Instant Pot Not Heating or Working?

Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Anne-Marie

Is your Instant Pot not heating or working? If you’re wondering why your Instant Pot isn’t heating, this guide will help you figure out the possible reasons.

Place the browned pieces of pork back in the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot not working?

The Instant Pot can do so many things that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options available.

Most of the time, your electric pressure cooker won’t come to pressure because it’s not sealing correctly.

You also may have a defective appliance. Read my post, When Is It Safe to Open My Instant Pot?, to learn how to do a Water Test Run.

Check the float valve

How to make sure it’s sealed:

  • If the float valve does NOT pop up, you don’t have a good seal under high pressure.
  • If you see the float valve tip pop up, you have a good seal. (Looking for the float valve tip? It’s on the back part of the lid and is red on my 8-quart Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1.)

Otherwise, here are some common Instant Pot problems why it’s not working.

The float valve is stuck

That little float valve on the lid is meant to loosen up and allow air to escape during cooking. But sometimes it doesn’t work correctly. If you notice that the float valve isn’t moving freely, try unclogging it.

If the steam release valve becomes clogged, it can mean one of three things:

1. Food has built up inside the pressure valve. Remove the lid and carefully remove the food. Then clean out the valve with soap and water.

2. Something is blocking the opening of the valve. Use a toothpick to dislodge whatever might be causing the blockage.

3. The valve has been damaged. In this case, replace the cap.

An Instant Pot Pressure Coooker on a light blue dish towel.

The vent knob isn’t sealed

If your pressure vent knob is turned to “venting” rather than “sealing,” then the lid wasn’t sealed properly. The Instant Pot heated up, and the liquid evaporated through the vent hole instead of being trapped inside the Pot.

This once happened to me. I set my timer and went outside with my dog. When I went to check on things, I realized too late that I had ruined dinner.

Don’t be tempted to just turn your vent knob from Venting to Sealed unless you catch it IMMEDIATELY. This is especially true if you’re making something that only needs to be cooked for a short time.

Instead, hit cancel, and vent any pressure that did build up. Then carefully open your Instant Pot to see if the food contents can be salvaged.

Also, learn how to use your pressure release valve correctly to do a quick release and a natural pressure release. See my post, What is Natural Release vs. Quick Release on an Instant Pot?

Did you pick the right mode?

Saute mode is one of the pressure cooker’s most popular cooking modes. In this mode, you use high heat to quickly brown food. This process helps to release juices and flavors into the food.

However, sauté mode doesn’t work if you leave the lid on. Whoops!

So if the lid is on, you’ll wait forever for the oil to heat. Remove the lid to get things started.

Not enough liquid in your Instant Pot

The lack of liquid during cooking is deadly! So the trick to pressure cooking is to have enough THIN liquid in the recipe.

The Instant Pot needs THIN liquid to reach pressure during the cooking cycle and get a seal.

What is thin liquid? Examples are stock, broth, water, wine, and juice.

Spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, Rotel, salsa, etc., are not examples.

Here are the minimum liquid requirements:

  • 3-quart Instant Pot - 3/4 cup thin liquid
  • 6-quart Instant Pot - 1 cup thin liquid
  • 8-quart quart Instant Pot - 1 1/2 cups thin liquid

Not sure what model to buy? Read: What Size is Best? 6-Quart vs. 8-Quart Instant Pot

The problem when making a thick sauce

Tomato-based products such as tomato paste, ketchup, salsa, etc., don’t count towards the required amount of liquid in a recipe.

But they add flavor, so you’ll want to use them like in my delightful Best Instant Pot Meatballs Recipe.

Instead, layer the tomato-based products or thick sauces over your thin liquid. This way, you won’t run into issues with the Instant Pot coming up short on liquid or getting a burn notice.

Also, if you want to thicken your sauce with flour or cornstarch, do this in the inner Pot after pressure cooking. I do this in my Instant Pot Orange Chicken Recipe.

Use the sauté setting to heat the sauce during the thickening process, if needed.

A wooden spoon with two meatballs in tomato sauce over an open Instant Pot of meatballs in sauce.

Getting the dreaded burn message

Seeing the burn message on your Instant Pot panel? This means you could be in danger of burning your food or causing damage to your device.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. First thing, add more THIN liquid to the Pot.
  2. Make sure there are no bits of food residue sticking to the ring, preventing a good seal.
  3. Place additional ingredients on top of the foods you’re cooking to create a barrier between the bottom heating element and the dish itself.

Burnt food at the bottom of the pot

If you use your Instant Pot to brown meat with the sauté function, make sure to deglaze the inner Pot.

The way to do this is to add lots of liquid like warm water, broth, or wine. Then scrape up the burnt-on browned bits with a spatula or wooden spoon while the inner Pot is still hot.

Remove everything from the inner Pot if you want to avoid the burn notice error codes altogether after using the sauté feature. (Put the food in a large bowl and set it aside.)

Then clean and dry the stainless steel inner pot well. Afterwards return the ingredients to your Instant Pot and cook your recipe.

A sealing ring problem

Often one of the common reasons your Instant Pot isn’t sealing is because the silicone sealing ring is dirty, loose, or damaged.

First, clean your ring with warm water and dish soap to remove food debris and grease.

If the silicone ring is cracked or stretched, it should be replaced.

If the ring is dislodged from the sealing position, it’s easily put back into place.

You can firm up a loose ring by putting it in the freezer for a few minutes. But this also causes the silicone to decay quicker. So plan on buying a few spare sealing rings sooner rather than later.

Making instant pot hard boiled eggs with brown eggs using a pressure cooker egg rack.

Do you have an 8-quart Instant Pot?

I have an 8-quart Instant Pot and had no issues with it.

However, others have told me they’re more prone to overheating and getting burn notices. Maybe that’s because they run hotter, and their sauté function reaches higher temps.

If you have this problem, adjust the sauté function from high heat to medium heat. Then turn off your appliance for 5 minutes to let it cool down before cooking under pressure.

Does your Instant Pot have electrical issues?

Power supply problems are common issues with many kitchen appliances.

Make sure the power cord is fully inserted into the outlet. Maybe the outlet has tripped, or it’s faulty in some way. Try plugging it into a different one.

It’s also possible that your Instant Pot’s fuse may need replacing because a power surge burnt it out.

A repair can be tricky to do yourself. That’s because you have to take out the old fuse correctly and replace it with the correct type of fuse.

If you’ve never done this work, you should take it to an electronics shop.

Pro tip: Call ahead and get a quote. Unfortunately, you may find that a repair from a qualified electrician is as much or more than a new Instant Pot.

Failed solder connection

Sometimes, an Instant Pot isn’t heating up because of a failed solder connection on the bottom side of the circuit board.

This failed connection is on the output terminal of the main electrical relay (or switch) that sends electricity to the heating element.

You can fix this if you’re handy with small appliance repair and soldering equipment.

Here’s a video from Reese at Frugal Repair explaining how to repair a failed pressure cooker solder connection. You’ll need some fresh solder to repair the solder joint. But it’s pretty straightforward if you’re handy.

A ladle of cooked vegetables over an Instant Pot of vegetable soup.

Contact Customer Service

Are you still having problems? Contact Instant Pot customer care service at 1-800-828-7280 Monday to Friday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm ET.

Try these Instant Pot recipes

What’s your favorite kitchen appliance, Instant Pots or slow cookers?

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