Is your sous vide not working or turning on? Your power sources could be to blame. Here are 7 causes & fixes.

Ever since this cooking method was invented in 1971, sous vide has revolutionized the way in which we prepare our food, and enjoy the most tender meats. It’s almost unbelievable that a technique that used to be exclusive to Michelin star restaurants, is now within our reach.

Sous vide cookers are very easy to use, extremely versatile, and quite cheap if you compare them to other professional-grade cooking appliances.

And yet, as wonderful as they are, perfection is a feature they do not possess. If you’re here reading this, your unit is not working or not turning on. Why?

There are several possible explanations behind your sous vide’s malfunctioning. From a damaged power source to an overheated motor. The list of culprits is nearly endless.

In order to adequately troubleshoot your sous vide appliance and get it back to normal, you need to have a clear idea of what you should be looking out for.

Below, you will find a list of the most common causes behind your sous vide not working or turning on, and the easiest steps you can take to address each one of them.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Fixing a Malfunctioning Sous Vide Machine

I know it might be tempting to pry your appliance open first and look at external factors later, but trust me, you do not want to do that. It’s the perfect way to waste precious time and money. 

Your sous vide might not be working due to:

  • A faulty outlet
  • A damaged power cord
  • A blown fuse
  • A broken power switch
  • An overheated motor
  • A failing heating element
  • A dead thermostat

How to Hard Reset a Sous Vide Machine?

Before doing anything else, I want us to try and hard reset your sous vide.

The process to do this will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the steps for every appliance should be somewhat similar:

Reset Wi-Fi

  • Disconnect your sous vide, and reconnect it again
  • Hold the Wi-Fi button for 4 seconds

This will make the machine forget all pre-saved network information.

Reset Appliance

Not all models have this feature, but if yours does, you should be able to find a hard reset button at the back of the appliance’s upper body. Hold it down for 5 seconds, and you should be good to go.

#1 A Faulty Outlet

You’d be surprised at how many people spend copious amounts of money every year trying to find what’s wrong with their sous vide, only to discover that their wall outlet was to blame.

Depending on the extent of the malfunction, your machine might not be turning on at all, or it might be working intermittently. The latter condition is much more concerning, as it could eventually lead to short-circuiting, and permanent damage to your sous vide.

Solution: Try a different outlet.

Carefully unplug your unit, and let it cool down. Once you have done that, take it to a different section of your house, preferably as far removed from the outlet you normally use and plug it back into a new one.

If you’re up for a challenge and own a multimeter, you can use it to test the outlet for continuity. While this is completely optional, faulty outlets can be the first sign of a larger malfunction in your home’s electrical layout, so it’s best to nip whatever’s going on, in the bud.

#2 Your Power Cord Is Damaged

electronics plug on orange background
Proper storage of power cord can prevent damages to the cable and its wires

While these cables may look thick and sturdy on the outside, you have to remember that they are made up of much smaller cables that can be very easily damaged.

In fact, seemingly unimportant bad habits, such as storing them improperly, keeping them tangled, or pressed against a wall in weird angles, are more than enough to do them in.

Just as it happens with your power outlet, if the damage is total, your appliance will not turn on, but if the cable is only partially broken, you could be experiencing intermittent functioning.

If the latter is true, please do not keep using your sous vide until you replace the cable.

Solution: If you happen to have a spare cable for testing, go ahead and use it. This will save you time and money. Just make sure that it meets the same amperage and voltage requirements as the damaged one.

Provided that you do not have one, that’s okay too. You can do a quick Google search on your machine’s make and model to find the right replacement at any online marketplace for cheap.

#3 A Blown Fuse

So, both your wall outlet, and your power cord are working normally. Are you out of options?

Definitely not.

The next possibility on our list that we should explore, is a blown fuse. As you know, these nifty little parts are responsible for “blowing”, and cutting off all electrical continuity inside your appliance when they detect a large power spike or extremely high temperatures.

If your sous vide is not working or turning on, chances are this part has already blown in an attempt to protect your appliance from the aforementioned extreme conditions.

Solution: For this, you will have to open your machine. To do so, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug your unit, and let it cool down
  2. Remove the clamp from the machine’s body
  3. Turn the steel skirt counterclockwise and remove it carefully
  4. Locate the screws in the appliance’s upper body, and undo them with a screwdriver
  5. Carefully, but firmly, try to pry open the black upper body in half, following the vertical plastic seam
  6. Expose your sous vide’s internal components, and locate your fuse

While you’ll need a multimeter to test the viability of the parts below, the naked eye can easily identify a blown fuse. All you have to look out for is blackening, and a broken filament, clear indicators of a small explosion inside the fuse’s glass body.

Seeing one, or both of these signs means that you will have to find a replacement for the fuse.

It shouldn’t be too hard, though, you can easily get a new from either your nearest hardware store, or your manufacturer. If you’re a visual person like me, there are tons of online videos that you can check out, and follow along step by step to disassemble your appliance.

#4 You Have a Broken Power Switch

chef holding a sous vide
Locate and check the switch behind the external controls if it’s working

In order to activate or deactivate most models, you’ll have to flip a switch.

If your sous vide is not working or turning on, chances are that the part behind the external switch, is faulty, thus preventing it from operating.

I know this sounds like something completely obvious that you would never miss, but it’s precisely the most seemingly unimportant factors, that we tend to overlook more often.

Solution: Please follow the steps from the previous point to open your appliance and expose its internal components. Once you have done that, locate the switch behind the external controls, and test it for continuity with your multimeter.

If there is none, you will need to find a replacement.

Usually, provided that you’re still under warranty coverage, and the damage occurred under normal operating conditions, your manufacturer should be able to take care of the repairs at no charge.

Alternatively, you can always try and find the part yourself. This might prove a little challenging, but you will not have to wait days or weeks for your manufacturer to send the repaired unit back to you.

#5 Your Motor Is Overheating

If you use your machine according to your manufacturer’s indications, and in compliance with your user manual, you should never have this problem.

That being said, there will be some occasions in which you might have to operate your machine for long periods. While this is normally okay, straining your motor excessively can cause permanent damage to it over time.

Provided that your sous vide is not working or turning on, chances are this damage has already set in, and you’ll have to replace the part.

Solution: If you have a good eye, you might be able to tell whether your motor is working without prying your appliance open.

When the part is working normally, you should be able to see a small current in the water around the machine, a clear indicator that the motor is unscathed. However, if you want to be extremely thorough, you can always follow the steps from point #3, and make sure it’s broken.

#6 Your Heating Element Is Faulty

electrical heating element
Watch out for overheating from a faulty heating element

Let’s say that your appliance is working in all areas, except that one that truly matters. Heating.

If this is your case, chances are that your heating element is broken. As you know, this part is solely responsible for transforming the electrical energy it draws from your wall outlet, into heat, to cook your food.

A malfunctioning heating element could be allowing all other parts of your sous vide to work normally but keep the water at room temperature.

Solution: You know the drill. Follow the steps from point #3, and expose your heating element for continuity testing with your trusty multimeter.

As opposed to the other parts above, this one should be right beneath the steel skirt, so, if you haven’t opened the upper body section yet, you don’t need to.

#7 Your Thermostat Is Dead

Lastly, let’s check your thermostat.

This part is in charge of detecting, and regulating both the internal temperature of your appliance, and that of the water you’ll be cooking in. I’d go as far as to say that this is the most important element inside your sous vide, given that temperature maintenance and control are so critical to this appliance.

When this component fails, you’ll be stuck with a machine that either won’t generate enough heat or generate too much as a consequence of inaccurate temperature detection.

Solution:  Follow the steps from point #3, and test for continuity.

All done!

When Should You Call a Pro?

The answer to this question will depend greatly on the status of your warranty.

If none of the solutions above worked, and you’re still under coverage, your manufacturer should be able to send a technician that can take care of any repairs for free. Unless otherwise specified. 

Provided that your warranty is expired, you can go ahead and try to do your own repairs, but if you ever feel unsafe or doubtful, please call a professional.

Conclusion

Sous vides benefit from patience, but to have yours constantly fail, can definitely test yours.

Luckily, as you’ve learned in this piece, more often than not, the source of the problem might come from an external factor, and not the unit itself. And even when the malfunction is actually inside the appliance, it should be very simple to address.

Trust in yourself, and in your DIY abilities. With enough resilience and knowledge, there’s nothing you can’t do.

Thank you for reading. If you found this article useful, why not check out our other incredible resources below?

Happy cooking!