How To Fix Your Broken Keurig

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These three steps will fix your broken Keurig and get it working like new again without any special equipment required.

How to fix a broken keurig » how to fix your broken keurig

If your K-cup machine is not working properly, don’t throw it out until you have tried these steps to fix a broken Keurig. This method solves the problem of half-filled cups, sputtering, brewing loudly, or not brewing at all. Once it is working again, you’ll want to deep-clean and maintain it on schedule to keep it working like new.

How to Fix a Broken Keurig

These steps work best when you do all of them, since a Keurig that isn’t working correctly often has more than one clog.

Fixing broken keurig by unclogging the needle

Step 1. Unclog the Needle

Before you clean your Keurig’s needle, make sure it’s been at least 30 minutes since your last brew, so you don’t burn yourself. Then, grab a paperclip and partially unbend it. With the Keurig’s top open, carefully insert the free end of the paperclip into each of the needle’s holes. You don’t need to worry about puncturing anything: this area is all hard plastic. Jiggle the paperclip around in each hole to break through sediment. (If you are uncomfortable using a paperclip, try a Keurig cleaning kit instead.)

Step 2. Dislodge Clogs

Unplug the machine and remove the water tank. Set it aside. Now, standing at a sink, turn your machine completely upside down over the sink basin and give the bottom a few smacks with the palm of your hand. Crazy as it sounds, this helps loosen debris. Many readers have reported water gushing out of their machine at this point because the smacking dislodged hardened sediment within the Keurig’s pump.

Showing the location of the water line on an older keurig is at the top and on a newer keurig is at the bottom
Locate the water line on your broken Keurig. On older models, it is at the top (upper left photo) and on newer ones, it is at the bottom (upper right photo). Put a straw on the tube, wrap it with a cloth, and blow.

Step 3. Dislodge Clogs in the Tube

To dislodge clogs in your older Keurig’s line, turn the machine upside down and put a drinking straw over the spout. In newer models, including the Keurig K-Slim, the spout is under the water tank so you’ll stand the straw over the spout. (See the above photos.) Wrap the juncture with a cloth or paper towel to make it as air-tight as you can. Then, blow hard into the straw to force air through the spout and dislodge any residue in the water tube. As soon as you’ve completed this step, follow the instructions further down to deep-clean your Keurig so you get rid of any buildup that you’ve loosened.

How To Clean It

Cleaning does not require any special equipment and takes around 15 minutes. To clean your Keurig, you’ll need mild dish soap, water, white vinegar, baking soda (bicarbonate), and an old toothbrush.

1. Descaling

Remove any K-Cups or pods in the holder. Some Keurigs require a pod to run, in which case you can put a used one in the holder. Then, fill the water reservoir with a homemade descaling solution made from equal parts cold water and distilled white vinegar. (Or use a commercial Keurig descaling solution.) Immediately begin brewing and dumping out cups until you’ve emptied the entire tank.

2. Rinse and Repeat if Needed

Once you’ve brewed all the descaling solution, rinse the water reservoir and refill it with fresh, cold water. Run this through the machine, dumping each cup until the tank is empty. On the final cup, add a small pinch of baking soda to the brewed cup. If it fizzes, run another tank of fresh, cold water through. If there’s no fizz, you’ve flushed out all of the vinegar.

Fixing a broken keurig starts by washing the disassembled parts

3. Clean the Removable Parts

After descaling your Keurig, remove the water reservoir and lid, along with the stand that supports your cup. Open the top and remove the K-Cup holder—that’s the insert that pops out. Wash the Keurig parts with warm, soapy water. Use an old toothbrush to dislodge any white residue, mineral scale, and lime buildup you find on the water tank or other places. Rinse with clean water, dry with a soft cloth, and reassemble your Keurig.

Tips to Keep it Working Well

Once you’ve put effort into getting your broken Keurig working again and deep-cleaned it, you’ll want to follow the steps below to keep it working like new.

Descale it Monthly

Some models will tell you when to descale it, but others don’t. Those descaling notifications aren’t always reliable, though, so it’s not a bad idea to schedule this task monthly. If your Keurig gets a lot of use—in a busy office, for example—you may need to clean and descale it more often. Signs that your Keurig is due for cleaning include slow brewing or half-filled cups, or if the machine seems louder than usual.

Use Filtered Water

If your Keurig has frequent problems or your descaling notification turns on often, try switching to filtered water instead of tap, which has high mineral content. Water from your refrigerator’s dispenser works fine, or you get a special filtering water pitcher.

Wash the Parts Often

Leaving water in your Keurig’s reservoir overnight promotes mildew growth and leads to mineral buildup in your machine. Make it a habit to empty and air dry the water reservoir nightly. Wash the reservoir and other removable parts weekly in warm, soapy water. If you use a reusable K-cup pod, wash it daily. Also, any time you brew something besides coffee—like cocoa, chai, or soup pods—immediately run an extra cup of plain water to clean your Keurig’s insides and prevent clogs.

Drain Your Keurig When Not in Use

Even when the water tank is empty, there is still water inside your Keurig. If left for more than a day or two—in an office that’s closed for the weekend, for example—that water will cause clogs and lead to mold or mildew. So, unplug it and empty the tank. Wait 30 minutes, then turn it upside down over a sink to drain. Then, leave it empty with the top open to improve airflow.

Troubleshooting Common Keurig Problems

Below are some other common problems with Keurig machines and their solutions.

Unseated Reservoir Magnet

Remove the water reservoir and look on the side where it touches the machine. Make sure the magnet is flat against the side of the tank and at the bottom of its channel. Reseat the reservoir properly.

Keurig Shuts Off Unexpectedly

See if the green Auto-Off button is in service. This setting turns the machine off after 2 hours if not in use (90 seconds in a Keurig mini). Press the black Auto-Off button to disable this feature.

Keurig Won’t Turn On

If your machine doesn’t turn on, you can often fix it by unplugging the machine for several minutes, then plugging it back in. Hold the ON button for five seconds. This step should cause the machine to purge water in the line. If these steps don’t fix your Keurig, contact their customer support.


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  1. Y kuerig will not accept the newer compostable pods

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I don’t know why, it seems like they should’ve designed the pods to work with the Keurig machines.

  2. We bought a Keurig Duo and found out it is really not a great choice for hard water such as ours. We did frequently clean it as directed, but still after only 6 months the pump appears to have failed on it. Unfortunately, Keurig machines are complicated coffee makers with lots of parts and systems that are subject to calcium build up. Basic carbon filters don’t remove hard water minerals. You would need something more like reverse osmosis to even attempt to get better water. Bottled water does this but it’s expensive if you are drinking lots of coffee. Simple coffee makers are much less complicated and also easier to clean. We don’t plan to buy another Keurig since our last Duo model only lasted 6 months.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so sorry you had problems with yours. Hard water is hard on all sorts of appliances. At 6 months, I believe it would still be covered by warranty if you wanted to contact Keurig customer support. (866-901-BREW)

  3. I was decaleing my keurig when it started smoking. I unplugged it and waited awhile before plugging it back in. Now it will not come on. I got it last year for a Christmas present. Any suggestions?

    1. Katie Berry, Cleaning Expert says:

      Oh wow, I’ve never heard of that happening! I’d recommend calling Keurig’s customer support since it’s still within the warranty period. They are fantastic about replacing Keurigs that have stopped working during the warranty. You can reach them at 866-901-BREW (866-901-2739). Don’t use it until you’ve spoken with them.