Most coffee machines work by dripping hot water through coffee grounds and a filter. The water then absorbs flavor from the coffee before flowing into your cup or carafe underneath. But, of course, that process can’t happen if the coffee machine isn’t dripping, to begin with.
A coffee machine will not drip if there’s no water in the tank or the tank’s one-way valve is stuck. Besides that, a ball valve in the hose can restrict water flow and cause the same issue. Impurities in the water can also clog the machine’s hoses entirely, while a failed heating element will also stop all dripping.
Your coffee machine isn’t dripping right now, but it won’t be that way for long. Read this guide to know what’s causing the problem and how to get that machine dripping like usual again.
Why Is My Coffee Maker Not Dripping?
A coffee maker that refuses to drip can be a massive disruption to your morning routine. Here are the reasons that’s happening and what you can do to get coffee flowing again:
Water Tank Issue
What it does: Your coffee’s story begins at the water tank. All coffee makers have one, though they’re sometimes referred to in the user manual as water ‘reservoirs’ instead.
The tank holds enough water to fill at least one carafe, if not more. The water sits in the tank, ready to be boiled anytime.
Some coffee machines have a built-in water tank, while other tanks are removable for easy cleaning.
When that happens, the water will travel through hoses and eventually drip onto the coffee grounds to produce hot coffee ready to drink.
How it fails: When troubleshooting your coffee maker that’s not dripping, it’s best to start at the beginning, i.e. the water tank. Here, the problem is likely that the tank is empty or its one-way valve is stuck.
Without water in the tank, there’s nothing to boil and drip over your coffee. Meanwhile, a stuck one-way valve will prevent water from exiting the tank and supplying the coffee maker.
How to fix it: Firstly, ensure you’ve filled your coffee machine’s tank with water. Then, inspect the one-way valve at the bottom of that tank.
Over an extended period, there might be a buildup of impurities around the valve that prevents it from moving. Clean those impurities and press on the valve a few times to ensure it can move normally again.
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Faulty Ball Valve
What it does: Aside from the one-way valve at the water tank, there’s another valve inside your coffee machine’s hose. It’s typically referred to as a ball valve, ensuring water doesn’t flow backwards in the machine.
Thanks to the ball valve, water can only flow in one direction from the water tank, through the hoses and heating elements, and then to the machine’s top, where it drips down onto your coffee grounds.
How it fails: The ball valve in your coffee machine’s hoses can fail for the same reason the one-way valve failed at the water tank. Any water you fill your coffee machine with will have small amounts of impurities. That might include specs of dust and minerals like magnesium.
After using the coffee maker every day for many years, those impurities build up around valves and stop them from working correctly.
How to fix it: You can fix a faulty ball valve the same way you’d fix a stuck one-way valve at the water tank. The solution is to clean away buildups around the valve and to move the ball a few times to ensure nothing obstructs it.
Unfortunately, that’s trickier to do with the faulty ball valve. This valve, in particular, is typically located inside the coffee machine behind its panels.
So, you’ll have to unscrew the panels and carefully inspect the hose to find and clean that valve.
What it does: The water from your coffee machine’s tank goes through quite a journey before it lands in your cup as coffee. Then, as you read, it goes from the water tank and drips down your coffee grounds.
Along the way, that water passes through the valves, the heating element, and one or more hoses.
How it fails: Earlier in this guide, you’ve also seen impurities’ effects on moving parts like the coffee machine’s valves. Unfortunately, impurities and even coffee grounds can also cause severe clogs in the hose itself.
A clogged hose will stop water flow right in its tracks. As a result, nothing moves through the coffee machine far enough to drip down onto the coffee grounds.
How to fix it: The water hoses in your coffee machine are typically split into different sections. In other words, it’s not just one very long hose.
So, you first need to remove the machine’s panels and inspect the hoses. You must first identify the clog’s location so you’ll know which hose section to detach.
Once you do that, you must flush that hose from both sides to loosen the clog inside.
Alternatively, you can use a small brush to push the clog through to the other end of that hose.
Failed Heating Element
What it does: The heart of your coffee machine is its heating element.
Most machines have a single heating element that plays a double role. Firstly, it heats the warming plate (if your model has one) underneath the carafe to keep your coffee hot.
Secondly, it boils the water passing through from the water tank on its way to drip over your coffee grounds.
Besides heating the water, that second reason is also critical for another reason. As the water boils, it becomes hot enough to rise to the top of your coffee machine, where it’ll drip down onto the coffee grounds.
How it fails: The final reason your coffee machine isn’t dripping is that the heating element has failed. As you saw above, the heating element doesn’t just boil the water to make it hot.
It also does that so the water can finish its journey by rising to the top before dripping down through the coffee.
As such, a failed heating element means the water doesn’t get hot enough to reach the top.
How to fix it: Coffee machine heating elements rarely fail. But when they do, they’re not repairable or serviceable. The only practical solution is to replace the heating element with a new one.
If you’d like to be extra sure that the heating element is dead, use a multimeter to check it for electrical continuity. A lack of continuity means it no longer works.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Check out these often-asked questions to understand your coffee machine’s habits even better:
How Many Times Can You Use Drip Coffee?
You should only use your drip coffee once before using new coffee grounds and a new filter. The more you reuse the same coffee, the weaker the flavor. Besides that, keeping used drip coffee for too long slowly turns it toxic.
How Does A Drip Coffee Maker Work?
A drip coffee maker works by boiling water with a heating element. As the water bubbles and boils, it rises to the machine’s top, where it drips down onto fresh coffee grounds.
As the water passes through those grounds, it extracts flavor that ends in your cup of coffee.
How Long Does It Take For Coffee To Drip?
A coffee machine will only need a few minutes to boil the water and drip coffee out into your cup or carafe. Once the carafe is full, the machine will keep it hot for at least a few hours, often shutting itself off automatically later.
Do Coffee Pots Stop Automatically?
Yes, coffee pots eventually stop automatically. Some machines are set to shut off after 2-3 hours. However, more advanced machines allow you to set how long you’d like the pot to stay on.
What Is A Carafe In A Coffee Machine?
A carafe is a glass or metal container that stores coffee as it drips from your machine. Once the carafe is full with a batch of coffee, you can leave it on the machine’s warming plate to stay hot or use it to serve coffee at the table, counter, or wherever you’d like.