Common coffee maker problems, care and maintenance tips

common coffee maker problems, care and maintenance tips

The electric coffee machine has to be one of the most handy kitchen appliances in use today. People have grown used to the convenience of having hot, freshly ground coffee available at the flick of a switch. However, any coffee machine problems could prevent you from enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning. There are quite a few factors that can affect the appliance's ideal functioning, ranging from serious electrical issues to other problems such as hard water deposits that affect the taste of your beverage. Ultimately, coffee machine maintenance is essential to ensure the productivity of the appliance.

The Working of a Coffee Maker

The 2 most popular types of coffee makers are the drip type and the percolator type. However, the principle behind most electric coffee makers is basically the same. The water chamber or reservoir is filled with cold water that travels through a slim, flexible hose before it reaches the heating chamber. Water in the heating chamber (usually constructed from aluminum) is heated to a temperature slightly below its boiling point. The rise in temperature results in a corresponding increase in the internal pressure within the heating chamber. As a result, the hot water is forced into an insulated pipe which transmits it to the spray head. Water that leaves the spray head will fall directly onto the ground coffee that has been placed in the basket. It then passes through the filter. As the filter gets saturated, the coffee slowly drips into the carafe. A factor that affects this process is the wattage generated by the heating element within the coffee machine. This element determines how quickly the water gets heated, the volume of water that can be heated, as well as the temperature of the water leaving the spray head. The construction material (either copper or aluminum) of the heating chamber can also affect the process as their ability to transfer heat differs.

Drip coffee makers utilize a series of switches and timers within the control panel to heat the water and push it through, so that it drips into the coffee basket. Hot coffee collects in the carafe that has a heating element under it to ensure that the coffee stays warm.

Percolators boil the water placed in the base of the machine. Steam is formed that forces hot water into a tube located at the center of the appliance. This water enters the coffee basket and absorbs the flavor from the coffee grounds. The base of the basket has fine holes which allow the coffee to drip into the main compartment. The percolating system is controlled by a thermostat that switches it off when the correct temperature has been reached.

Over the past few years, new types of coffee machines have entered the market. Most machines feature a built-in coffee grinder to ensure maximum convenience. Other coffee makers utilize thermal carafes that maintain the proper temperature of the brew. Single cup coffee machines are also quite popular as they are capable of making other beverages such as hot cocoa and tea.

However, most modern electric coffee makers seem to suffer in certain aspects. Quite often, they are unable to make sure that the coffee reaches the right temperature. During the brewing process, the ideal water temperature should be 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, but this is not often achieved. This could be due to issues related to the design of these machines, or the use of hard water. Hard water can cause scaling which reduces the heat being transferred into the heating chamber.

Understanding Coffee Maker Problems

There are several different factors that are responsible for causing coffee machine problems and can stop the appliance functioning. In many cases, mineral build ups within the heating chamber or reservoir can cause damage to the appliance. This can also affect the taste of the brew being produced. Gaining an understanding of the causes behind these problems can help you follow an effective coffee machine maintenance process. This can save you the expense associated with constant repair or replacement of the appliance.

If you decide to troubleshoot any coffee machine problems on your own, it is necessary to take all precautions and maintain your personal safety. Before dismantling the coffee maker and probing its components, make sure that it has been switched off and unplugged.

Water Does Not Flow Easily Into the Coffee Maker

This is one of the more common issues that seem to occur with an electric coffee maker. It is, however, a problem that can be solved without too much difficulty in most cases.

The primary cause for this type of problem is any type of blockage or water clog. The first thing to do is check the tube within the coffee pot. If there are obstructions here, or if the tube is clogged, water or any other liquid will not be able to pass through.

You might also have to check that the machine thermostat and timer are in working order.

If these components are fine, you might be dealing with a pump valve problem. A broken or stuck pump valve could easily block the flow of water through the coffee machine.

This problem may also indicate that the coffee machine heater has malfunctioned and is no longer operational.

Coffee Brewed From the Machine Does Not Stay Warm

If the coffee brewed from the machine does not appear to stay warm enough, you will need to inspect the heating element of the appliance. Check the Keep Warm switch of the machine for continuity with an electrical tester. Also make sure that the Auto Shut Off switch is in the proper position during the brewing process.

The Coffee Maker Appears To Be Leaking

In certain cases, it may appear as though your coffee maker is leaking hot water or there may be an excessive amount of steam being released. More often than not, this indicates faulty tubing within the coffee machine. This situation may be easily resolved by making sure that the tubes are correctly installed and are not loose.

The Brew from My Coffee Maker Is Getting Weaker

A fairly common complaint is that the brew produced by the coffee machine keeps getting progressively weaker as time passes by. In most cases, this issue is connected to the plate that spreads water above the coffee basket. If it has developed cracks, or has broken, it will need to be replaced.

My Coffee Machine Makes a Clicking Noise

Sometimes, a coffee machine will develop a noise during the time of operation. Not only is this annoying, but it may also appear to slow down the entire coffee brewing cycle.

If the coffee machine drips extremely slowly and there is a pronounced sound accompanying it, this could indicate blockages in the machine. Dirt or mineral deposits from the water can block the tubing inside the coffee maker. In such cases, the coffee machine needs to be properly cleaned to ensure complete removal of any blockages.

This type of noise is quite common in certain coffee machines which are air pressurized. Any dirt or residue that forms in the coffee maker passages will cause noise and disrupts the brewing process. Although slightly expensive, it may be a better option to use bottled drinking water with your coffee maker. This can prevent mineral build ups that cause noise.

Noises from the coffee machine are also caused if there are any loose components in the appliance. Handling the coffee maker roughly can result in certain parts coming loose or may weaken connections within the machine. Not only are loose parts likely to cause noise, but they will also interfere with the coffee making process and extend it. Check the various parts of the machine to ensure that they are all tightly fitted.

Coffee machines that utilize aluminum tubes are especially prone to scaling in areas that use hard water. This clicking sound gets more pronounced as these tubes get filled with solid calcium carbonate deposits. If this situation is not tackled immediately, it could lead to more serious problems.

Most Coffee machines will have a one-way valve located in the bucket opening or the aluminum pipe. This valve is responsible for pulling in cold water through the aluminum tube and releasing boiling water out through the plastic tube. If any type of dirt or other solid residue is trapped in the valve, it may cause a clicking sound. The valve may be cleaned with a thin instrument or toothpick.

Noises may also be caused if there has been a failure in the heating element of the coffee machine. Usually, this type of failure is permanent and the appliance may have to be discarded.

If the water level in the reservoir is too low, this may also cause a noise. This usually occurs when the appliance has been left on for an extended period of time without being used. It may also be caused if any holes develop in the heating coil.


Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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