Having a coffee maker at home is one of life’s great pleasures. Not needing to go to a cafe whenever you feel like coffee is, without a doubt, worth the coffee maker’s weight in gold. But the fact of the matter is, any coffee maker you buy— whether it’s the most expensive machine in the store or the least expensive online— will eventually face issues in one way or another.
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Luckily, most of the issues you’re likely to face are easily fixed with a little troubleshooting. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the most common issues that Keurig users face, how to fix those issues, and how to do so quickly so you can get back to making (and drinking) coffee!
What Is a Keurig
A Keurig refers to various coffee makers made by the US manufacturer, Keurig. Keurig is not only the name of a coffee maker but a brewing system complete with its own coffee pods, named K-cups. There are multiple different models of Keurig machines— each with their own features, brewing sizes, and configurations.
Benefits of Keurig Coffee Makers
Keurig offers dozens of different machines— which means the benefits of using a Keurig machine is very wide. From the single-cup Keurig K-Slim to the robust classic— the Keurig K55
(Keurig k55 has been tested by tens of thousands of users and remains to be one of the most popular coffee makers on Amazon), each machine has its own benefits. The following points apply to nearly all Keurig offerings.
Incredibly Easy to Use
First of all, a capsule-based coffee maker like the Keurig is extremely easy to use. No need to grind, no need to stand there and brew the coffee, and no need to invest in more, often expensive, brewing gear. Simply choose your K-cup, add it to the machine, press a button, and watch the coffee flow!
Fresh Coffee With Nitro Sealed Pods
Anyone that has bought a bag of freshly roasted coffee knowns that coffee can’t stay fresh for long. This is especially the case when the coffee is pre-ground. Oxygen gets into the coffee and starts to destroy its delicate flavors until the coffee, eventually, becomes a shadow of its former self!
The way Keurig and other manufacturers of K-cups get around this is that they flush their K-cups with nitrogen before sealing them. By flushing the K-cups with nitrogen, the oxygen is removed from the pod and is locked out. This means that the ground coffee within, which would normally go stale in a day or two, can last for many months.
Variable Brew Sizes
Being able to brew different cup sizes is a must for all home coffee makers. From brewing a small espresso-style cup to brewing a full-sized travel mug, most Keurig coffee makers offer variable brew size control. Some even offer the ability to brew an entire thermal carafe of coffee— great for busy mornings or offering coffee to guests.
Compact and Organised Home Coffee Solution
Keurig brewing systems offer everything you need to brew quick and easy coffee at home. Not only are Keurig machines super convenient, but they also look great. You can organize your shelf by using coffee pod holders, creating a nice little coffee station in your own kitchen. Look at the Keurig k475 vs k575 similarities and differences to see what works best for your home coffee brewing needs.
How Does a Keurig Work
Keurig coffee makers work by inserting a capsule known as a K-cup into the brewing head of the machine. The machine punctures holes in the K-cup, on both the top and the bottom of the K-cup. Hot water is then forced through the K-cup in a similar fashion as to what a traditional espresso machine does. This water is forced through under high pressure, extracting the coffee within the K-cup, which then flows into the mug, which is placed below the coffee outlet.
Keurig coffee makers work in a similar way to Nespresso coffee makers— both require their own capsules of coffee, both use water that forces its way through the pod and into the coffee cup below. The biggest difference between Keurig and Nespresso is in the machines themselves.
Nespresso machines traditionally house only a single brew method— Nespresso pods. Keurig, on the other hand, offer machines known as dual coffee makers— machines that offer two different brew methods within one machine. This might mean a K-cup coffee maker and a regular drip coffee maker.
Pros and Cons of Keurig Coffee Makers
Like all brew methods and coffee machines, there are pros and cons to each. Of course, your idea of pros and cons may differ, but it’s still good to take into account all factors when deciding on a machine.
- No extra equipment. No need to bother figuring out how to grind coffee without a grinder — using K-cups, the coffee is already ground and sealed within a K-cup, ready to be brewed.
- Price. Most Keurig coffee makers are very affordable.
- Variety of flavors. There are hundreds of different K-cup coffees to choose from, roasted by a number of different roasters and manufacturers.
- Quick and easy. The average K-cup takes about 30 seconds to brew!
- No delayed start timer. Unlike the Barisuer coffee brewer and alarm clock combo, most Keurig coffee makers do not offer a delayed start timer for K-cup brewing.
- Lack of specialty coffee. Unless you use reusable K-cups, you’ll only be able to use the coffee that comes in K-cups. Unfortunately, there are very few, if any, specialty roasters that utilize K-cups for their coffee.
19 Most Common Keurig Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them
As mentioned earlier, any appliance, whether it be a Keurig coffee maker brewing K-cups, or a food processor whizzing up food, you will eventually run into problems with the way the machine is functioning. Luckily, the most common issues you’ll find with Keurig coffee makers are easily fixed with a spring cleaning of the machine.
With coffee and water running through the machine daily, there are oils and minerals that can build up, blocking pipes and water inlets and outlets.
For issues that are a little trickier to solve, continue reading below!
Keurig Isn’t Brewing Coffee
Many users have had issues where they turn their machine on, wait for it to heat up, and proceed to add a K-cup and attempt to brew a cup of coffee. They press the brew button and wait. They wait. And wait. The machine says it’s brewing, but nothing is happening!
This is pretty much always to do with mineral, particularly calcium, a build-up with the pipes of the machine. You may have noticed a similar calcium build-up on shower doors or inside your kettle. This is exactly the same thing. Calcium build-up like this is most common in cities with hard water. The pipes become blocked up, meaning water can no longer pass through.
This is an easy fix— simply decalcify your machine using the instructions below! It’s super easy to do and will nine times out of ten save your machine!
Keurig 2.0 Won’t Turn On
If your Keurig 2.0 won’t power on, there a couple of things you can try before resorting to calling Keurig customer care. First, check to make sure the power is turned on, both at the outlet and at the power button on the machine. If this doesn’t work, check to make sure it isn’t the outlet causing the issue. Try a different outlet, or plugin another appliance into the outlet to make sure the power at that particular point is working.
When it comes to issues with power, and when electricity is involved, it’s best not to mess with things too much. If none of these work, give Keurig customer care a call and see what they recommend.
Keurig Turns On/Off on Its Own
Most Keurig coffee makers have a neat little function where it will turn itself off after a set amount of time. This is helpful not only to save electricity but to prolong the life of your machine, too. So if your machine keeps turning itself off, it is more than likely because this feature is engaged.
To check if the auto on/off feature is engaged, look at the auto-off light on the machine. If this light is illuminated, the function is engaged.
Turn this function off is a little different for each machine. For machines with a dedicated auto-off button, simply press the button to toggle the control. For machines without a dedicated button, like the Keurig K-Cafe, try turning the machine off, then pressing and holding the stong + 10oz buttons. The lights on the machine will illuminate, including the auto-off light. The auto-off light will then go off. The auto-off function is now disengaged.
Keurig Only Brews a Little Bit of Coffee
Oh no! Only half a cup! What could be worse? Luckily, a Keurig only brewing a small amount of coffee is easily fixed. Chances are there is either not enough water in the reservoir, or the water isn’t making it through the machine properly, meaning the machine needs to be descaled. Be sure the water tank is topped up, and run the descaling cycle as mentioned below. This should fix the problem.
If this doesn’t work, try cleaning the exit needle of the machine. Take an unfolded paper clip and poke it gently into the needle. This should unblock the needle of any debris that is clogging it.
If none of the above work, it is time to call the Keurig customer service line at 1-866-901-BREW(2739).
Keurig Won’t Stop Leaking
There are two possible reasons why you have a leaky machine on your hands (or kitchen counter, to be precise). The most simple cause might be that the water reservoir has been overfilled, or that the tank isn’t housed in the machine correctly.
Check the water line on the machine— make sure it isn’t past the max line and re-seat the water reservoir. Also, make sure your water tank isn’t cracked or damaged.
Next, we need to check the water pipes. Now, we’re spoken a fair bit about minerals from water blocking the pipes within the machine. Minerals can also fix the valves and seals in the machine open, too. To fix this, run a descaler through the machine.
Coffee Tastes Bad
Making tasty coffee requires three things: good, clean water, delicious coffee, and clean brewing equipment. If your coffee is coming out tasting sub-par, it is almost certainly because one of these three things is off.
First, we’ll check the most obvious thing— the coffee itself. It is impossible to make a coffee taste good if the flavors aren’t in the bean, to begin with. Try a different K-cup. If you find the coffee tastes burned, try a lighter roast. If you find the coffee tastes sour, try a darker one.
If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your Keurig, now is certainly the time! Run a descale cycle, as mentioned below. You should taste a dramatic improvement in the flavor of your coffee immediately after doing this.
If your coffee is good, and you’ve cleaned your machine recently, you can move onto the next step: water.
Ensure the water you are using is clean and tastes good. If your water isn’t up to scratch, look into picking up a water filter. Britta water filters are common, good, and reasonably well priced. You might be surprised at how big of a difference using the right water can make.
Error Message “Add More Water” Stays On
An ‘add more water’ error message on a machine with a full tank is likely to do with the water tank itself, or the water sensor. Give these tips a try.
Remove the water tank, wash it with soap and water before rinsing it well. Refill the water reservoir to the max line and re-seat it back into place. Note: be sure that the water tank is seated correctly.
If this doesn’t work, try descaling your machine. Descaling the machine can really do wonders for most parts of the machine— for all we know, minerals are clogging somewhere in the water pipes!
This may sound odd, but if all else fails, give your empty water reservoir a good vigorous shake up and down a few times. Some users have had an issue with the sensor on the water tank becoming stuck. Shaking can help release the sensor.
Keurig Keeps Shutting Off
First up, try the good old tried and true method of turning the machine off and on again. Try unplugging the machine, then plug it in again. Remove the water reservoir and re-seat it back into position. This is often enough to fix the issue.
If this doesn’t work, the issue may be power supply related. Best to leave it to the pros at Keurig— give them a call on their customer care line at 1-866-901-BREW(2739).
Keurig is Making Weird Noises
Whether it’s a strange gurgling or a much too loud brewing sound, this is usually to do with a blockage or build-up somewhere within the machine. Because Keurig machines do use pressure to brew, if one of the pipes is clogged, one of the symptoms may well be odd noises coming from the machine.
Run a descale cycle. This will clean out the pipes and should have you brewing, good as new!
Keurig Isn’t Heating
If the heating element on your Keurig has stopped functioning, there isn’t much we can do. But before we give up, let’s try a few things first!
First, turn off the machine and unplug it. Then plug the machine back in. Remove your water reservoir, fill it with water, and correctly fit it on the machine. Re-seating the water reservoir can restart the heating element in the machine.
If this doesn’t work, again, like almost all issues with most coffee makers, give it a clean! The issue may be due to a build-up somewhere. Descaling can fix a myriad of issues, including heating and boiler issues (because water, and therefore minerals, come in contact with the heating element).
Keurig Leaves Coffee Grounds In the Cup
This issue is usually caused by a blockage in the exit needle of the Keurigs brew head. This is a simple fix, with the only required tool being a paperclip.
Lift the brew head (where the K-cup goes) and you will see the needle that punctures the K-cup. Take your unfolded paper clip and slide it into the exit needle. Gently move the paperclip around, attempting to remove any debris that may be clogging the needle. Once you’re satisfied that any blockages are no more, run a water cycle through the machine.
There is one more thing you can do to make sure this issue is fixed… you guessed it! Descale your machine! These blockages only occur in machines that haven’t been cleaned for a good while. Descaling doesn’t take long and only needs to be done once every 2 or 3 months.
Keurig Dispenses Too Much Coffee
A Keurig that dispenses the incorrect amount of liquid is usually to do with a blockage somewhere in the system. Either minerals and coffee debris have clogged the exit needle shut, or mineral build-up is keeping a valve open for too long. Either way, there are 5 things you can try.
- First, simply turn the machine off then on again. Try unplugging the unit from the wall, wait 5 seconds, then plug it back in and turn it on.
- Second, make sure your water reservoir is seated correctly on the machine.
- Third, take a paperclip, just like in the troubleshoot above, and see if there is a blockage in the exit needle.
- Fourth, try running a tank full of water through the machine (with no K-cup in). This may flush out any coffee or hot cocoa debris.
- Finally, if none of the previous steps work, try running a descaling cycle.
Keurig Touch Screen Not Turning On
Touch screen issues seem to be a fairly common problem for many Keurig 2.0 users. To fix this issue, you’ll need a square or two of paper towels, or a napkin, and some Windex. Simply spray some Windex on the paper towel (not too much) and wipe the screen, so it is nice and clean. As you are doing this, the touch screen will likely turn on and your problem will be solved!
Keurig Isn’t Dispensing Water
This sounds like a textbook issue of either an incorrectly seated water tank or a blockage somewhere down the line.
If the water tank isn’t seated properly, the machine won’t detect it’s presence. Turn off the machine, remove the water tank, fill it up, and seat it back into place. Turn the machine on and hope for the best. If this doesn’t fix the problem, see the next point below.
Blockages like this call for a nice spring clean descaling! Water contains minerals that can clog any part of the machine they come into contact with, weakening havoc on a shiny new Keurig. A descale cycle clears out any mineral build-up that is blocking the pipes.
Keurig is Stuck on Preheating
If your machine is stuck in preheating mode and won’t move onto brewing, there may be an issue with the water nozzles that provide the water to the K-cup. To fix this issue, we can try two things: we can use a paperclip to attempt to clear the water nozzles and exit needle, and we can run a descaling cycle. We’ll go through the water nozzle clearing first, as this is the easier option of the two, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll move onto the descale.
- First, turn off your machine and let it cool down a little. If we don’t take this very first step, when we go poking around at the water nozzles, hot water may pour— not ideal. So let the machine cool a little.
While the machine is powered off, lift the brew head and you will see the exit needle and water nozzles next to it. Take an unfolded paper clip, slide it into the nozzles, and gently move it around a little. Then move onto the exit needle. This should clear any blockages in the water nozzles and exit needle, allowing the machine to brew like normal.
- Next, we can try a descale cycle. As mentioned extensively in this troubleshooting guide, descaling the machine really can fix most issues once every 2 to 3 months and you’re golden!
Keurig Isn’t Resetting
If you Keurig doesn’t want to reset, there are a couple of things you can try before calling the customer service line. Try powering the machine off, unplugging, removing the water reservoir, lifting the brew head, and just letting the machine sit for a while. An hour or two should be fine. After a couple of hours, close the brew head, fill and re-seat the water tank, plug the machine in and turn it on. This should have done the trick.
If this fix doesn’t work, it may be an internal computer or electronic issue. Give Keurig customer service a call.
Keurig Says Brewing But Nothing Comes Out
Another clogged needle or blocked pipe! An easy fix! Use a plain white vinegar or a descaling solution and run a descale cycle through the machine. The acidity in the solution will dissolve any mineral build-up and get you brewing coffee again!
Keurig Is Brewing a Weak Cup of Coffee
The funny thing about coffee is that what some people call too strong might be what others consider too weak, and vice-versa. The first step in fixing weak coffee is trying a different coffee. Try a slightly darker roast. If you’ve tried a few different coffees, including K-cups that are known for being strong, and they all seem like they lack strength, there may be an issue with your machine.
A watery coffee can be caused by a blockage in the exit needle. If the needle can’t properly puncture the lid of the K-cup, the water might, instead of flowing into the K-cup and infusing with the coffee, flow over the lid and directly into the mug below. This will water down the coffee and cause it to taste weak.
This issue can be fixed by clearing the exit needle using a paperclip. Turn the machine off and let it cool. Take an unfolded paper clip and gently insert it into the needle. Gently move the paper clip around, trying to clear any debris that may be stuck. Once you’re happy that the needle is clear, turn the machine back on and run a water-only cycle.
Try brewing again. If your cup of coffee still tastes weak, like before, there may still be a blockage that is causing the issue. Try running a descale cycle.
Keurig Is Making Air Bubbles
At times, you may see your Keurig making air bubbles as it brews. This is often caused by air being trapped within the water lines. To fix this, turn of the machine, then unplug it. Fill the water reservoir and, this is going to sound odd— give the machine a few gentle shakes. This can pop the air bubbles, and in turn, allow your coffee to flow smoothly once again.
How to Descale Your Keurig
Through this article, and all over the troubleshooting section, you’ll see descaling mentioned a lot, mostly as a solution to over half of the problems. Why does descaling a machine fix so many issues? Descaling is essentially the act of using acid to clear minerals and oils from the insides of the coffee maker.
Because water is full of minerals, and coffee is packed with oils, the insides of any coffee maker can become blocked up after prolonged use. This is a problem because once the pipes become too blocked, water can’t pass through them. And without water, we have no cup of coffee!
Descaling is super simple and should be done once every 2 or 3 months. You can descale your Keurig using vinegar or a purpose-made descaling solution made by Keurig. If you’re ever having issues with your Keurig, and it’s been more than a month since you last descaled, run a descale cycle through to see if this fixes the problem.
Let’s get to it and return that Keurig to its former coffee brewing glory!
Step 1 — Remove the reservoir
First, we need to remove the water reservoir from the machine. If your machine’s reservoir has a filter, take out the and set it aside. Empty the water reservoir.
Step 2 — Fill the reservoir
Next, we’re going to add our vinegar to the reservoir. Fill the tank with 14oz of plain white vinegar. Vinegar is super acidic— just what we need to remove all the nasties that have built up in the system. Once you’ve added the vinegar, re-seat the reservoir back onto the machine.
Step 3 — Begin descaling
Now we’ll run this vinegar through the machine. We do this just like we would when brewing coffee; only we won’t use a K-cup this time. Place a large mug under the coffee outlet. Press the brew button and let the vinegar flow into the mug below. Pour the vinegar down the sink, or reuse for other cleaning purposes. Do this until the machine notifies you that the water tank needs to be filled.
Step 4 — Wait
Now that there is vinegar within the pipes and insides of the machine, we are going to let the machine sit, powered on, for 1 hour. Make sure your auto-off feature is turned off.
Step 5 — Rinse
After 1 hour, come back to the machine and empty the remaining vinegar from the water reservoir. Rinse the reservoir and fill it with fresh water. Run 2 or 3 (depending on how much time you have and how much you dislike the taste of vinegar!) full tanks of fresh water through the machine in the same way as we did with the vinegar.
Step 6 — Finish descaling
Refill the water reservoir with fresh water and re-seat it back on the machine. Your Keurig should now be nice and clean and ready to brew again!
How to Advance Reset a Keurig
If you are noticing your Keurig behaving strangely, and you suspect it may be the computer within the machine glitching, you can perform what is known as an advanced reset. This can solve multiple problems that just unplugging the machine won’t fix.
This step-by-step guide applies to Keurig machines that feature a touchscreen:
Step 1 – Simultaneously press the ‘small’ and ‘medium’ mug buttons
Release these buttons at the same time. Immediately after releasing the ‘small’ and ‘medium’ buttons, press the ‘menu’ button 3 times. The clock should now read ‘6:09’.
Step 2 – Press the ‘menu’ button again
The display will now read ‘brew 0:00’ press and hold the ‘medium’ mug button. Then press and release the ‘menu’ button. While still holding the ‘medium’ mug button, press and hold the ‘small’ mug button. Now release both buttons at the same time.
Step 3 – Unplug the machine for a few minutes
Now unplug the machine for a few minutes, then plug it back in. If done correctly, your machine has now reset.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to coffee, and premium K-cups, spending more usually means a higher quality coffee. The same rule applies to Keurig coffee makers. This rule, though, only applies up to a certain point. While the best Keurig coffee maker might not be the cheapest one, you certainly don’t need to buy the most expensive one to get a reliable machine. It is best to just choose a machine that has the features that suit you. So long as you look after the machine with consistent descaling, the machine will look after you.
Do’s and Don’ts When Keurig Troubleshooting
- Do choose the highest quality coffee beans you can find. A cup of coffee will only be as good as the beans that go in.
- Do clean your machine regularly. Descaling will prevent most problems from occurring.
- Do look at the variety of coffee you are buying, if that information is available. A coffee’s taste depends on the type of coffee it is, so choose a coffee variety you enjoy.
- Don’t clean or descale your machine with dishwashing detergent. Only the removable parts can be washed with soap.
- Don’t give up on your machine! If you are having issues with your Keurig, try these troubleshooting tips— hopefully, there is something that can help you get back up and running!
FAQ About Keurig Troubleshooting
How do you reset a Keurig?
A simple reset can be done by turning off the machine, removing the water tank, unplugging the machine from the wall and waiting a few moments. Then, re-seat the water tank, re-plug in the machine, and turn it on. An advanced reset can also be done— the step-by-step guide is outlined above!
How do you fix a clogged Keurig?
Descale! Running an acid, such as vinegar, through your machine will clean pretty much any clog or block you’re likely to find in the pipes of a Keurig. See the detailed step-by-step guide above.
How do you fix a Keurig that won’t dispense water?
This is almost certainly due to a water line being blocked. Run a descale cycle or try clearing out the exit needle using a paper clip. Steps for both fixes are outlined above.
How long should a Keurig last?
Most Keurig coffee makers come with a one year warranty. But that doesn’t mean you should expect your machine to only last one year! Look after your machine by descaling it regularly and you should keep it up and running for about 5 years, give or take.
Can you leave water in a Keurig?
You should only leave water in your Keurig for a couple of days. Any longer than that, and it is best to remove the water and drain the machine.
All coffee makers will eventually face issues with prolonged use. These tips should get you out of the woods and back to brewing coffee as soon as possible. If we’ve learned anything here, it’s that the most important thing to do to keep a machine performing well is keeping it clean. Descaling every 3 months and using quality water is the key to a happy coffee maker!