Keurig Snags And Snaffles – Keurig Troubleshooting 101, Our Essential Rundown

by | Jul 9, 2020

Ah, Keurig. It’s one of those companies that’s pretty much revolutionized the way we prepare and imbibe our daily Joe. With its sheer range of flavors for coffee, black tea, green tea, hot chocolate, cocoa, herbal tisanes, and pretty much any beverage you care to think of, for many homes, it’s become a “must-have” on the kitchen counter.

Did you know it’s that over a quarter of Americans say that a single-serve coffee machine is their favorite way to make a brew? And Keurig leads the field. That’s not to say, however, that Keurig coffee machines always behave as they might.

With so much sophisticated technology under the hood, as it were, occasionally things can go south. So, we thought we’d take a little look at some of the ways to cope with some of the most commonly encountered Keurig troubleshooting issues.

Why Buy A Keurig?

Although the company was founded in the early 1990s, it wasn’t until 2004 that Keurig first made its technology available to the home market. Now, there’s a machine to suit pretty much any small to medium size workplace, domestic environment, dorm room, or RV.

At their best, Keurig coffee makers combine the convenience of instant coffee with the taste profile of drip coffee or filter coffee. The company is known for constantly innovating, and as a result, there’s a vast range of models on the market. From the space-age K-Duo Plus to the K-Elite which has even added iced coffee to the repertoire.

Although Keurig is no longer creating numbered coffee machines, pretty much the whole range is still widely available. There are a few fundamental differences between model types.


Super Short Overview Of Keurig Coffee Machines

The K-Duo Plus, for instance, has a movable water reservoir. You can pretty much position it where you like to make maximum use of your counter space – to the side, to the front, to the rear. While the Plus incorporates a thermal carafe.

Water reservoirs vary in size from 52 fluid ounces to 75 fluid ounces. And if all you need is a small but perfectly formed machine without a water reservoir, then the Keurig K10 Mini will fit the bill perfectly. Some of the reservoirs are removable, some are not, and you need to check which type you’re dealing with when you’re troubleshooting.

The brew size varies too, from 4 ounces to 12 ounces, depending on the machine. And some models have more bells and whistles, or rather buttons and programmable screens, than others. All of these can affect the approach you might need to take to troubleshoot your Keurig.


Keurig Troubleshooting – Some Common Issues

When your Keurig isn’t working, the majority of issues fall into a couple of categories. They’re either mechanical, technical, or (it has to be said) user error. In the first case, if it’s mechanical, this can result in your coffee tasting bad, or at least, not as good as it should.

If it’s a technical error you’re dealing with, your Keurig machine might not even turn on in the first place. And if it’s a user error, then it might be something as simple as not having descaled the machine as often as the user manual recommends or not using the right K-Cups.

I thought it was high time to take a look at some of the regular issues that crop up most frequently. And before you start, I’d thoroughly recommend having your manual and warranty to hand. Oh, and maybe a few towels or napkins just in case there’s more mess to sort out than you were anticipating.

Oh, yes, and another vital tool in your Keurig troubleshooting toolbox is a paperclip. Yes, we really did say a paperclip. Or other items with a sharp point, like a needle or a large thumbtack. It needs to be reasonably long, though. Read on, and all will be revealed…


My Keurig Won’t Turn On

Yeah, it’s really elementary, but it’s a phrase beloved of tech-geeks up and down the nation, indeed around the globe, for a reason. Have you tried turning the machine on and off?

Give it a try with the power button first, and, if necessary, disconnecting from the mains electricity, removing the plug, and switching it all back on again? (My theory is that kitchen appliances, like computers, sometimes benefit from a gentle reboot and a little downtime. We’re not talking about sending them away to the local spa for the day, but a short period off-duty might just help.)

Something else that might mean your Keurig refuses to turn on is mineral build-up in the pipes and components. This can be an especial issue if you’re using water straight from the tap and you live in a hard water area.

There are a couple things you can try here. One is to descale the machine thoroughly. You can either use the proprietary Keurig descaling solution and follow the recommended process. Alternatively, a solution of warm water and vinegar will work.

Then run a few cycles just with water to see if that helps. Or you can try different water – filtered or bottled. Don’t use distilled water, though. Wondering about the reason for that? Well, the sensors in Keurig machines are pretty sensitive. They’re so sensitive, in fact, that they can detect minerals in the water. And this can stop them from working.

You can also try blowing air through a straw around the needle. This should dislodge any little flakes of loose minerals or coffee grinds, though it’s not really an option I’m keen on. I’d usually choose other options ahead of this one if I’m honest.


My Keurig Won’t Turn On/My Keurig Won’t Turn Off

Imagine the scene. It’s cold. You’re tired. You really need that morning boost or that afternoon pick-me-up. And the Keurig won’t turn on.

In this case, start by checking that the plug hasn’t gotten dislodged or a power switch flicked to off inadvertently. Make sure the water reservoir has enough water and is clicked or sealed into place.

Hold in the power button for a few seconds to see if that will bring up the welcome screen. If not, there may be a touchscreen issue.

And if your Keurig coffee machine won’t turn off, again, try holding the power button for a few seconds. As a last resort, you can also try unplugging it, waiting a couple minutes, and then plugging it back in. You might also like to choose a different power socket, just to determine if that’s the root cause.


My Keurig Coffee Machine Isn’t Heating Up

There are a few reasons you might come up against this issue. It could be that the water pump is not working properly. This may be due to debris in the machine including dirt or dried coffee. If that’s the case, a good solid clean is recommended, either with the Keurig descaling solution or with vinegar.


Keurig Not Pumping Water

Vinegar isn’t only good for descaling, it’s also excellent for general cleaning, with a few exceptions. As long as you don’t mind your home smelling a little bit like a traditional fish and chip shop. (What do you think they used in the olden days before we had all these fancy chemicals?)

Another option you can try is to hold down the “brew” button for a few seconds. This should get the pump working at maximum efficiency.


My Keurig Won’t Brew

This is probably one of the most common issues, and there are a few reasons why this might happen. It could be that there’s a build-up of debris in the moving parts or the water or dispenser line. In this case, again, try the cleaning options above.

It could also be that the various parts of the machine aren’t necessarily sitting as tightly in place as they should. This is the bit where you really do need to consult the manual, as every Keurig is slightly different. Two general tips though – make sure anything that should “click” into place is firmly in place and make sure that you’re allowing enough warm-up time for the water.


Hubble Bubble, Toil And Brew

You might also find you’re getting air bubbles and this is affecting the brewing. If this is the situation, then switch off your machine and unplug it. Leave it for a few minutes. Meanwhile, fill the water reservoir to the top and give it a few gentle shakes. This should get rid of any bubbles. (Think of it like very gently ”burping” a baby.)

And while we’re fairly sure this wouldn’t be a mistake you’d make, just check the pods you’re using. Make sure they’re the right technology for the Keurig model you’ve got. This really applies to Keurig 2.0 machines in particular.


Water, Water, Everywhere – Why Is My Keurig Leaking?

Ah yes, water. And the host of problems it can cause. If you’re wondering what the best type of water to use is, well, ideally, if you use soft filtered water or bottled water your coffee will taste especially good. Most tap water, however, will benefit from being run through a filtration system of some kind.


Keurig Not Dispensing Water

Even if you use the best water for the job, sometimes you’ll find that your Keurig coffee maker doesn’t dispense any water at all. Or sometimes you have the opposite issue and the machine leaks. You’ve got 3 main options here.

Before we take a look at these 3 tricks that might just work as a Keurig troubleshooting solution, though, it probably helps to have a clear picture of how your Keurig brewer works.

Basically, the water that makes that delicious beverage has to trickle through a very small needle, which pierces the pod. The water then continues on its merry way through the pod, and the pressure produces the fresh-tasting final brew.


Top 3 Tips To Stop Your Keurig From Leaking

One of the selling points of K-Cup pods, after all, is that they keep your drink tasting freshly brewed due to the way they’re packaged. So, what are those 3 options again? If you want to try to stop your Keurig from leaking?

Number 1 – descale. We know, we mention this a lot. It could be due to having lived in hard water areas quite a lot. It really can help, though. Hard water is something of a menace for building up scale in your machine and other domestic devices.

Not only can it clog up the moving parts and prevent the water from running as freely as it should, but it can also mean the life of your coffee maker is shortened.

Number 2 – Run the brewing cycles without any pods, just with clean water. This can also help flush the system. You might need to do this a few times.

Number 3 – And then there’s the paperclip trick. (While we’re on the subject, does anyone remember Mr. Clippy? He was one of those Marmite characters, you either loved him or hated him.) Anyway, back to the paperclip plot! Keep it handy, keep it clean, and unplug the machine. Then gently unclog the drain and the dispensing spout of the Keurig device.


How To Deal With “Add Water”

If you’re regularly getting “add water” messages even though it looks like there’s enough water in the reservoir, try cleaning the water tank thoroughly as well. You may need to drain it thoroughly first. Give it a wash in warm water with a little dish soap, and rinse well with clear water.

And if that doesn’t work, you may need to check with Keurig’s customer service team. They can help you establish if the pump needs repairing or replacing, or if it’s time to look at a new coffee maker. We’ve put their details at the end.


How Do I Unclog My Keurig?

There’s a whole host of issues that might arise to prevent you from enjoying your usual level of great service from a Keurig. One of the very common issues, however, no matter what model you have, is how to unclog your Keurig. This can often be the key to sorting out all kinds of problems.

These problems might range from your Keurig not brewing; it refusing to turn on or switch off too little water being dispensed; or, conversely, it leaks, which we covered a little earlier. When you think about it, those little moving parts have to work really hard to get the coffee through those tiny pods. It’s no wonder that on occasions a little coffee gets stuck in there.

The recommended solution here is to gently remove the grounds from the dispensing line with a paperclip. Do make sure, though, that you’ve turned the machine off first.


Still Leaking….

Sometimes, however, none of the tricks above will sort things out. And in that case, it might be a case of something a little more complex under the hood. Sometimes, the upper gasket in the machine might be out of alignment.

The gasket is the bit that fits snugly around the needle in the machine. The needle is the mechanism that pierces the pod and through which the water runs.

If you’re having an issue with leakages, check the placement of the gasket. Ensure it hasn’t slipped out of place and that the seal between the K-Cup and any incoming water is perfect. You might find that moving the gasket down by about ¼ of an inch closes the tiny gap between the needle and the K-Cup.

In some extreme cases, the gasket may also have become lost or perished, in which case you’ll need to think about purchasing a replacement. We’d recommend talking to Keurig first if that’s the case unless you’ve got experience in this area or you know someone who has.


More Technical Keurig Troubleshooting

Still coming up against Keurig troubleshooting issues? Tried everything? Has nothing worked so far? Feeling real brave? You can also consider looking into disassembling the machine and replacing the pump.

Be aware that if it’s a new machine you’ve purchased or a reconditioned model with a warranty, then it’s likely this would invalidate the warranty. I’d only suggest even looking into this approach if everything else has failed, or if you’re looking for a project to keep you occupied.


Different Keurig Models, Different Approaches

There are so many different ranges of Keurig coffee makers it can get a little bewildering. So, if you have one of the following models, the key to sorting out that “won’t turn on” or “won’t turn off” sticking point might vary.


Keurig Special Edition/Keurig Platinum

If you’re the proud owner of a model in this range, and your machine keeps turning itself off for no apparent reason, check your Auto-Off. If this is set, the machine will turn off all on its own.

If you want to switch this off, you’ll need to access the Auto-Off program via the menu. Look for the left-hand button (small cup) which needs to be pressed a few times. When it says “Off”, the “Auto Off” has been disabled.

While it’s unlikely that machines in this range will suddenly stop in the middle of a brewing cycle, it’s not unknown. If this happens, check the magnet on the water reservoir. Occasionally it can get dislodged via the vibrations from the brewing process.


Keurig Mini

If the brewer has been left unattended or has had nothing to do, for over 90 seconds, it will turn off under its own steam, as it were. To get it started again, you’ll need to press the Power button. You might need to hold it in for a few seconds.


Keurig Elite

If the Auto-Off green light is lit up, it’s fairly likely the brewer is going to turn itself off automatically after 2 hours. That’s if there’s been no activity.

Want to disable the “Auto switch off”? Press the Auto-Off black control; this button will turn off that persistent green light.


Landed In Hot Water – Only Not Hot Enough For Coffee

The recommended brewing temperature for coffee, suggested by many coffee associations around the globe, is between 195 degrees and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. And in theory, Keurig machines should hit this sweet spot pretty much every time.

The only thing is, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they even get stuck in preheat mode. And if this fate befalls your Keurig coffee maker, try cleaning the needle and adding hot water to the water reservoir rather than cold.


What To Do When You Get the Keurig “Prime” Message

And then, sometimes, the “Prime” message pops up. In this case, make sure that everything is nicely clipped in place. Then try removing the filter, refill and try again with the brewing process. You might also need to turn the machine off and gently “burp” any little air bubbles that have gotten trapped.


Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink

We didn’t think Samuel Taylor Coleridge would mind us adapting the words of his poem a little for this one. It’s quite a problem, it seems, with some models of Keurig. Rather than the coffee grounds ending up where they should, which is still in the K-Cup, they end up in your cup.

In this case, we’d advise cleaning the needle to make sure the pod is being punctured correctly. You could try a different batch of pods too.

If you’re using your own choice of ground coffee in one of the reusable pods, don’t fill them too full. You could also try using a coarser ground blend. Unless, of course, you’d like a stronger cup of coffee.

If that’s the case, give more finely ground coffee a try, or even a darker roast. The reusable pods can potentially save you hundreds of dollars across the year, but it’s probably going to take you a little trial and error at first.


My Keurig Carafe Won’t Work

Firstly, have you got the correct carafe for the machine? Since you have to buy the carafe separately from a Keurig coffee machine, make sure you consult your manual or your supplier before you purchase. And check that the drip tray is removed so the carafe has enough space.

If you’re using K-Carafe pods, are they compatible with your machine? Also, is the carafe firmly in place? Only the 2.0 series will accommodate this type of pod.


Finally, Our Top Five Tips For Clever Keurig Troubleshooting

That’s the run-down, then, of some of the most common Keurig troubleshooting issues. More often than not, the problem can be solved by giving one of the following a try. First, try descaling and cleaning the machine thoroughly.

Second, try running a few brewing cycles through the Keurig machine with clean water on its own, no pod in place. Don’t use distilled water though, for reasons we’ve already covered.

Third, make sure all the parts of the machine are connected correctly. And check that any water reservoirs have at least the minimum recommended amount in them. If there’s a magnet in the reservoir, check the placement.

Fourth, make sure the coffee maker is getting enough warm-up time. They may look sturdy, but Keurig coffee makers are marvels of delicately balanced engineering. And the water needs to reach a certain temperature to be effective at brewing your coffee.

Five, check that you’re using the right type of pods and/or coffee grind for your Keurig coffee maker. And if you’re brewing into a carafe or a travel mug, is there enough space under the spout for your drinking vessel?


Keurig Troubleshooting – Bonus Suggestion

Bonus suggestion, check that the nozzle isn’t blocked. Have your handy little paperclip ready and waiting. I mean, who doesn’t have a whole little container of paperclips in their home, just waiting to be pressed into service?

Where socks disappear in a household, paperclips sometimes seem to materialize out of thin air. Hm, maybe that’s what happens to all that stray hosiery in the laundry basket; they don’t disappear after all, but somehow transform… (We know. Technically, that’s six tips. But who doesn’t love a bonus?)


Last Resort

If all else fails, you can always get in contact with Keurig themselves. To contact Keurig’s customer care directly, their number is 1-866-901-BREW (2739).

It’s a toll-free helpline, available from 7 am to 12 am EST 7 days a week. Or if you prefer there’s always the option of contacting them via their online form.

Whatever option you choose, troubleshooting your Keurig as appropriate for the issue can prolong the life of your machine. And even more importantly, troubleshooting can keep your coffee tasting fresh and delicious. Whatever the time of day or occasion.

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