Is your sous vide shutting off randomly? Your power cord might be partially damaged. Here are 6 reasons why

Few things are as convenient and effective as a sous vide cooker. Regardless of what you’re trying to prepare, you can be sure that you will always get the best results. They’re truly amazing machines.

That being said, their wonderful features are hard to appreciate when they start malfunctioning, and become inconvenient.

Sous Vide In A Pot With Fresh Meat Beside
Cooking sous vide is another “set it and forget it” way of cooking, just like the slow cooker and the pressure cooker.

Unfortunately, like any other appliance out there, sous vides can fail occasionally, either due to a damaged component, poor maintenance, or user error. If you’re here reading this, your unit has already started to give you trouble, and is shutting off randomly.

Can you fix it? Definitely!

There are several reasons why your sous vide might keep shutting off randomly. From a damaged power cord, to high water levels. The possibilities are nearly endless. In order to properly troubleshoot this issue, you have to know exactly what to look for.

This is why I’ve prepared the list below. In it, you will find the most common causes behind this occurrence, and the simplest steps you can take to address each one of them. I’m confident that, if you stick to them religiously, your appliance will be back to normal in the blink of an eye.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Fixing a Malfunctioning Sous Vide

This might surprise you, but there’s a very big chance that a lot of the problems you’re experiencing don’t come from a technical fault, but rather an error on your end.

Prying your appliance open and tempering with it unnecessarily is a great way to waste precious time, and money, as well as risk voiding your warranty if you’re still under coverage. Bear with me, and be patient, I promise we’ll find the culprit.

#1 Check Your Outlet

Test your outlet for continuity

First, let’s take a look at your power sources.

Faulty outlets can be very tricky to diagnose because their signs of malfunction can easily be confused for a faulty component, short-circuiting, or overheating inside your sous vide. 

While this occurrence is not awfully common, it is definitely a possibility that we must consider.

Depending on how severe the damage to the outlet is, it could be supplying no power, or supplying it intermittently. The latter is much more concerning, as it could cause your appliance to short circuit, and kill it.

It is of the utmost importance that, as soon as you suspect this to be the issue, you stop using your unit immediately.

Solution: Try a different outlet.

To do this, please unplug your appliance carefully, and let it cool down. Once you have done that, you can take it to a different section of your house, preferably as far from the original outlet as possible, and then plug it back into a new one.

If you own a multimeter and want a DIY challenge, you can test the outlet for continuity with it. While this is completely optional, it is also strongly encouraged, as a faulty outlet could be the first sign of a greater malfunction within your home’s electrical layout.

#2 Your Power Cord Is Damaged

Store your power cord appropriately

Assuming that your outlet is unscathed, let’s move on to your power cord.

If you’ve ever stripped one, you know that inside the external rubber housing, there are several smaller cables that can be very easily damaged.

I’m not saying that everyday use will cause your cord to break, but seemingly unimportant bad habits, such as storing it improperly, keeping it tangled, or pressed against a wall in a weird angle, can damage it significantly.

Just as it happens with the wall outlet, if the damage is total, your sous vide will not even turn on, but if it’s only partial, it might put your unit at risk of permanent damage from short-circuiting.

Again, if you suspect this to be the culprit, please stop using your machine immediately.

Solution: Replace the cable.

I don’t expect you to have a spare one for testing lying around, but on the off chance that you do, you can go ahead and use it. This will both provide you with an immediate answer, and save you some money. Just make sure that it meets the same voltage and amperage requirements, as the broken one.

If you don’t have another cable, that is perfectly fine too. You can find a replacement at any online marketplace by Google searching your machine’s make and model.

#3 Put More Water in Your Pot

Check your water levels while cooking

This is not true for all models, but a lot of sous vide cookers are designed to shut off if they detect that the water level in your pot is getting too low.

As you know, when water gets hot or boils, it starts to evaporate, turning into steam. This process slowly, but surely depletes your pot’s water content. If your sous vide keeps shutting off randomly, chances are you’re leaving the appliance unattended for too long.

Having this happen once or twice won’t damage your appliance, but doing it frequently is a surefire way to decrease its lifespan significantly.

Solution: Give your user manual another read through to see what the adequate water levels for cooking are.

You can also be a little more conscious about how you operate your appliance, and do your best to supervise the process occasionally. 

Filling Pot With Water
Many sous vide cookers are programmed to turn off if the water level in your pot falls below a certain level.

#4 Remove Some Water From Your Pot

You will probably find this funny, but overfilling your pot can also cause your sous vide to shut off randomly.

Frustrating, right?

These appliances benefit from precision, and are designed to operate with specific amounts of water.

That being said, if you had to choose between filling your pot too little, and filling it too much, I would definitely choose the former.

While not using enough water for cooking can cause its own problems, using too much can flood your appliance’s upper body, and permanently damage its fuse, thermostat, and circuit board.

This will vary from model to model, and from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in general, only the steel skirt in the lower body should be submerged, while the upper part should always remain dry.

If your sous vide is shutting off randomly, chances are it’s just trying to protect its internal components from water and steam.

Solution: I’ve said this before, but I can’t stress it enough. Please read your user manual carefully.

More often than not, you will find the recommended amount of water you need to use for your particular make and model, and whether you can submerge the upper body.

Provided that your appliance has already sustained some damage, you will have to go in. Please read on to find out how.

#5 A Blown Fuse

This could be the first sign of a greater concern

Ah, yes, the fuse. Your sous vide’s guardian angel.

As you probably know, this nifty little part is responsible for “blowing” to cut off all electrical continuity inside your unit when it senses extreme temperatures, large power spikes, or flooding.

While, in theory, your machine should not even turn on if you have a blown fuse,  sometimes the component only blows partially, thus allowing for intermittent functioning.

If your sous vide keeps shutting off randomly, chances are you’ll have to go in, and replace this component.

Solution: To open your appliance, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug your unit, and let it cool down
  • Remove the clamp from the machine’s body
  • Turn the steel skirt counterclockwise, and remove it carefully
  • Pry open the appliance’s upper body. It should split vertically in half, right where the plastic seem is visible
  • Expose your unit’s guts, and locate the fuse
  • Test it for continuity with a multimeter

If you’re a visual person like me, there are tons of online videos you can check out and follow along step by step.

#6 Your Switch Needs Replacing

Your switch might be malfunctioning

Lastly, let’s look at your switch.

Every make and model is different, but in 99% of cases, there will be an “on/off” switch somewhere in your unit’s upper body. As you can imagine, this part is responsible for activating or deactivating your sous vide whenever you flip it.

If this part is failing in any way, it could be turning your appliance on, and then shutting it off randomly due to an electrical continuity interruption.

Just as it happens with your wall outlet or your power cord, intermittent power supply is very dangerous, so please stop using your machine immediately after diagnosing this as the culprit.

Solution: Please follow the steps from the previous point to expose your appliance’s guts, locate your switch (it should be right behind the external “on/off” controller), and test it for continuity.

Conclusion

To have your appliance keep shutting off randomly can be very frustrating, and detrimental to the overall sous vide cooking process, as it benefits from prolonged operating periods.

Luckily, as you’ve learned on this piece, addressing most of the issues behind this occurrence is fairly simple and quick. Generally, the factor to blame will be external, and not within the appliance itself.

And even when you actually need to replace any components, accessing the unit to test them should not be too challenging.

That being said, if at any point during the DIY process you feel unsafe or doubtful, please do not hesitate to call a professional for help.

Thank you for reading. If you found this article helpful, why not keep the learning going through our other incredible resources below?

Dinner is served!