Coffee machines have one or more lights on their control panels. Unfortunately, these lights are easy to overlook until they start blinking. So, why do they do that?
Generally, coffee machine lights blink or flash to bring your attention to an ongoing issue. For example, these lights will blink as the machine is brewing, so you don’t accidentally touch the scalding liquid coming out. Besides that, overheating, water clogs, and limescale buildups also trigger blinking lights to catch your attention.
Coffee machine designs can differ significantly, and so can how they blink. Still, this guide will walk you through the most common reasons it’ll flash and what you can do about them.
What Do The Buttons And Lights Mean On A Coffee Machine?
Coffee machines have several buttons and lights on them. Programmable models have many more, and each button or light has a particular purpose.
You can understand what each button and light means by referring to its label. Some are labeled clearly with words, while others are marked with symbols.
The user manual is the best resource you have to interpret the meaning of those symbols.
But no matter what, always remember: when a light or a button is flashing, your coffee machine is trying to bring your attention to an issue.
So, never ignore a flashing or blinking light on your coffee machine. Instead, troubleshoot it as soon as possible to stop minor issues from becoming major ones.
Why Are My Coffee Machine Lights Flashing/Blinking?
Here are the general reasons you’ll see lights flashing or blinking on your coffee machine:
The Machine Is Brewing Coffee
About this: The most common reason you’ll see lights blinking on your coffee machine is when it’s actively brewing a cup of coffee.
Most coffee machines will flash their lights to inform you that the brew is ongoing. The machines do that, so you’ll be wary of the boiling water about to flow from its outlet.
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After all, coffee is brewed at scalding temperatures and can injure you if accidentally touched.
How to resolve it: When your coffee machine lights blink as it’s brewing, there’s nothing for you to worry about. This is done for safety and does not require any intervention on your part.
The lights will stop blinking as soon as the brewing is completed.
The Coffee Machine Is Overheating
About this: Coffee machines must reach high temperatures to boil water and brew coffee. So, they’re designed to operate safely even at scalding temperatures.
Despite that, overheating is still a danger even for the best coffee machines on the market.
Manufacturers include various safety features in their coffee machines related to overheating.
For example, a coffee machine’s sensors could trigger its lights to flash and get your attention when it knows the machine is reaching dangerously high temperatures.
How to resolve it: As you read above, overheating is extremely dangerous, even for coffee machines. So, if the machine’s lights are flashing to indicate an overheating condition, you must shut it off immediately.
Coffee machines have additional overheating protection like thermal fuses and safety thermostats. But don’t wait for those to kick in. Instead, err on the side of caution and remove the coffee machine’s plug from the wall socket.
Doing so guarantees that the coffee machine will shut off and thoroughly cool down to safe temperatures.
There’s A Water Blockage In The Machine
About this: Besides safe heating levels, coffee machines must maintain a smooth water flow through their hoses and tubes. That water must flow unobstructed from the inlet or reservoir to the heating element and then through the coffee grounds.
Any water blockages in your coffee machine can be problematic. So, when the water flow stops, the machine will flash its corresponding lights to let you know what’s happening.
Water blockages inside a coffee machine are typically caused by impurities in the water supply and coffee grounds that find their way into the tubes.
While minor blockages aren’t so bad, they worsen with time. That can lead to the total blockage that’s causing the machine’s lights to flash.
How to resolve it: If a water blockage is causing your coffee machine lights to flash, you must restore smooth water flow.
That process involves an up-close inspection of all the machine’s hoses or tubes. Your goal is to locate the blockage so you can remove the affected hose section and clear it out.
Flushing the hose with water is usually enough to clear the blockage. However, you might need a thin brush for more severe clogs.
A Limescale Buildup Is Forming In The Machine
About this: Another significant threat to any coffee machine is the buildup of limescale. That’s caused by diluted minerals in the water building up inside the machine’s parts, especially around hot ones like the heating element.
A severe limescale buildup can stop the coffee machine from working. So, manufacturers design their coffee makers to flash lights at the first sign of a limescale buildup.
As you might imagine, the machine flashes those lights so you can clean the buildup before it becomes more severe.
Some coffee machines will also flash their lights when they’re due for a regular descaling or clean cycle. Those lights flash based on a schedule (i.e., every few months) or after a specific number of coffee brews.
How to resolve it: A limescale buildup is a severe problem for any coffee machine. So, you’ll have to descale your coffee machine immediately. Once the limescale buildup is gone, the lights will stop flashing.
You can descale your coffee machine using everyday household items like lemon juice and vinegar. Alternatively, you can purchase a purpose-specific descaling product for coffee machines. You can find those at supermarkets or your preferred hardware store.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Your coffee machine’s user manual is always the best reference to understand why its lights are flashing. Still, here are a few more questions and answers you might find helpful:
How Do I Know If My Coffee Machine Needs Descaling?
You’ll know it’s time to descale your coffee machine if 2 months have passed since you last did it. Besides that, your coffee machine will alert you with flashing lights if it senses a descaling is necessary. Lastly, a severe clog in your coffee machine indicates that you must perform descaling immediately.
How Often Does A Coffee Machine Need Descaling?
You should descale your coffee machine every 2-3 months. However, machines that are used heavily, like in offices or commercial environments, must be descaled more often.
Are Espresso Machines Fire Hazards?
Yes, espresso machines and other coffee makers can be fire hazards. That’s because coffee machines have heating elements that can overheat and electrical connectors that can erode. Those problems can lead to fires.
Do Coffee Makers Have Sensors?
Yes, some coffee maker models have sensors. These include temperature and water sensors. When the coffee machine senses a problem, like overheating or a lack of water flow, it will blink its lights to let you know what’s wrong.
Can You Run Vinegar Through A Coffee Maker?
Yes, it’s possible to run vinegar through a coffee machine to clean and descale it. Vinegar is a popular solution for many coffee machine owners because it’s an everyday product that most households already have.