White ceramic mug on black and silver coffee maker with espresso being brewed into the cup.

Stay Grounded: Coffee Machine Maintenance and Repair

Maintain and Care
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Does your coffee not taste like it used to? Or has your machine fully stopped working? Although it may seem like it’s the end of the line for your trusty morning helper, there may still be ways to rescue your machine. So, before you go looking for somewhere to recycle your coffee machine, try these maintenance and repair tips! This way you can save money and help the environment.

Descaling your coffee machine

If your coffee machine still works, but your coffee just doesn’t taste right, it’s time to descale your coffee machine! Depending on your model, there are a couple of ways to check if your machine should be descaled. On newer and more high-tech machines, there may be a light that turns on when it is time to descale your coffee machine. For older or less complex machines, you’ll likely notice a chalky white residue inside the carafe, or your coffee may just taste a little off.

To descale your machine, start by washing out the carafe and removing any coffee grounds and filters. Next, fill your carafe with equal parts white vinegar and water, then pour this mixture into the water container of your coffee machine. Start your machine, then when it’s halfway through the cycle, stop your machine, and let it sit for roughly one hour. After an hour, turn your machine back on and let the cycle finish.  Empty and clean the carafe, then fill your coffee machine with water and turn it on. Let the cycle finish, then run through with fresh water at least two more times. This removes any lingering vinegar from your coffee machine.

Sometimes a simple descaling can work magic, so try it first if you’re uncertain why your machine is having issues.

Repairing your coffee machine

If the problem with your coffee machine is likely a mechanical issue, read on for some common ways to troubleshoot the repair. Take note! Before you try any fixes – its important to stay aware about if the machine is plugged in or not when troubleshooting. To start out its best to turn off and unplug your machine before any disassembly. Also, be sure to check the machine’s warranty before disassembly to ensure you do not void it.

Checking the on/off switch

It is possible that the on/off switch on your coffee machine is broken. To test if this is the problem, start by removing the panel that surrounds the on/off switch.  From here you can check if the switch is the problem. Check for loose wires, water damage or visible damage to the switch itself. If the switch appears damaged, you can order a new one and replace it. A more detailed guide to testing and replacing your on/off switch can be found here (you’ll need a multimeter on hand).


Testing for thermostat issues

The thermostat controls the electricity that heats up the heating element. To check for a problem with the thermostat, start by emptying any water or coffee grounds from the machine. Next turn the machine over and remove the panel that covers the bottom of the machine. Now, you should be able to see the thermostat.

Inside of drip coffeemaker, showing the switch (top), water passages and heating element, and thermostat. Water flows (or flowed -- until this unit stopped working) from the reservoir through tube on left and up to the coffee basket through tube on right. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Location of the coffee machine thermostat. Image source: Fletcher6 – Wikimedia Commons

Using a continuity tester or multimeter, place a probe on either side of the thermostat. If the test shows no continuity, you will need to replace the thermostat.

This video gives a great demonstration of how to replace your coffee machine thermostat:

Coffee Machine Beyond Repair? Recycle it!

Although maintenance and repair can help extend the life of your coffee machine, your machine may be beyond repair. If this is the case, remember to bring it to your nearest small appliance and power tool recycling location. Did you know that ElectroRecycle has over 250 free  drop off locations in B.C.?  Search for a collection site near you on our website.

ElectroRecycle also participates in a number of pop-up collection events throughout the year. So if you don’t see a permanent collection site near you, check our Events Page for upcoming events in your community!

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