Troubleshooting Guide: Quick Fixes For Common Instant Pot Problems

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Troubleshooting tips for Instant Pot – Quick fixes for when your Instant Pot is not sealing, leaking steam and just won’t turn on. Learn how to tackle the error codes and burn messages and troubleshoot the most commonly occurring Instant Pot issues quickly so that you can get back to making your meal.

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Troubleshooting Instant Pot Issues

It is common for kitchen appliances to have manufacturing defects and that goes for Instant Pot too. While there could be genuine issues with the appliance itself often times it could be expected behavior and user error too. Let’s walk through the scenarios, troubleshoot them and find out when it is time to throw in the towel and call customer support.

If you are new to using the Instant Pot, I would recommend reading up these two articles to familiarize yourself with the device.

Instant Pot Expected Behavior – No action needed

If you have been using a stovetop pressure cooker like Hawkins or Prestige, there is a bit of a learning curve since electric pressure cookers behave differently. It may seem like that the Instant Pot is not working properly when it is. Let’s look at those scenarios – 

The display shows ‘On’ and nothing happens 

IP Display Showing ON

Once you select any pressure cooking program such as Bean/Chili, Pressure Cook, Rice, etc, and set the time, the Instant Pot screen will display “On”. It may seem like it stays like this forever but what’s happening behind the scenes is that the cooker is coming to pressure. Once that stage is reached, the cooking cycle will begin, the floating valve will pop out and the countdown will start.

The amount of time that Instant Pot takes to build pressure depends on the amount of liquid in the inner pot and the food that is being cooked. Also, it may take over 30 minutes to come to pressure while cooking frozen food or when cooking with lots of liquid.

There is no vent or whistle that goes off

While Instant Pot has a steam valve or vent, it doesn’t go off like a stovetop pressure cooker vent (also called whistle). No more counting whistles or the number of times the vent goes off. Just set the timer and walk away 🙂

The steam handle/valve appears loose

That’s expected behavior and it is designed so that it can be moved from sealing to venting and vice versa. Make sure it is properly installed though. 

Steam is escaping from the valve 

It is normal for some steam to escape around the valve during the pressure building phase. 

The display shows LO: followed by a number

Instant Pot display showing LO:01

This is not an error. It means that the Instant Pot is in the ‘Keep Warm’ mode. The number followed by LO indicates for how long it has been in that mode. LO:01 means that it has been in that mode for 1 minute. 

The display shows LID 

If you covered the Instant Pot with its lid when in ‘Saute’ mode, Instant Pot flashes ‘LID’ across the display. If you have to cover and cook, use a glass lid instead. If you seal it with the Instant Pot lid, pressure builds up inside the cooker and can be hazardous.

Cracking sound when Instant Pot starts cooking 

Reason: The bottom of the steel insert or inner pot was wet. Make sure you wipe it down completely from the outside every time you use it. Sometimes you also hear a ticking sound when temperature changes inside the Instant Pot – that’s expected behavior as well.

The pot has a rainbow-like stain

I have noticed the rainbow-like stain often when I machine wash the Instant Pot. It is common in stainless steel utensils. It is harmless but if it bothers you, wash it with warm soapy water and a nylon pad. For detailed cleaning instructions, read this post – How to clean your Instant Pot.

Troubleshooting Instant Pot Error Codes

C5 

If LEDs are flashing with the code C5 appearing on the display and the warning beep is on, it means that your pot is too hot. It could be because of the following reasons – 

  • There is no water in the Instant Pot [ Solution – A 6-quart Instant Pot needs at least 1 cup of liquid and an 8-quart needs about 1.5 cups, so add that accordingly.]
  • The inner pot is not in the cooker base or has not been inserted properly. [ Solution – Wait for the heating element to cool, and reinsert or reposition inner pot in cooker base]

C1, C2, C6, C6H, C6L

For any of these errors – C1, C2, C6, C6H, C6L,  contact customer care because these are either faulty temperature or pressure sensor issues.

NoPr

If your display reads NoPr,  there could be three possible reasons –

  1. Not enough liquid in the instant pot. [ Solution – A 6-quart Instant Pot needs at least 1 cup of liquid and an 8-quart needs about 1.5 cups to come to pressure]
  2. The steam release handle is in the wrong position. [ Solution – Set the valve to sealing]
  3. The heating element has failed. [ Solution – Contact customer care]

BURN or OvHt (short for overheat)

Burn or Ovht errors occur when sensors detect food burning inside the pot due to the lack of liquid in the Instant Pot.

Solution

  1. Release the pressure by moving the vent from sealing to venting. Once the float valve drops, open the lid. 
  2. To salvage your food, remove the unburnt portion and transfer it to another pot/bowl.
  3. Scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot and discard the burned bits.
  4. Rinse and wash the Instant Pot and start over again.
  5. Reduce the cooking time to account for the time the food was already cooked before you opened the lid.
  6. Add enough liquid this time and follow the steps below. 

Preventive measures

  1. Follow the liquid guidelines for Instant Pot – A 6-quart Instant Pot needs at least 1 cup of liquid and an 8-quart needs about 1.5 cups.
  2. Place the starches and tomato-based sauce on the top and always have enough liquid in the bottom. 
  3. Also, if you have used the Saute function prior to pressure cooking, make sure to deglaze the pot, i.e scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot to get rid of any food particles that are stuck to the bottom. 

Instant Pot Lid Issues

Cannot close the lid

  • Make sure the sealing ring is properly installed. 
  • Sometimes when you use the Instant Pot concurrently, the lid won’t close. Run the Instant Pot lid under cold water and that should do the trick. 

Cannot open the lid

  1. Make sure the pressure is completely released by moving the steam valve to the venting position. Wait for the float valve to drop before trying to open the lid. 
  2. If the float valve is stuck at the popped-up position even after moving the steam valve to the venting position then use a narrow end of a spoon or a spatula and gently press the float valve. This usually happens because of food residue. Make sure to clean the steam valve once you open the lid. 

Instant Pot Steam Leaking Issues

Steam leaking from the steam valve

It is normal for some steam to escape around the venting knob/steam valve during the pressure building phase but if there is a lot of steam releasing continuously, it could be the following reasons – 

The steam valve is not in the sealing position.
Easy fix – Move the steam valve to the sealing position.

The steam valve is not seated properly.
Solution – Turn off the pressure cooker. Remove and install the steam valve. 

There isn’t enough liquid in the inner pot
Remove the lid and add water as per the guidelines -1 cup for a 6-quart Instant Pot and about 2 cups for 8-quart.

If none of these solutions work, contact Instant Pot Customer care.

Steam leaking from the sides

When steam leaks from the sides, it is most likely due to sealing ring issues or if the lid is not closed properly. Once you have made sure the lid is properly closed and eliminated that reason, do the following checks-  

  1. Check if the sealing ring is present. 
  2. Make sure the sealing ring is clean and free of food residue.
  3. Check if the sealing ring is properly installed and sits tightly within the rim. If the sealing ring is loose, put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes or use a spare sealing ring. 
  4. Replace the sealing ring if it is damaged or warped.

Instant Pot not sealing or coming to pressure

We discussed earlier how Instant Pot takes a long time to build pressure depending on the amount of food/liquid and that is normal behavior. But if the countdown has begun and the float valve is still down, that means there is an issue with sealing, or there is no liquid causing food to burn or the float valve is dirty. 

Sealing issues

To troubleshoot sealing issues, do the following – 

  1. Check if the sealing ring is present. 
  2. Make sure the sealing ring is clean and free of food residue.
  3. Check if the sealing ring is properly installed and sits tightly within the rim. If the sealing ring is loose, put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes or use a spare sealing ring. 
  4. Replace the sealing ring if it is damaged or warped.

Burnt food issues

If the pressure cooker is not sealing because of burnt food, do the following –

  1. Release the pressure by moving the vent from sealing to venting. Once the float valve drops, open the lid. 
  2. To salvage your food, remove the unburnt portion and transfer it to another pot/bowl.
  3. Scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot and discard the burned bits.
  4. Rinse and wash the Instant Pot and start over again.
  5. Reduce the cooking time to account for the time the food was already cooked before you opened the lid.
  6. Add enough liquid this time and follow the steps below. 

Preventive measures 

  1. Follow the liquid guidelines for Instant Pot – A 6-quart Instant Pot needs at least 1 cup of liquid and an 8-quart needs about 1.5 cups.
  2. Place the starches and tomato-based sauce on the top and always have enough liquid in the bottom. 
  3. Also, if you have used the Saute function prior to pressure cooking, make sure to deglaze the pot, i.e scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot to get rid of any food particles that are stuck to the bottom. 

Dirty float valve

To clean the float valve, remove the silicone ring from under the lid. Run it through the water to remove any food debris. Reattach it and make sure it can move up and down.

Cleaning Instant Pot Valve

Instant Pot is not turning on

If your instant pot does not turn on in spite of correctly connecting the power cord, try switching the outlet. If that doesn’t work either, the possible reason for failure is that the cookers electric fuse has blown. In that case, contact Instant Pot Customer care.

Found this post helpful? Please leave me a comment below to let me know. 

Here are some more articles related to Instant Pot that will help you master pressure cooking – 

  1. Instant Pot Quick Start Guide – This post will guide you through the Instant Pot setup and teach you how to make the most of your Instant Pot. 
  2. Things you should know before using your Instant Pot  – This post is filled with tips that’ll help you make the most of your Instant Pot.
  3. How to do a water test in the Instant Pot– A video tutorial that’ll guide you through the initial test run of your Instant Pot.
  4. Instant Pot cooking times – No more guessing! Get these helpful Instant Pot cheat sheets for cooking times for vegetables, pulses, rice, and grains, along with poultry and seafood. 
  5. Instant Pot Accessories – The 10 most recommended accessories for Instant Pot. A word of advice – don’t rush to get them all; buy as needed. 
  6. Instant Pot Cookbooks – Here’s a collection of my most recommended cookbooks for all kinds of diet and cooks of all levels. 

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4 Comments

  1. I bought a brand new older style instant pot still in box, and the only button not working is the Pressure button, all the others work, and it’s the pressure item is what I’d be using the most. I’ve checked everything, to no avail.

    1. Dottie – you’ll have to reach out to customer support. I think the unit has a problem.

    1. Jyotsna – what exactly is happening? Is the button not working? Or is steam releasing from the sides?

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