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Keurig Troubleshooting: How to Fix Common Keurig Problems

Keurig machines are famous for producing consistent coffee day after day. But that doesn’t mean that these coffee makers are entirely problem-free. Whether it’s wear and tear or manufacturing quirks, all kitchen appliances have their issues. 

Here are some answers to how to fix a Keurig.

How a Keurig Coffee Maker Works

We know that the whole point of having a Keurig is that you don’t need to know anything about making coffee. Still, understanding a little about how your machine works is a BLESSING. It will see you in good stead for when you find your Keurig not working. 

While there are plenty of different models in the Keurig original and Keurig 2.0 ranges, the fundamental mechanisms are the same. There are two essential parts to the Keurig brewing process – the machine itself and the brand’s unique K-Cups.

The K-Cup is inserted into the chamber, ready for the brewing process to begin. It is punctured at the top by an upper needle, allowing hot water to enter. It’s simultaneously punctured at the bottom to allow the brewed coffee to exit into your cup. When you press the button to brew, water from the cold-water reservoir is pumped into the heating chamber. 

Once the water reaches the optimal temperature, it’s pumped to the brewer, where it passes through the grounds in the K-Cup. 

Despite being a capsule coffee maker, the Keurig uses an extraction method similar to drip coffee. This is compared to Nespresso coffee makers, which use pressure extraction identical to an espresso machine.

Common Keurig troubleshooting issues

Below, we’re listing 11 common problems you may encounter with your machine.

1. My Keurig won’t switch on.

It may seem simple, but if your coffee maker isn’t turning on, you should double-check all of the apparent solutions first:

  • Check that the power cord is plugged into the socket properly
  • Check that the power socket is functioning by testing other appliances
  • Test the Keurig machine in a different outlet

If this doesn’t work, try these steps:

  • Hold down the power button for 10 seconds.
  • Unplug the machine and remove the water reservoir. Let your Keurig sit unplugged for one hour before reassembling and switching on.

If you have tried all of the above, and the machine still won’t switch on, it’s time to contact Keurig customer care (1).

2. My Keurig is not heating water.

This problem happens if your coffee maker appears to be dispensing water properly, but it is coming out cold. This may not be a problem with the heating mechanism itself – instead, it switches off for safety reasons if it’s not pumping water correctly. The first thing to try with any electrical issue is to switch the machine off and on again. This may help reset the heating mechanism.

The water may not be pumping correctly due to clogged or dirty pipes. You can fix this by using our cleaning instructions below. If it is an issue with the water pump, try holding the brew button for five seconds. This will force the pump to work at maximum power. If none of these steps resolves the issue, you may need to replace the water pump in your Keurig machine.

3. My Keurig is stuck in preheating mode.

After switching your machine on, it will take around 3 minutes to preheat before brew. But if it takes much longer than this, there could be an issue with the machine. The first thing to try is switching off and unplugging the machine to kickstart the preheating process again. 

If that doesn’t work, there is an unofficial hack that could solve the problem. Some users have found that filling the reservoir with hot water will force the machine into brew mode. Keurig recommends only using cold water in the tank, so you should attempt this solution at your own risk.

4. My Keurig is not dispensing water properly.

You may find that you press the brew button on your Keurig one day and discover that you don’t end up with a full cup of coffee. You can quickly diagnose this and just as simple to remedy.

Over time, the water line in your machine will become clogged with debris and coffee grounds. This means that only a small amount of water will pass through during the allotted brewing time. You can fix this by giving your machine a good clean using our instructions below. After you have unclogged the water line manually, you can run the machine on a brew cycle using water only to rinse out any final bits of debris.

If the descaling doesn’t help, try this method instead:

5. My coffee contains grounds.

This is another issue that’s simple to diagnose and repair. Coffee grounds in your cup are signs that your machine needs cleaning – the exit needle in particular. Over time, the grounds from K-Cups can gather in the exit needle, which are then pushed along the water line and into your cup. This is particularly true if you brew hot chocolate or other sweet drinks, as the sugars can make the needle sticky. 

To remedy this, you need to clean the needle either with the Keurig tool or a paper clip. Then run the brew cycle with water only until there are no residual grounds in the water that comes out.

If you have grounds in your coffee when using a reusable K-Cup, the problem may not be the needle. Check that the capsule is closed correctly, that it is not overfilled, and that you are using the recommended grind size (2).

6. My Keurig is leaking from the bottom.

To determine the best course of action, you’ll need to discover where the leak is coming from. If your machine is leaking from the bottom even when it’s not in use, the most likely scenario is a leak in the cold-water reservoir. To confirm this, remove the reservoir and see if the water has pooled underneath. Then hold the reservoir over the sink and see if any water leaks out. 

The bottom of the reservoir has a small rubber band known as an O-ring. If this is broken or misaligned, water can leak directly from here. You can replace an O-ring easily yourself, but you just need to ensure that you get the correct size. If the water reservoir itself is cracked, you’ll need to order a replacement tank from your Keurig supplier.

7. My Keurig is leaking when brewing.

If the water only leaks during the preheating or brewing cycle, there are a few reasons. The first is simply overfilling the water reservoir, which can be easy to do with machines like the K-15 Mini. It could also be a matter of the machine being clogged, in which case a good clean will remedy the issue. 

Another common cause of leaking is a loose or broken upper gasket. This is a silicone part that creates a tight seal between the K-Cup and the water hose. Check that the gasket is correctly aligned by closing any gaps between the puncture needle and the K-Cup. If the piece is broken or missing, you’ll need to order a replacement. 

If neither of these two solutions fixes your leakage issue, the cause is most likely a broken valve or hose somewhere inside the machine. This will require you to contact customer care.

8. My Keurig switches off mid-brew.

Keurig coffee makers have several safety features that will automatically switch off the machine. This is to prevent damage to the machine or prevents leaks on to your counter. To fix this problem, you need to find out what the machine detects as being a safety issue. 

The most likely culprit is that the reservoir is not seated properly. The vibrations of the brewing cycle can cause the water tank to shift slightly, disrupting the connection between the magnetic contacts. The machine then assumes there is no water tank attached and will switch off. Switch off your machine and unplug from the socket before removing the reservoir. After five minutes, put the machine back together, ensuring that the magnets have full contact.

Some Keurig machines have an auto shut-off feature set to switch off the machine after a certain period of inactivity. Check that this feature’s timing is assigned to an appropriate period, or turn this feature off entirely.

9. “Add more water” error message

If you have sufficient water in the reservoir but are receiving this message, there is an issue with the machine not detecting the water level correctly. Try filling the reservoir to the maximum level to see if this corrects the problem. 

If not, remove the reservoir and empty it. Then thoroughly clean it with soapy water and rinse well. Check the valve at the bottom to ensure it is not clogged. Reseat the tank, making sure it is sitting correctly, then fill to the maximum level.

10. My coffee tastes bad

If the taste of your Keurig coffee has suddenly changed for the worse, this is usually a sign that your machine needs a good clean. It could be a case of limescale build-up from the water supply or reside from the coffee grounds stuck in the machine. Both of these will affect the taste of your coffee. Follow our instructions below for both descaling and cleaning removable parts.

If you have recently cleaned your machine, this might also be the problem.

Residue from the descaling solution or vinegar may linger in your water reservoir or the hoses. In this case, you will need to empty all of the water from the machine, then run a few cycles using only fresh hot water. If you left a filter in the machine during the descaling process, this might have absorbed the vinegar or cleaning solution, and you will need to replace it with a fresh one.

If it’s more of general dissatisfaction with the quality of coffee that you’re brewing, try some of these tips:

  • Use filtered or bottled water for brewing
  • Alternatively, add a water filter to the machine
  • Try a reusable K-Cup, which will allow you to brew with fresh grounds (and more of them)
  • Choose a smaller cup size when brewing for stronger coffee
  • Remove your coffee cup early to avoid catching the last watery drips

How to clean a Keurig

Unless there is a broken part or specific electrical problem, many of the common issues you’ll encounter with the Keurig can be solved with proper cleaning. There are two parts to this: descaling and cleaning the removable parts.

Descaling

Regular descaling is just part of the joy of owning a coffee maker. Depending on the water you use, calcium carbon deposits known as limescale will build up inside the machine (3). This problem isn’t limited to coffee makers but also affects kettles, water pipes and boilers. Limescale needs to be removed as it can damage the machine and change your coffee’s taste. And sadly, giving it a regular rinse is not enough. 

Scale is non-toxic but if left unattended can hinder brewer performance.

You’ll need to descale your Keurig every 3-6 months, but possibly less often if you use filtered or bottled water and more often if the water in your area has high mineral content. 

To descale your machine, start by tipping any existing water out. Then add an entire bottle of descaling solution to the reservoir, followed by an equal amount of water. Alternatively, you can use a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Do not use both the descaling solution and vinegar. 

Run the machine on a brew cycle without a K-Cup inserted. Repeat the process until the reservoir is empty. Let the machine sit with the power on for 30mins (4 hours after vinegar) before switching it off and removing and rinsing the water tank. For detailed instructions, visit our guide on how to descale a Keurig.

Cleaning the removable parts

Just as important as describing the machine is cleaning the removable parts, which you will need to do even more regularly. When cleaning any of these parts, make sure to wait 30 minutes after your last brew cycle to allow the machine to cool.

Each week you should be removing the water reservoir, the lid, the K-Cup holder and the drip tray. You need to wash these in warm soapy water with a soft cloth. Some parts are claimed to be dishwasher safe by Keurig, but washing by hand will avoid any accidental damage. Rinse well and leave to air dry. Drying with a cloth may cause lint residue, which could clog the machine or end up in your coffee. 

For many of the solutions above, we have recommended cleaning the needles and the waterline. You can do this as often as required. To clean the exit needle:

  1. Start by removing the pod holder from the brewing chamber.
  2. Remove the funnel to expose the tube on the underside of the pod holder. Straighten one end of a paperclip, and gently insert this into the tube, jiggling it to remove any debris.
  3. Rinse under running water and leave to air dry.

The entrance needle will need to remain in the machine for cleaning. Look on the underside of the brew head, and you will be able to see two holes. These can be cleaned in the same way as the exit needle. Just be careful during this process as the needle is very sharp.

How to clean a Keurig needle
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You can clean the water lines using a plastic straw. 

Make sure to do this over a sink to avoid any mess.

First, locate the spout that passes water from the reservoir into the machine. Tip the machine upside down over the sink, then hold the straw up to the spout, creating a seal with your hands. You could also use a damp paper towel. Blow sharply into the straw to help free any debris that’s trapped in the hose. After reassembling, running a brew cycle with clean water should flush out any remaining grounds or waste.

Final thoughts

Even if your Keurig is running smoothly, it’s essential to clean and maintain it for now. Regular descaling and cleaning removable parts can prevent many of the issues you might encounter, as well as extending the life of your machine.

FAQs

The best Keurig coffee maker for you will depend on your needs and budget. We like the Keurig Elite for its versatility and programmable features. But you can check out our full guide to the best Keurig coffee makers here.

Yes, you can make iced coffee with Keurig machines. Extract a shot of coffee over a mug of ice, then add milk and sweetener to taste. The Keurig K-Elite has a special “Iced” function that brews a strong shot suitable for iced coffee.

The biggest difference with the Keurig 2.0 compared to classic models is that the 2.0 will only brew with Keurig-brand K-Cups. The machines do feature some additional functions, such as brewing larger cup sizes, including carafes of coffee.

  1. Gary, John, Robbin, & Don. (2020, November 22). Fix your Keurig: Troubleshooting problems & solutions. Retrieved from http://mykup.com/fix-keurig-problems-troubleshoot-issues-solutions-tips/
  2. Here’s how to get the most out of your REUSABLE K-CUP. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2021, from https://www.deathwishcoffee.com/blogs/news/reusable-k-cups
  3. How to remove limescale from tap water? – tapp water. (2020, September 11). Retrieved from https://tappwater.co/en/limescale-tap-water-filter/
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I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight.  Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.

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