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.

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Jenae

Hi, I have a mini portable rice cooker that died just like this. But there is no way for me to unscrew the bottom like shown above as I can’t see ANY visible screws. What should I do?

Eric

Try pushing on all the labels on the unit. Typically manufacturers hide screws holders underneath in the interest of aesthetics.

Joe

Thanks for posting this. I have a Salton rice cooker that looks about the same as yours. I took the bottom off and am about to get my multimeter… hoping to avoid getting a new rice cooker!

Mahal

Hello i have fuzzy logic rice cooker amd stop working it wasnt that old, can someone tell me whats wrong or dies can still be fix like this method that posted?thanks

Stacy

Thanks for this posting. My Aroma professional multi cooker stopped working and I was have been at a loss as to what to do. Will try this and hope for the best.. thanks again!

Helen

I have a Buffalo ERC-18 rice cooker, and it shows E01 error. After I replaced the fuse, it still shows E01 error. What else should I need to check or replace?

Katy

I have same problem . My 10 cups Buffalo smart cooker not working . It also show E01. Need help

143

My riceckooker turn of autometically after2 , 3 minits and restrat autometically after 2 , 3 minits.. why my rice cooker not working properly.

Diane

I have a 2 tier Oster food steamer that no longer will heat & steam the water. I figure it may be the heating element that must be broken. I really enjoyed having it. It has clear plastic baskets that fit on top of the steam plate that holds water . Can you help me?

Jasmine Quanil

I know I may adding this a little too late. But I had the exact same problem followed by another problem. A slightly different problem is that after replacing the thermal fuse, my cooker was always warming. The switched worked to go to COOK position. But it was still warming only (low heat only). The cause is mechanical. You see, most Chinese made rice cookers have a mechanical contraption which does the following: 1. If the weight is more, then underneath two almost flat rectangular panels (usually one on top of other) should touch each other. This is the COOK… Read more »

Tom

NOT TOO LATE, JASMINE! =]

I just stumbled into this discussion after struggling with a faulty rice cooker for several months. Sometimes it turns on, sometimes not… The symptoms are exactly as you describe, so I will investigate according to your suggestions BEFORE I try replacing the thermal fuse.

Assuming this Comments section will allow it, I’ll report back on my findings. Thanks for taking the time to post additional information, and thanks to the author of this very helpful blog article.

Alex Kachepa

i am very grateful for this post,it has really helped me fix my rice cooker on my own which stopped functioning several months ago.

Venugopal

I have a Sharon’s m18 c model rice cooker looks like the circuit is gone all micro switches or membrane type it just wouldn’t start need help can such membrane types be repaired

Bern

Thank You.. Just got it Fixed and there was light.lol. You really helped a lot.. Cooking my rice now..

Gatot

I just learn about thermal cut off from you. Thanks 1000 times!
God bless you sir

Frankie

If the reading is zero would that be still good for thermal fuse or not ? I believe if is open bad fuse no continuity. Is that right?

Eric A Drew

A resistance reading of zero means the thermal cutoff is good

Priya

Thanks, I saved one of our rice cookers after reading your information. Thanks a lot. Now it is working perfectly well.

Abdul Rashid

I need help.
My rice cooker is always on warm. You press to cooker and it will return to warm again. Possible solutions please

Megan Hanson

me too. I don’t know what to do

sbb chary

replace thermal button

sammy huynh

dude, i replaced the new thermal exactly the same as the original one SEFUSE BF-188E 192C – 10A , JET 250V but it blowed after 10mins of cooking.
Please let me know what happen?

many thanks.

stephen

Have the same problem and still not find what happen.Please let know what happen.

jenniabsole

Thank you! This post saved our cooker. After almost a year collecting dust, my dad and I finally got around to fixing my rice cooker by replacing the thermal fuse. He ordered through Amazon (10 for $4.99) shipped directly from Hong Kong and arrived weeks before expected date.

So glad to have my steel-pot cooker back and not in landfill. Not to mention the cooked rice!

romesh

No need to use the fuse agin. I use few copper wires similiar to that. Also direct soldering also ok

MrOmnos

Dude…that will overheat the cooker and burn you rice. Damn!!

blahblahblah

That defeat the purpose of safety. Next time when the cooker overheats. The circuit won’t break. You burn the rice, rice cooker, the kitchen… you got the idea.

romesh

thnx. This is a big help. 5 star

Olan Aquino Francisco

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

jesteph34483

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.

Raffy

you should replaced it with the right thermal fuse 195deg, 110v if you are in us, 250 v if asia 15 amp, if it doesn’t work you have a different problem, there is another resistor with wires if that is open you can’t warm up the rice but it will work on cooking, good luck guys

jesteph34483

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… Read more »

Abu Dhabi

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

Palani

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

Shahriman

Hi,

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

Thanks and god bless.
Shah

HumphreyChin

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

john

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

YOYO

I have the same problem

manojfly

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

Beth Terry

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

Natarajan

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?

Beth Terry

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.

Beth Terry

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

ray mushi

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

Beth Terry

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

zidlez

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..

ZoGraph

Besides precise instruction you gave us a great presentation style along

Beth Terry

Thanks!

EricLp

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… Read more »

Sarah

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… Read more »

sbb chary

for the safety of customer, every electrical item is fixed with a fuse. without fuse, you can use the appliance, you may be at risk, please.

ariang555

Loving my multimeter I 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… Read more »

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

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

karimkhan666

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.

H

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

PBX

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

SilverColibri

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… Read more »

JC

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!

Loving my multimeter

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… Read more »

binnu

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

angelranger

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

Babivamous

Thank you so much, truly a genius

doc D

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

freddy

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… Read more »

Fred C

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!

ty

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

Tracey TieF

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

Thanks!

George Elvin

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!

Eve Stavros

…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?).

Sharyn Dimmick

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.

Maeve

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.