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Coffee Percolator Not Working

Updated: Aug 24, 2022 7:40 PM
Coffee Percolator Not Working

You may need to descale or unclog your percolator if your coffee percolator is not working. The most common issues with these kitchen appliances are mineral and limescale build-up and a clogged percolator tube resulting in weak coffee. However, you may also want to check if your best coffee maker sits in its basket correctly.


  • If your percolator turns on but doesn’t brew, you may have an issue with a clog in your percolator tube or mineral build-up.
  • Call a repair center if your percolator won’t turn on when it’s plugged in.
  • To descale your coffee percolator and unclog your percolator tube, you need to run a brew cycle after putting in vinegar and water.

If your percolator base doesn’t turn on, check to make sure it’s plugged in. If it is, you may have an issue with the plug or switch. If you’re new to brewing a cup of coffee, you may want to check out these coffee machine tips, especially starting with cold water instead of hot water.

Fixing a Coffee Percolator

When you have issues with your percolator, you should start by checking for clogs in your percolator’s vertical tube. Also, be sure to learn how to clean your percolator coffee maker. Additionally, you may need to descale your percolator and tube using vinegar as an acid mixed with the base water. Descaling fixes many issues with various base coffee appliances, including drip coffee makers, espresso machines, and a single cup of coffee makers. To find out how to fix an espresso machine, check out what to do if your espresso machine pump is not working.

Insider Tip

You can use water and vinegar to clean and descale your percolator.

If you continue to have issues, you may need to reach out to a coffee machine repair center to ensure you’re getting the right advice, including issues with the valve element or seal for your hot coffee brewing. These issues may include problems with the thermostat, such as low water temperature, so check out our guide on how to fix your coffee maker. In addition, you will need to use a chemical descaler or vinegar during your process. You may use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, though many experts recommend using white vinegar. You could also use citric acid or baking soda. These methods will work whether you are using an electric percolator or one of the highly-rated stovetop percolators.


  1. Unplug the percolator. You should always start by unplugging your appliances if you plan on washing, descaling, or fixing them. If you do not, you risk hurting yourself. After unplugging it and making sure the water chamber is empty, wait about 10-15 minutes as the coffee maker cools.
  2. Fill the electric percolator about halfway with water. Since you will be running your percolator for a cycle, the water can be any temperature from cold water to hot water. First, however, make sure you remove the coffee grounds and filter that are inside the basket.
  3. Fill the rest of the way with white vinegar. To be precise, you should check your owner’s manual to determine how large your percolator is. Then, measure out the water and vinegar. If you don’t have the user’s manual, you probably can tell from the box it came in or by filling it and measuring the contents.
  4. Replace the percolator basket. Make sure that the end of the stem sits within its slot before replacing the lid. You also need to plug the percolator back into the power source.
  5. Go through a brewing process without adding coffee beans. This step ensures that the vinegar and water solution runs through the different parts of the machine. Wait an additional 15 minutes after the cycle has been completed before doing anything else.
  6. Unplug the percolator again. You will also need to let it cool completely before starting, which should take about 15 minutes. If it takes longer, don’t worry about it too much.
  7. Dump out the vinegar and rinse the inside of the metal coffee container. You should also wash any other loose parts using your dish soap at this point. The vinegar and water cleaning mixture should have loosened any mineral build-up, so you want to ensure you get rid of all of it to prevent a vinegary taste.


Your coffee percolator may smell like vinegar, so be sure to rinse it out several times.


Why are there coffee grounds in my coffee?

You may be using grounds that are too fine. Try using a coarser grind. Additionally, you may have a few grinds in your cup if the water level rises above the top of your filter.

Why is coffee spilling out of the pot as it brews?

You may have used too much coffee grounds or too much water. If you’re using a drip coffee machine, you most likely need to use fewer ground coffee beans.

Why does my coffee taste odd?

Your coffee may taste unusual if your water contains pollutants or if there is build-up within your coffee maker. You may want to try descaling your coffee maker and filtering your water.

STAT: Always make sure to refer to your owner’s manual before cleaning your percolator or basket. (source)

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