Troubleshooting an Electric Deep Fryer

French fries in an electric deep fryer basket.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-30
What You'll Need
Electric deep fryer
User manual for electric deep fryer
Screwdriver set
Digital multimeter
User manual for multimeter
What You'll Need
Electric deep fryer
User manual for electric deep fryer
Screwdriver set
Digital multimeter
User manual for multimeter

An electric deep fryer is a great appliance to have in the kitchen. It allows you to fry food in a self-contained, automated unit. This makes the process cleaner and safer, and the temperature control provides consistently successful outcomes. But as wonderful as they are for reliable frying results, electric deep fryers can stop working like any other appliance.

Fortunately, electric deep fryers have fairly basic parts. If your fryer won’t turn on or isn’t heating properly, you can try some DIY repairs before calling in a repair professional.

Warning: Never leave your fryer unattended, and always check that it's heating correctly. If there's a problem with the thermostat and safety mechanisms fail, the fryer will continue to heat oil until it catches on fire. Always keep a fire extinguisher labeled for grease and cooking oil on hand when deep frying foods.

Electric Fryer Won’t Turn On

Start by checking the simplest reasons that your fryer won't turn on. First, check that the power cord is connected. The power cord to a deep fryer is usually magnetic, and can become disconnected when the fryer is moved or bumped.

If the cord is connected, the contacts on the power cord could have become worn or dirty, making the connection to the fryer poor. Clean the contacts with a lint free cloth. If this doesn’t work, the internal wires in the cord may have become damaged. Testing to see if your power cord is working is a simple process.

fries cooking in a deep fat fryer

Test Your Power Cord

Warning: Unplug the power cord from appliance and wall. Failure to do so can result in shock or death.

Reference the user manual for your multimeter to set the device to continuity test mode. Make sure that the positive lead on the multimeter is plugged into the voltmeter or ohmmeter outlet.

To test that there is electrical flow in the power cord, first place one multimeter lead to one of the prongs on the AC side of the power cord (the side that plugs into the wall). Then touch the other lead to one of the female connections on the appliance side of the power cord (the side that plugs into the appliance) at the same time.

The multimeter will beep if there is an electrical connection (continuity). If it doesn’t beep this time, touch the lead to the other prong.

Repeat these steps for the untested prong and female connection on the power cord. Remember to test both prongs again with one lead while keeping the other lead on the second female connection of the power cord.

If the multimeter does not beep on any attempt, the power cord may need to be replaced.

If there is a beep from your multimeter, the power cord is providing energy from the outlet to the appliance.

Now you’ll need to test the cable to see if it is shorted. Test the power cord for a short by touching one of the leads to each prong of the AC side of the power cord at the same time.

If the multimeter beeps, the power cord will need to be replaced.

Warning: If you determine your power cord has a short, never re-plug the cord into an electrical outlet. Dispose of the cord according to your local regulations.

damaged wire

Check the Power Reset Button

If you don't find a problem in the power cord, check to see if the reset button was tripped. This can happen when the unit overheats. Check the user manual for the location of the power reset button. It’s usually located on the back. Follow your user manual's instructions to reset the button and try the unit again.

If the oil heats up normally, you still need to keep a close eye on your fryer’s oil temperature to ensure it isn’t overheating. If the button trips again, the problem may be in the thermostat.

Warning: The unit must be completely drained of oil and the power cord removed from the appliance before troubleshooting further. Take standard safety precautions when working with electrical components, and make sure to reference your user manual throughout the process.

Check the Heating Element

Before moving on to the more complicated disassembly of checking the thermostat, take a look at the heating element. Some are easily detachable for cleaning purposes. Check your user manual for instructions on how to handle your heating element.

This component directly transfers heat to the oil. If the element gets damaged, even with a small crack, it can stop working. You can use your multimeter to test the heating element in a similar way to the process you used on the power cord.

The heating element must be completely removed from the appliance for testing.

To test the heating element for damage, set up the multimeter in the same way you did when testing the power cord. Now touch one of the leads to one of the terminals of the heating element, and touch the second lead to the other terminal. If there's no beep from the multimeter, the heating element is damaged and will need to be replaced.

empty electrical deep fryer

Check the Control Assembly

The control assembly contains the control board, thermostat, and connection to the heating element. These parts all work together to heat the deep fryer.

The control assembly can normally be removed as one part, and your multimeter can be used to test the individual parts for continuity. The user manual for your deep fryer should contain information on the correct reading for each part. Unfortunately, if one of these parts isn’t working, the whole control assembly may need replacement.

Why Parts Stop Working

Sometimes appliances receive defective parts, and the mistake isn't caught before they're sold. Make sure you’ve filled out a product warranty registration whenever possible for all of your home appliances. In most cases, regular wear and tear is what causes them to stop working.

Regular maintenance can slow down the wear on parts and extend the life of your fryer. DIY troubleshooting your deep fryer’s parts can help you save money and gain invaluable experience you can extend to other DIY projects.

Troubleshooting an Electric Deep Fryer FAQ

How do I reset my deep fryer?

Many different manufacturers make their own deep fryers and the controls are not always the same but most deep fryers do have a reset button. If you can't see it easily, refer to the owner's manual to try to find out where it is located.

The reset is often out of the way, on the back of the deep dryer, and it is typically quite small. You might need a pen or a needle to press the button.

Why is my fryer not holding temperature?

If your deep fryer is powering on and you can set the temperature and cook time settings but it just will not hold the same temperature, you may have a disconnected wire. Your thermostat might also need to be reset.

How do I test my deep fryer thermostat?

If you think you're having problems with your deep fryer thermostat, turn the deep fryer on and use a probe thermometer to check the temperature of the oil in several places. If the temperature is not consistent, you may need to calibrate or replace your thermostat.

How do you calibrate a deep fryer thermometer?

How you calibrate a thermometer depends on whether it is an analog or digital thermometer. Some thermometers cannot even be calibrated.

Your best bet is to check the owner's manual for your deep fryer, which is probably available online if you have lost your physical copy.

However, as a general rule, it is possible to calibrate a thermometer using boiling water. To do this, boil water in a saucepan.

Place the stem of the thermometer in the water. It should be at least two inches deep into the water.

Wait at least 30 seconds. The temperature should read 212 degrees F.

If the thermometer doesn't read 212, insert it into the water. Turn the adjusting knob until it reads 212 and you have calibrated your thermometer.

How long does it take oil to heat up for deep frying?

Heating times for oil vary depending on how much oil there is and what the ultimate temperature of the deep fryer is set out. However, you can expect oil to heat up enough for cooking in a deep fryer after 10 minutes have passed.