Induction cooking is a simple and efficient process. But when something goes wrong with your kitchen’s induction cooktop, all the simplicity you love about it suddenly goes out the window. And, as it turns out, these intelligent machines are more complicated than they look.
In this article, we’ll look at some common induction cooktop problems like uneven heating and abrupt shutting down. We’ll also provide the information necessary to make a diagnosis and provide solutions like cookware compatibility and resetting.
Understanding Electromagnetism in Induction Cooktops
Before we delve deeper into the common problems associated with induction cooktops, it’s important to understand a bit about electromagnetism, the fundamental principle behind these modern cooking appliances.
Induction cooktops aren’t your standard stovetops. Instead, they make use of a fascinating scientific phenomenon called “electromagnetism” to cook food.
Underneath the cooktop surface lies tightly wound coils of electric wire. When current flows through these coils, it creates an electromagnetic field above it.
Place your pot (which must be made of a magnetic material) on top, and voila! The magnetic field induces electric currents, also known as “eddy currents,” within the pot – heating the food inside.
This way, the cooktop itself doesn’t generate heat; the heat comes directly from the pot under the influence of the magnetic field.
Induction Cooktop Not Heating Correctly
One of the most common problems with induction cooktops is not that they stop working altogether but rather that they stop heating correctly. This may mean that your appliance no longer works on the low setting, doesn’t get hot enough, or turns on and off unexpectedly.
If you’re struggling with any of these problems, one of the issues below is likely to blame.
Cookware Not Compatible
One of the most common reasons for an induction cooktop to stop working is using incompatible cookware.
In order for the magnetic heating elements in these cooktops to work, the pots and pans you use must be highly magnetic themselves. If you use non-magnetic cookware, it will not heat.
Most induction cooktops won’t generate and transfer heat if the pots and pans are not compatible.
If your cookware is only somewhat magnetic, heating can be inefficient, unbalanced, or intermittent.
Highly magnetic cookware materials include carbon steel and cast iron. Low-nickel steel cookware is also highly compatible with induction cookers. For stainless steel and stainless clad cookware, they are sometimes magnetic, but not always.
Info: Pots and pans with higher nickel levels, known as austenitic stainless, may heat inefficiently or not work at all. Keep in mind that the more nickel stainless steel cookware has, the less magnetic it becomes.
Aluminum, copper, and ceramic cookware options are incompatible with induction cooktops. Some pots made of these materials have special magnetic coils on the bottom to make them work with induction cookers. However, these aren’t always as effective as advertised.
If you believe your cookware might be the problem, there is an easy way to test it:
Simply take a magnet and stick it to the bottom of the pot. If the magnet doesn’t stick or only makes a weak connection, your cookware is the problem.
To find out more about what type of cookware to use with your induction cooker, check out our article, How Does Induction Cooking Work.
Incorrect Pan Position
Even if you have the right cookware, your pot or pan may still be why your cooktop isn’t heating correctly.
Induction cookers are known to be finicky when it comes to pot size and placement. Many models will not heat at all if the pot is too big for the burner or if it is not correctly positioned over the magnetic coil.
Make sure the burner you’re using is the right size (or slightly larger) than your pot. Also, be sure that it is centered over the burner.
If the pan you’re using is too large for your largest burner, then you won’t be able to use it on your induction cooker.
Power cycling is not actually something that needs to be fixed, but rather a normal operative mode for induction cooktops.
Most induction cookers have a safety feature that will automatically cut power to the coils when a certain internal temperature is reached. This usually only happens if you use the high burner setting for extended periods. After about two minutes, power will be restored and cooking will continue as normal.
Note: If you are frying, reducing, or using other cooking processes requiring extended high heat, short heating interruptions are likely with this stovetop. There is nothing wrong with your appliance — as long as the power kicks back on after a couple of minutes.
Faulty Induction Burner
Just as an electric range burner can start malfunctioning, so can an induction burner.
Unfortunately, there are many more reasons an induction burner might start to fail.
- Damage or failure to/within the copper coils
- Poor connection to the coils
- A problem within the control panel
Often, these problems will be obvious from looking at the internal workings of your cooktop. To do this, simply follow your manufacturer’s instructions for removing the glass cooktop. Once the internal components are exposed, examine them for scorch marks, loose connections, and cracks.
If there are visible damages, you can find replacement parts online – Check Sears PartsDirect for your model here.
Dirty Control Panel
Many modern induction cookers have touch based control panels. If these controls are dirty or covered in grease then they may not detect your finger when you attempt to adjust the settings.
Try cleaning your control panel with some warm water a dish soap on a soft cloth and try again.
Many induction cookers have sensors that react to the magnetic feedback of the cookware. If this sensor is faulty, it can cause the burner to turn off and on during cooking.
Luckily, replacing these sensors is fairly straightforward. Reference your owner’s manual to identify where the sensor(s) is. Your manual may also have information on how to test the sensor to ensure it is working properly.
If results are bad, find the part number to order a new one online.
Induction cookers often have a control lock setting. Many people think of this as a child lock, but you can also use it to lock your temperature control settings while the cooktop is in use.
Note: If you accidentally engage the lock setting while cooking, you will no longer be able to change your heat settings.
Every model of induction cooker requires different steps to disengage the control lock setting. Here are a few of the most common methods you can try if your owner’s manual isn’t handy:
- Press and hold the power button for up to ten seconds. On some models, this is the method for turning on and off the lock feature, and on others, it will force a restart that will clear the lock setting.
- Look for a button with a key or padlock symbol. Press and hold until the control panel unlocks.
- Look for a button marked with a “P” or “L.” Hold the button for five seconds.
Here’s a reference video if you have an AEG induction cooker or are interested in seeing how your control panel might look in lock versus unlocked mode.
Heat Shuts Off While Cooking
If your induction cooktop shuts off completely in the middle of cooking, the issue could be one of those mentioned above. However, you are more likely dealing with an automatic timer, incorrect pan position, or tripped temperature sensor.
Automatic Timer Switched On
Many induction cooktops feature a timer mode that lets you set how long the burner stays on before automatically turning off. This is a great feature for busy chefs and precise cooking, but not so great if it’s accidentally engaged.
If the timer is on, your control display should show a numerical countdown. If your cooktop only has one display, this timer may alternate with the set temperature display, making it less obvious that the timer is engaged.
Locate the button with the clock image and press it to bring up the timer display. If it is active, you should see some amount of time remaining. Hold the button or press it again to clear this timer and deactivate auto shut off. The exact steps might vary for your model, so check the manual if you have trouble clearing this mode.
Incorrect Pan Position
As mentioned above, your pan position can cause heating problems with your stovetop. Similarly, a sudden change in pan position can cause your burner to turn off in the middle of cooking.
As you turn your pot to stir your food or move your cookware around the stovetop, always make sure that you return or reposition it on the center of the burner. Keep in mind that the burner will turn off if you move your pot too much.
For most models, the burner will not come back on by itself just because you reposition the pot. So, be sure to check your burner settings each time you touch your pots.
Many induction cookers use temperature sensors as a safety control. These sensors are there to shut off the burner if the pot on top of it becomes too hot.
If you are cooking on high and your food begins to burn or the cookware overheats, the induction cooking process may be automatically shut off.. Of course, if this sensor is faulty, false high-temperature readings can also cause the burner to turn off.
Replacing these sensors is generally fairly straightforward. Check your owner’s manual to find out how to locate the sensor and for guidance on which parts to order. >>Check Sears PartsDirect for your model here.<<
Induction Cooktop Makes a Noise While Cooking
It is not uncommon for induction cooktops to start making low pulsing, clicking, or buzzing while in use. What you hear is the magnetic field establishing the coil. This noise dissipates the length of the stove.
If your once quiet cooker has suddenly started talking back, you’re likely experiencing an issue with the fan, uneven cookware problems, or other broken parts causing vibrations within the appliance.
All induction cooktops feature internal fans to keep the components cool. You can usually hear these fans running during operation, but the sound should not be overly noticeable or disruptive.
A clicking or grinding sound often indicates an issue with the fan or fan motor. If this problem isn’t addressed quickly, it can lead to fan failure and cause your hob to stop working altogether.
Determining whether the issue is in the fan or the motor can be difficult, especially if neither looks to be damaged. For a part like this, you may be better off hiring a professional to take a look for you.
But if you like a challenge, grab a fan from Sears Parts Direct. Here is a great video that goes over fan replacement in a single burner induction hob:
Cookware Surface Uneven or Inadequate
As we all learned in school, magnets have a tendency to make things move around. When all is working correctly with your stovetop and cookware, the only thing that should be moving is the currents within the metal—a nearly silent phenomenon.
But, if your cookware is not perfectly flat, these currents will cause the pot to rock or vibrate against your glass top. Similarly, if you leave a metal utensil in the cookware while it’s heating, you may hear it begin to move or vibrate. It is crucial to avoid this issue as much as possible because intense vibration can damage your glass top.
Some types of clad cookware, even though perfectly flat, can make noise on an induction cooker. Whistling or humming sounds are common with cheaper clad pots and pans. These sounds are artifacts of the magnetic field vibrating the magnetic layer against the non-magnetic layer.
Similar sounds can develop if the burner size is too small or large for the pot.
If your cooktop suddenly makes strange noises, it is worth checking if the issue repeats with different cookware before getting the appliance looked at.
Vibrating pots and pans are fairly common with induction cookers. But vibrations can also develop within the cooktop.
Often, fixing this issue is as easy as pulling the glass top and securing all connections. In addition to checking where the electronics connect to the burners, be sure the copper coils themselves are securely attached to their clips.
If this doesn’t work, the issue may be with the fan motor or a faulty part within the inner components. Because there are so many different possibilities here, your best option is to hire a professional to take a look.
Glass Stovetop is Scratched
Scratches on induction cooktops can cause issues with their use, especially if they are very deep and cause the temperature sensor to flip. But, most often, these are just cosmetic issues that you can easily fix.
One of the best methods for dealing with a scratched cooktop is to use a glass repair kit. For more minor repairs, a little baking soda, water, and elbow grease can go a long way.
Read more: For more great tips on how to remove scratches from glass top stoves, check out this article.
Like electric glass top stoves, induction stoves utilize a glass-ceramic surface that is prone to scratches. To keep your stovetop looking—and working—its best, only use cookware with smooth, flat bases. For those in need of new cookware to use with your induction hob, here is our list of the best cookware for glass top stoves.
Lights on the Stovetop are Flashing
If the control panel on your induction cooker starts blinking, the issue might be as simple as the unit trying to remind you to turn it off, or it may be a more complicated problem.
Cooktop Left On
Many smart induction stoves will let you know if you’ve left them on. While these appliances don’t create any heat unless a compatible pan is on the burner, they do still draw some electricity when powered on. To help save you money, many models will begin to blink if they’ve been left inactive for a certain period.
Hard Shutdown Needed
In more extreme cases, a blinking control panel can mean that something has gone wrong inside your appliance. An overloaded circuit or computer chip error can cause your appliance to stop working and begin blinking.
If this happens and the unit is not responsive to being shut down via the power button, you’ll have to do a hard reset. For portable units, this is as easy as unplugging them and waiting a few minutes to plug them back in.
For fixed or installed induction cooktops, you’ll need to shut them off via your home’s breaker panel. Locate the breaker your stove is connected to and flip it off in the power box. Wait at least thirty seconds before turning it back on.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to call the repairman to take a look.
Control Panel Not Working
If your appliance won’t turn on or basic functions aren’t working, this usually indicates that the control board has failed. But, sometimes, the problem is as simple as a power interruption or activated lock setting.
Circuit Board Malfunction
As with most electronic devices, the control panel of your induction cooker relies on a functional control board. If anything happens to this component, some or all functionality of the stove could be affected.
One of the easiest ways to fry an induction stove’s control board is by removing the pot before turning the burner off. This is because breaking the magnetic connection between the pot and coil before turning off the power can cause the energy load to rush to the control board and overload the circuit.
Regardless of why the control board failed, you will have to replace it or call someone to do it for you.
No Power To Cooktop
If your cooktop won’t turn on and none of the lights are working, your issue may be a power supply problem. Start by checking your breaker box. If the circuit was overloaded, the breaker might have blown. Switch the breaker off for thirty seconds, then turn it back on. If this doesn’t work, check all the connections (between the outlet, the cord, and the appliance) and ensure they are secure.
If these two tricks don’t fix the problem, it’s time to call in the professionals.
As we discussed in the first section, a locked cooktop can cause the buttons of your induction cooker to become unresponsive. Locate the lock button, which usually has a key or padlock symbol on it, and hold it down for up to ten seconds. Alternatively, you can try holding down the power button.
Error Codes Being Displayed
If your cooktop detects there is a problem, then it may display an error code. These error codes may be something similar to: E1, C1, F1 etc.
To solve this issue, you will need to look up the error codes in your manual and then solve the relevant problem. If the problem listed is in this article then you may be able to fix the cooktop yourself. Otherwise you should contact an appliance technician.
We have an article covering all the error codes for popular induction cooktop brands here.
Other Things To Try
Induction cookers are deceptively complicated devices. If none of the above options helped solve your issue, here are a couple more things you can look at before throwing up your hands and buying a new stove.
Reset the Cooktop
Resetting your appliance is a surprisingly effective way to solve many induction cooktop problems. How to do this depends on your model. So, check your manual for instructions. If a soft reset doesn’t work or if you can’t find your manual, a hard reset, by switching off the breaker for 30 seconds, should do the trick.
Call In the Professionals
If all else fails, it is time to call in the professionals.
Just be sure the appliance repairman you contact is up to date on their induction cooktop appliance knowledge. These efficient stovetops are becoming more popular in America, but they are not as common as gas and electric ranges.
Induction cooktops make cooking for your family more energy efficient and safer, but these complex appliances aren’t immune to problems.
If your cooker suddenly experiences heating issues, starts making noise, or won’t respond to normal commands, there are many things you can try to fix the issue. But for those more complex problems, especially ones that persist despite your best attempts, you may be better off calling in a professional technician.
Are you having trouble with your induction cooktop and looking for some guidance? Comment below, and we’ll be happy to help!