Instant Pot Troubleshooting

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The Instant Pot was created to make your life easier, but you keep getting notices or it just won’t work right, so what do you do? It’s time for some Instant Pot Troubleshooting! Most of the issues that arise with the Instant Pot have quick and easy fixes. This guide will help you troubleshoot your Instant Pot with ease. 


Instant Pot Troubleshooting: Problems and Solutions

Whether your Instant Pot is leaking steam, flashing that dreaded burn notice, won’t come to pressure, or just making weird noises, you can fix it with these Instant Pot Troubleshooting tips and tricks! 

Your Instant Pot Is Not Sealing or Coming to Pressure

We’ve compiled an ultimate troubleshooting guide on your Instant Pot not coming to pressure or sealing. You can find it here. If your Instant Pot is not coming to pressure, there are 5 main reasons why:

Instant Pot Troubleshooting ProblemInstant Pot Troubleshooting Solution
1. There’s too much liquidThis typically happens with soups. Make sure the liquid is below the ⅔ max line. 
2. Not enough liquidIf the recipe has little liquid, open the lid and add ½ cup more water or broth. 
3. Not enough room to build pressureYou need empty space for pressure to build up. You may have this issue with roast and potato recipes. Remove some of the food. 
4. Sealing ring is missingCheck the inside of the lid and make sure the silicone ring is in place and fitting snugly. If it doesn’t fit snugly, you may need to replace it. 
5. Steam release valve is in the wrong positionMake sure your steam release valve is in the sealing position. 

Display Is on but Timer Not Counting

If you are new to the Instant Pot, you may think this is an issue with your Instant Pot, but it’s actually normal. The cook time in a recipe is the actual pressure cook time, but you also need time for the Instant Pot to pressurize. The display will be on, but the timer will NOT start until your Instant Pot has come to pressure which can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on what you are cooking. 

Steam Is Leaking From the Steam Release Valve

Keep in mind that some steam coming from the valve is OK. With certain recipes, this can be normal for the first 2-minutes of pressure cooking. However, if there is a lot of steam or it lasts longer than 2-minutes, here are some problems:

Instant Pot Troubleshooting Problem Instant Pot Troubleshooting Solution
1. Food debrisClea the small silicone plug on the inside of the lid or the sealing ring in the lid to remove debris.
2. Silicone ring is badThe more you use your Instant Pot, the more the sealing ring wears out. Buy a replacement ring for your 3 quart, 6 quart, or 8 quart on Amazon. 

Steam Leaking From the Side of the Lid

If you see steam leaking from the side of your lid or all around your lid, it most likely means that your sealing ring is bad. Over time, the silicone loses its shape and tightness and has to be replaced. If you use your Instant Pot a few times a week, you’ll need to replace it every 6-12 months. You can buy replacement rings for your 3 quart, 6 quart, or 8 quart on Amazon. 

Instant Pot Troubleshooting: The Float Valve Isn’t Rising

A float valve is either a red or silver in colored pin on your lid. It goes up to indicate the pressure inside the pot is up. If it is not rising, it usually means there is not enough liquid inside the pot for the pressure to build up. Add another ½ cup of liquid to your inner pot. 

There’s a Ticking or Light Cracking Sound

This is normal! You will hear an occasional ticking or light cracking sound while the Instant Pot is coming to pressure. It is the sound of the power switching and the expanding pressure bord as it changes temperatures. 

Instant Pot Troubleshooting: The Dreaded Burn Notice

Typically, the “Burn” notice is an indication that too much heat is at the bottom of your inner pot. It doesn’t always mean the food is burnt, but that it is about to burn. There are several problems that can cause the burn notice:

Instant Pot Troubleshooting ProblemInstant Pot Troubleshooting Solution
1. There’s not enough liquidYou need at least 1 cup of liquid in your IP. Try adding another ½ cup if you get the burn notice. 
2. Tomatoes are on bottomBecause Instant Pot’s heating element is located at the bottom, it can cause sugars in tomato products to caramelize and “burn”. Therefore, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste on top and do not stir.
3. You didn’t deglaze the pot If you use the saute function, you have to add water and scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any debris from the bottom. If they aren’t removed, the IP makes them hotter and it thinks they are burning. 
4. The ground meat wasn’t precookedPrecook any ground meat. If you add a blob of ground meat without pre-browning it first, it will stick to the bottom and start burning.
5. Your venting valve is not in the sealing positionIf you don’t turn the steam valve to the sealing position, the steam will keep coming out from it. Eventually this will cause a complete loss of water and the Burn message. 
6. The sealing ring needs replacedLike with the venting valve, if the steam is leaking because the ring is old and needs to be replaced, it will eventually cause a complete loss of water and cause the burn notice. Check your sealing ring. 
7. You are using a newer modelNew models seem to be more sensitive to the burn notice.There isn’t much you can do except to get an older model. 
8. You used milk or creamDon’t add dairy like milk or cream while pressure cooking. It scorches at the bottom causing a burn message. If a recipe calls for cream or milk, use the Pot-in-Pot Method
9. The sauce is too thickThick sauces like spaghetti sauce don’t provide enough thin liquid. Add 1 cup of water to fix it. 

 Difficulty Opening or Closing the Lid

Sometimes the lid just doesn’t want to come on or off. This is because the Instant Pot is built with 10 safety mechanisms to prevent you from getting burned if there’s pressure still in the pressure cooker. 

  • Difficulty closing the lid– This usually occurs if you’ve used your IP and had to open the lid and then need to use it again. The hot steam still in the pot will push the float valve up making it difficult to close the lid. Simply push the pin down while closing the lid. 
  • Difficulty opening the lid– You will not be able to open the lid until all the pressure has been released from the Instant Pot. Push your steam release valve to the venting position to release all the pressure. 

Food Is Overcooked or Undercooked

Both overcooked food and undercooked food can be a result of the altitude, the pressure cooker size, age and brand of ingredients, doing a quick release too soon, or not following the recipe exactly! 
Be sure to follow the recipe exactly, use fresh ingredients, and if you are using a bigger IP, you may need to add additional water. Additionally, check the altitude where you live if you are still having issues. If you live 3,000 feet above sea level, most recipes will need to be adjusted to account for the altitude change. The rule of thumb is to increase the cook time by 5% for every 1000 feet above 2000 feet elevation. 

The Lid Smells

Many people have issues with their Instant Pot smelling. This is because the Instant Pot sealing ring is made of a porous material that absorbs odors easily. It’s hard to remove those odors with just a regular dish soap cleaning. If you notice a smell, soak the sealing ring in a solution of cold water and 1 cup white vinegar overnight, making sure the sealing ring is fully submerged. Then, rinse the ring and place it back on the lid.Are you having other issues with your Instant Pot? Ask us about it in our Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners Group!

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