How to Troubleshoot a Coffee Maker

Updated February 21, 2017

While many types of coffee makers now exist on the market, the drip maker remains a popular choice with many households. These units work by pushing water from a reservoir filled with cold water through a one-way pump valve into aluminium tubing inside the heating element. When water boils inside of the heating tubing, the bubbles push it into the basket of coffee grounds and finally through the coffee grounds and into the carafe below. Troubleshoot drip coffee machines by ensuring that the electronic elements work and that the valves and tubes remain free of mineral build-up or scale.

Plug the coffee maker in to make sure you can turn on the unit. A complete lack of power might indicate a bad outlet or your coffee maker's power cord or on/off switch might have gone bad.

Check to see if water runs into the pot when the brewing cycle starts. If no water reaches the coffee carafe, the one-way pump valve might be stuck in an open or closed position, the tubes might be full of debris or the unit's thermostat might be broken.

Carefully touch the carafe to ensure that the water is hot. If the water isn't heated or fails to stay warm, your coffee maker's "keep warm" switch or heating coil might be bad.

Look carefully at the machine's seals and tube connections if you notice water leaking from the machine or excessive steam. Make sure you didn't overfill the water carafe; this can also cause spilling and leaking.


If the outlet lacks power completely, try resetting the circuit breaker to restore power to the area. Cleaning your coffee maker regularly with special cleaners available for this purpose or with vinegar can help keep your machine in peak condition. Use a toothpick to remove debris stuck in the one-way pump valve. Unless you possess moderate electrical skills, repairing the heating elements of your machine can be expensive and somewhat time-consuming. You might consider replacing the machine if you determine these items are broken.


Tubes and valves inside of your coffee maker can become clogged with mineral deposits. Running vinegar through the machine once and then cycling water through the machine to flush it out can help remove these deposits. Make sure you unplug the unit before opening it to check on valves, thermostats and other internal components.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Toothpick
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About the Author

A former children's librarian and teacher living in Dallas, Erin Carson loves to share her knowledge of both literature and parenting through her writing. Carson has a master's degree in library science and a bachelor's degree in English literature. As a freelance writer, Carson has published numerous articles on various websites.