Keurig Not Working: A Comprehensive List of Troubleshooting Tips to get You Brewing Again

keurig not working - bad coffee

Imagine waking up, walking groggily into the kitchen, popping a pod into your Keurig, and all your Keurig brews are a few drops of foul-tasting coffee, or even worse, nothing happens at all.   Your Keurig is not working.

We’ve all been there.

Keurigs can encounter a number of problems, from the machine refusing to power on to water leaking all over your counter, or a ridiculously small cup of coffee being produced. 

Let’s take a look at some common problems that can cause your Keurig to stop working and how to fix them with easy solutions that don’t require any complex technical skills.

How a Keurig Brewer Works

First of all, let’s take a look at how a Keurig brews coffee in general.

Keurig designed its coffee makers to brew a single cup of coffee at a time. A coffee pod, commonly known as a K-cup is inserted into the brewer and you select your brew strength.  Next, small pins are inserted into the cup, and hot water is forced into the tiny holes.  The freshly brewed coffee then runs out of the small hole in the bottom and into your cup. 

It’s that simple and convenient.  Unfortunately, convenience comes at a price.  If any one of the components of the brewing process fails, you are left with a substandard cup of coffee, or worse, no coffee at all!

What’s wrong with my Keurig?

Now that we have gone over how your brewer works, let’s do a little Keurig troubleshooting and diagnose some of the common problems and see what could cause your Keurig to stop working.

Problem: My Keurig Is Not Brewing Coffee 

If all the lights are on and your Keurig is not brewing any coffee at all, there is a good chance the issue is with the pump.  If the Keurig is not pumping water, it can’t brew coffee. If your machine is not pumping water, a number of culprits may be the cause. So how do you fix a Keurig that won’t brew?  Let’s take a look.

Machine Pieces Are Not Properly Seated

The first Keurig troubleshooting tip is to make sure all of the components are in the correct place and are seated properly.  Often you will find that the water reservoir is slightly out of alignment.  Properly seating the water tank may be all you need to do to start brewing again. 

Insufficient Warm-up Time

Keurig coffee makers are meticulously designed and all of the parts have to work in sync in order for the machine to brew.  The water must be preheated before the Keurig will pump it into the coffee chamber. 

You can try using the “spanking” method to loosen any debris that may be preventing the water from warming up. 

First, unplug the machine and plug it back in, then turn it off and on again.  Place the water reservoir in the Keurig if it is out and press and hold the brew button for several seconds, allowing it to dispense water from the reservoir.  Next, remove the drip tray and turn the machine upside down over the sink to pour out the remaining water.  Finally, tap, or “spank,” the bottom of the machine a few times to loosen and remove any coffee grounds or debris that may be stuck inside the machine. 

Air Bubbles In the Water Line

To remove air bubbles lodged in the waterline, first fill the water reservoir.  Next, turn off the Keurig brewer and unplug it.  Give it a few gentle shakes to dislodge any trapped air preventing the machine from pumping properly.

Too Much Scale or Debris In Your Line?

The first thing to try is to run plain water through the machine a few times without a k-cup inserted.  

If this doesn’t work, limescale may be your culprit.  The build-up of mineral deposits can eventually clog your line and significantly reduce the water that can get through or in extreme cases, it can prevent the Keurig from dispensing water completely.  

So, how do you fix a clogged Keurig?  

Keruigs need to be descaled regularly, especially if you live in an area with hard water. If your Keurig is not dispensing water, check for other signs of hard water in your home.  Have you noticed crusty grey gunk on your shower head lately?  If so, you have hard water and it’s time to descale your coffee maker. 

A number of internet hacks tell you to descale with vinegar, and while that can be effective, Keurig does not recommend it, and using vinegar could void your warranty. Vinegar also doesn’t always get the job done.  If you have already cleaned your Keurig with vinegar and it’s still not working, you probably need a stronger descaling agent. 

Not to worry, Keurig makes a descaling solution designed specifically for their machines.

How to descale your Keurig

  • Empty the water reservoir completely
  • Fill the water reservoir with a descaling solution mixture (follow the directions on the bottle). 
  • Brew several brewing cycles to empty the reservoir of solution
  • Allow the machine to sit for 30 minutes
  • Empty any remaining solution out of the reservoir and clean it thoroughly
  • Unplug the machine and clean the dispensing line with a paperclip to remove any leftover coffee grounds or debris
  • Fill the reservoir with fresh clean water
  • Brew several brewing cycles (a full reservoir’s worth) to thoroughly rinse any remaining detergent from the machine

How To Prevent Scale Build-up

Limescale build-up typically happens because of frequent usage and the quality of water used in your brewer. If you have hard water or use your Keurig several times a day, you will need to descale often to avoid clogs. 

Using filtered water will reduce the amount of mineral deposits that build up in the machine and will considerably improve the quality of your water.  Some Keurig models come with a water filter but we still recommend using filtered water in the reservoir.  Double filtering the water this way will ensure a reduction in mineral deposits and leave you with a great-tasting cup of joe.

Fixing a Clogged K-cup Holder 

The slot where you insert the K-cup can also become clogged, causing the machine to stop brewing.  

A cogged K-cup holder is a quick and easy fix. Simply lift the handle, grab the sides of the holder assembly and push it up, and pull the holder assembly out of the machine.  This will remove the K-cup holder assembly as well as a base from the brew head. 

Press the side release buttons to separate the K-cup holder and wipe away any debris from the interior of the holder, the base, and the housing using a damp, soapy cloth.  Rinse everything thoroughly, because no one wants soapy coffee, and reassemble the K-cup holder assembly and place it back into the machine.  

Finally, run a cycle of clean water through the Keurig and you should be ready to go.

Fixing a Clogged Needle

Keurigs come with a needle that is designed to puncture the lid of the K-cup so the coffee can be extracted.  These needles can easily become clogged with fine coffee grounds or mineral deposits. 

A clogged needle can cause your Keurig to only brew small amounts of coffee, or in extreme cases, not brew at all.

Luckily, this is a relatively easy fix too.  

Thoroughly wash all of the removable parts of the K-cup assembly.  Push the lever of the K-cup holder up to reveal the needle. Use a straw to blow air into the needle.  The pressure from the air can push away any coffee grounds blocking the needle.  

If blowing air into the needle is not enough to clear the debris, you can then use the straw to put hot water and vinegar into the needle to dissolve any mineral deposits.

Reassemble the holder assembly and place it back into the brew head.  Then run several brewing cycles with clean water to clear any left over vinegar or debris.

Cleaning the Needle

If your Keruig still isn’t brewing after the straw and vinegar trick mentioned above, you will need to use the more aggressive paper clip tool method. 

  • Remove the plastic K-cup holder from the brew head
  • Locate the tiny metal needle that punctures the bottom of the K-cup
  • Use the paper clip tool to slowly remove anything blocking the hole (some Keurigs come with a plastic needle to use for this task, if not you will need an actual paper clip)
  • Bend the paper clip and carefully insert it into the needle, while holding it under running water (be careful not to break the needle)  
  • Next, locate the tubes underneath the handle lid (there are several)
  • Use your paper clip tool to unclog the tubes
  • Reassemble the brew head and run clean water through several brewing cycles

After running several brewing cycles, your machine should be ready to start brewing again.

Try a Quick Reset

Have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in?  I know, I know, those irritating words you so often hear from technical support.  

All jokes aside, sometimes all your machine needs is a quick reset.  But where is the reset button?  Well, there isn’t one, so let’s take a look at how to reset your Keurig. 

  1. Turn off the Keurig and unplug it for a few minutes
  2. Remove the water reservoir and wait a few more minutes
  3. Plug the machine in and press the power button
  4. Place the water reservoir back into the machine
  5. Open and close the K-cup holder

Your machine should now be reset.  

Problem: My Keurig Is Not Resetting

While resetting your Keurig is not difficult, you will sometimes get an error message. This error message could be the result of several issues.  Your Keurig may not be assembled properly, it may have damaged or dirty parts or your internal computer system may have a malfunction. 

If the basic reset isn’t working, you will need to try the advanced reset method.

Advanced Reset Method

The advanced reset method may be necessary, especially if your Keurig has a digital display.

  1. Press the small and medium cup button at the same time and then release at the same time
  2. Immediately afterward, press the menu button three times (the clock should now read 06:09)
  3. Press the menu button once more and the display should change to “brew 0:00”
  4. Next, press the medium cup and menu buttons simultaneously
  5. Release the menu button while continuing to hold down the medium cup button
  6. While continuing to hold down the medium cup button, press the small cup button
  7. Release both the medium cup and small cup buttons at the same time
  8. Now, unplug the Keurig for several minutes
  9. Plug the machine back in 

Your internal computer system should now be reset.

Problem: My Keurig Is Pumping Water Continuously

This issue typically occurs when debris gets into the water tubes.  Limescale build-up is most likely to blame.  Descale your machine using the instructions given above.  You should also remove and thoroughly clean the water reservoir as well and follow the needle cleaning procedure mentioned above.

Problem: My Keurig Is Leaking

You are running late for work, turn to grab your morning brew, only to discover that your counter is covered in water.  A leaking coffee maker is just plain inconvenient.  

Overfilling the Reservoir

This one may seem obvious, but the water reservoirs have a fill line for a reason.  If you overfill the water tank, your machine is more likely to leak.

The Reservoir Is Leaking

If water is leaking from your cold water reservoir, you may need to purchase a replacement tank.  To see if your tank is leaking, first, make sure the reservoir is properly seated.  Machines with magnetic components can easily become dislodged causing a number of issues. Next, remove the reservoir and see if there is any water in the well underneath it. Finally, hold the reservoir over the sink to see if any water is leaking out. 

If the reservoir itself is not leaking, your gasket may be the problem.

Leaking Gasket

If you have checked your water reservoir and find it is not the source of the leak, your gasket or o-ring may be to blame.  

There is a small ring at the bottom of the water reservoir that helps to prevent leaks.  It is similar to the ring inside a water hose and can easily be replaced with a new one. 

The gasket is located at the top of the machine, around the puncture needle. The gasket creates a seal between the cup and the puncture needle, ensuring that water is pumped directly into the K-cup instead of onto the counter. The gasket may have become misaligned.  Move the gasket around until it creates a good seal on the K-cup.  If you find your gasket is missing, you will need to replace it before the machine will function properly. 

Keurig Leaks While Heating

This problem is usually caused by overfilling the water reservoir, a clogged needle, or using an incompatible coffee capsule.   

First, make sure the water in the reservoir is below the fill line.  Next, make sure the K-cup you are using is compatible with your machine. Using incompatible pods can cause unwanted damage to your machine and in some cases void your warranty. Finally, try cleaning the needle and K-cup holder following the directions we discussed earlier and Overfilling the water reservoir 

Brewing Problems

Problem 1: My Keurig Only Brews a Little Bit of Coffee

It’s a sad morning when you walk over to your Keurig to get your first cup of coffee to find that there is only a tiny amount of coffee in your cup. 

In this case, a clogged Keurig is most likely to blame. 

Your machine is probably only partially clogged since it is still brewing some coffee so you may be able to fix the problem by running several cycles of clean water, without a K-cup, through the machine to loosen and remove the clog.  If that doesn’t work, go through the steps mentioned above for cleaning your Keurig. 

Problem 2:The Coffee Tastes Funny or Weak

If your regular coffee starts to taste off, most likely, it’s time to descale your Keurig. Limescale build-up or changes to the water you use to brew your coffee can significantly alter the taste.  Build up of coffee oils can also affect the flavor of your brew so regular cleaning is a must.  

You should always make sure to thoroughly clean your Keurig every 3-6 months using the instructions listed above. 

If you have recently cleaned your machine and the coffee still tastes off, there could be a few other causes. 

If you accidentally left the filter in the machine when you performed the cleaning cycle, it will have absorbed the solution used to descale the machine.  Make sure you always replace the filter with a clean one each time you clean the brewer. 

If you forgot to thoroughly rinse the water reservoir after cleaning, some of the descaling solution could still be in your coffee.  First, empty the reservoir and thoroughly rinse it.  Then, run several brewing cycles without a K-cup to remove any leftover solution in the line.

Finally, if you cleaned your machine with vinegar, the plastic components in the machine may have absorbed some of the vinegar smell, which can wind up in your brew.  Using the descaling solution recommended by Keurig will help avoid this problem. 

Problem 3: My Keurig Dispenses Too Much Coffee

First, make sure that the water reservoir is seated properly.  Next, place a measuring cup on the drip tray and run a water-only brew cycle to see exactly how much water is being dispensed. If it is still dispensing too much water, make sure your water filter is installed properly.  

Next, turn your Keurig off and unplug it. Carefully cleaning the needles.  Plug the machine back in, power it on, and run another clean water cycle into the measuring cup.  If your Keurig is still dispensing too much water, you will need to contact Keurig’s customer service. 

Problem 4: My Keurig Shuts Off Mid-brew

Nothing is more annoying than your Keurig randomly shutting off while your coffee is brewing.  

The first thing you need to check is the water reservoir.  The vibrations caused by the brewing cycle can cause the water reservoir’s magnet to get dislodged over time.  This will interrupt the brewing cycle.  Luckily, all you need to do is place the magnet in its correct position and resume brewing. 

Problem 5: My Keurig Leaves Coffee Grounds In the Cup

No one wants to find coffee grounds floating in their cup.  Worse yet, taking that first sip from your travel mug only to get a mouth full of grit. There are several things that cause the grounds to overflow into your morning brew and all of them are relatively easy to fix. 

  • Using an incompatible coffee pod – make sure you use K-cups compatible with your particular model
  • Improper positioning of the coffee pod
  • A clogged needle – follow instructions we discussed earlier for unclogging the needle
  • Using soft water – Keurig recommends using either bottled or tap water in its brewers 
  • Refilling a reusable K-cup with the coffee that is the wrong grind size

How to Use the Universal My K-cup

Keurig has their very own My K-cup for individuals who want to brew their own coffee in their Keurig brewers.  If you prefer to use locally roasted coffee from the mom and pop coffee shop down the street, the My K-cup is a great option.

To use the My K-cup, first remove the lid from the filter so the basket is exposed.  Fill the basket with coffee, ground to a medium grind (fine grinds like espresso can cause a blockage or allow sediment to leak into your cup). Place the lid back on the filter basket and insert it into the K-cup holder. Be sure to thoroughly clean the filter with soap and water between each use.

Electrical Problems

Problem: My Keurig Turns Off or On By Itself

The main cause of a Keurig turning off or on by itself is the built-in timer.  Here is how to check the timer on several of the Keurig classic models:

  • Keurig Mini – the brewer turns off automatically after 90 seconds.  You will need to press the Power button to restart it.
  • Keurig Elite – If the green Auto-Off indicator light is illuminated, the brewer will automatically turn off 2 hours after its last brew. You can disable this function by pressing the Auto-Off button again (the indicator light will then turn off).
  • Keurig Special Edition and Platinum – These brewers also have Auto-Off functions.  To disable this function, go to the Auto-Off programming on the menu. Press the small cup button until the screen says ‘Off.’  This means the automatic shutoff feature is now disabled. 

Problem: My “Add More Water” Message Stays On

First, make sure your water reservoir is properly filled.  Even if you can see some water in it, the water has to be at the minimum fill line in order for the machine to work.  

If the reservoir is filled to the appropriate level, you may need to clean it.  

Take the reservoir out, clean it thoroughly with soap and water.  Refill the water tank to the maximum fill line and re-insert it, making sure it is properly seated. 

Now, check to see if the error message is still on.  If so, you will need to call Keurig’s customer service. (If you have a Keurig 2.0, a simple reset may resolve the issue)

Problem: Keurig Touch Screen Not Turning On

First of all, make sure the power outlet is working properly.  I personally have been very frustrated with an appliance, only to discover a flipped breaker was my issue.  Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing, but it happens to the best of us. 

If the outlet is receiving power and the power button on your Keurig is on, you will need to reset the machine using the directions mentioned earlier.  

Luckily, most Keurig 2.0 problems, including this one, are easily fixed with a reset. 

Other Problems

Problem: My Keurig Isn’t Heating

Your Keurig is dispensing water, but it’s cold water.  Unfortunately, that just isn’t going to get the job done. A Keurig that is not heating could be caused by a number of problems but the most common issues are:

  • The Pump is not functioning properly
  • The heating element in the machine shuts down due to overheating because the pump is malfunctioning
  • Limescale or coffee grounds are clogging parts of the machine, causing it to malfunction. 

First of all, if you haven’t cleaned the machine lately, thoroughly clean and descale your Keruig using the instructions we mentioned earlier.  If you recently cleaned your machine, or cleaning doesn’t fix the problem, try holding the ‘brew’ button down for a few seconds so the water pump can work at maximum efficiency. As a last resort, you may need to contact Keurig customer support to have the pump repaired. 

Luckily, most, if not all of these problems can be avoided with regular descaling and cleaning. 

Problem: My Keurig Is Making Weird Noises

We all know Keurig brewers are pretty noisy in general but sometimes you hear a noise that just isn’t right.  Acting quickly can save you the headache of having the machine repaired or even replacing it.  

If your Keurig starts making a grinding noise, you are on the verge of having a pump problem…this is if you don’t already have one.  

The grinding noise happens when there is debris build up in the pump itself. 

Take the water reservoir out, empty it, and refill it about ⅓ of the way.  Next, shake vigorously to remove any debris at the bottom of the reservoir. Pour the water out and locate the opening where the Keurig pumps the water out of the reservoir and remove any debris with a soft damp cloth.  Finally, descale the brewer to remove any debris that has made its way into the brewer itself. Rinse thoroughly, and you most likely just extended the life of your Keurig. 

When All Else Fails, Contact Customer Care

If you have tried all the troubleshooting tips above and are still having problems, it’s time to contact Keurig customer care. You can call them 7 days a week between 7 am – 12 am EST at

1-866-901-BREW (2739).  If talking on the phone is not your thing, they also have a contact form available.

Avoid Problems In the First Place

I know we have already said it about a hundred times, but regularly cleaning and descaling your Keurig brewer can help you to avoid many of these problems in the first place.  Once you have fixed your problem, start a regular maintenance routine to avoid future issues. 

Another simple thing you can do to avoid issues is to empty your brewer before if you will not be using it for a few days.  Leaving water sitting in the reservoir for a week while you are on vacation can intensify the build-up of limescale. 

If you forgot to empty the reservoir before travel, just be sure to descale the brewer before using it again.  

Keurig FAQ

What’s so special about a Keurig?

The two main selling points for Keurig coffee makers is convenience and speed. While a drip coffee maker is limited to coffee, a Keurig can be used to brew coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or even produce hot water for instant oatmeal, and ramen noodles. 

Keurigs are also fast.  You can brew any of these beverages in only 60 seconds and a wide variety of K-cups are available so if the coffee drinkers in your home prefer different roasts, a Keurig is a great way to go. 

Is a Keurig better than a regular coffee maker?

By ‘regular coffee maker’ we assume you mean a drip coffee maker. Well, it depends on your personal needs.  The Keurig brews a lot faster than an automatic drip coffee maker but it can only brew one cup at a time.  If there is only one coffee drinker in the house this could be a huge time saver.  But if you have multiple coffee drinkers a drip coffee maker may be more convenient.  

Can Keurigs become moldy?

While mold is not a common issue, it can grow, especially if the water is left in the machine for an extended period of time.  Mold can easily be avoided with regular cleaning and descaling. 

How long do Keurigs last?

The short answer is around 5 years but if you want to learn how to extend the life of your Keurig, check out this article

Can you leave water in your Keurig?

If you use your Keurig to brew daily, leaving water in the reservoir is fine but if you are heading out of town and don’t plan to use the machine for a few days, you should empty the reservoir to avoid excess limescale build-up. 

Does Vinegar Kill Bacteria in a Keurig?

Vinegar will not kill all of the bacteria but it will kill most of them.

How do I remove the vinegar taste from my keurig?

If you have run several brew cycles with clean water and your coffee still has a vinegar taste, first make sure you change the water filter.  As a last resort, dissolve a little baking soda in the water in the reservoir and run it through the machine. To avoid this issue in the first place, use Keurig’s descaling solution instead of vinegar. 

Can I put bleach in my keurig?

While we know that bleach kills everything, we don’t recommend it for cleaning your coffee maker.  Bleach is very dangerous if ingested and you run the risk of some of it making it into your coffee if you use it to clean your brewer.  

Final Thoughts

Keurig coffee makers are loved in many kitchens and offices throughout the world. They are multi-functional and a great choice for any fan of specialty beverages. 

Waking up to a machine that has stopped working out of the blue can be surprisingly daunting, so it’s always better to be prepared for the unexpected. 

We have provided you with a lengthy troubleshooting guide on how to diagnose and treat a few of the most common Keurig problems. Hopefully, we have solved your problem, but if not, it may just be time to upgrade your machine. Luckily we have a solution for that too!

Keurig articles….

Keurig K-Elite: The new and upgraded K-575

Keurig K-55 vs. K-250: Which brewer is better?

How Long Do Keurigs Last: Tips for extending the life of your single-serve coffee maker

Keurig K-50 vs. K-55: Which single-serve coffee maker is best?

The 10 Best Kona Coffee K-cups