to throw them away. Thanks for sharing such detailed instructions. I don’t own a rice cooker, but some of the principles will be the same.

Guest
4 years 28 days ago

I love reading stuff like this. We’ve been trained that it’s easier to throw something out or that it will be too difficult to fix it. I’m so pleased to read your adventure of meeting Al and then fixing your rice cooker for $5! Good going Beth!

Guest
Amy
4 years 29 days ago

You never cease to inspire! I like to fix things, but electrical fix it jobs are intimidating.

Guest
4 years 29 days ago

You (and Al) are awesome. So hard to get things repaired these days — maybe we all need to get a bit handier.

Guest
4 years 29 days ago

Big applause to you! I’ll remember to come back to this post when our old rice cooker goes out. :-)

Guest
Magda
4 years 29 days ago

Its like you were meant to meet Al, so your rice cooker was menat to break! It is so great to see that these things canbe fixed, my DVD player just stopped turnin on but it makes a noise when plugged in, maybe there is hope for it yet.

Guest
4 years 30 days ago

Congratulations! I’m definitely in the why-on-earth-would-anyone-want-an-appliance-like-a-rice-cooker-cluttering-up-their-kitchen crowd, but nevertheless, I’m very happy for you.

Guest
Sabrina B
4 years 30 days ago

That’s much cheaper than buying a new rice cooker! My hair dryer broke in the spring and I threw it out because I had another one (backup!). Now I wish I had kept it and fixed it :(

Guest
Sabrina B
4 years 30 days ago

Wow Beth! I am so impressed that you were able to fix it!

From business school, I learned that many products are made with short lifespans purposely so that consumers will replace them year after year. They are made to work long enough so that the consumer will learn to love the product, but not too long so as to stop sales. But sometimes the $7 toaster from WalMart can outlive the $40 one… it’s just a matter of durability and fixing the weak parts. Most people don’t bother because the time and money it takes to replace parts. By the way, how much did the thermal cutoff cost you?

Guest
Holly
4 years 30 days ago

Beth you are such an inspiration!! I have a 1950s era waffle iron that stopped working, but I love it too much to throw it away. I’m going to take it apart and see if it has a fuse!

Guest
4 years 30 days ago

That’s my boy! Way to go, BGT.

Guest
sunnysandiegan
4 years 30 days ago

Way to go!!!

Guest
Kacie
4 years 30 days ago

Love it! I’m secretly hoping that some electrical gadget of mine will break just so I can fix it :)