Instant Pot pressure cookers are easy to use and very reliable, too, but there may be an issue that prevents your pressure cooker from working correctly every once in a while.
Luckily for every problem, there is usually a simple solution. For example, one commonly reported problem is that the Instant Pot timer starts timing the cooking time before the pot increases pressure.
Many customers complain that this renders the whole timing function essentially useless because it means that you have to then time the pressure cooker independently, or else you could end up with burnt, or more likely, raw food.
Instant Pot Timer Starts Before Pressure is Reached
Causes of the Problem
1. Sealing ring
If the Instant Pot timer starts before the pot has reached pressure, it could be an issue with the gasket or the seal. The sealing ring is a vital component and is part of the pot’s sealing mechanism.
It has been designed and engineered with a food-safety silicone to maintain the suitable hardness and strength to withstand the high temperatures and pressures achieved during pressure cooking. Always use authentic Instant Pot sealing rings as they have passed UL, FDA, and LFGB safety tests.
However, even genuine Instant Pot components do not last forever, so you need to check that the seals are in good condition and are sealing the pot. Look for any cracks or tears in the silicone.
If there is any damage to the seal, the pressure cooker will not reach pressure because a vacuum will not have been created inside the pot. Replacing the seal is an easy and inexpensive job part of the maintenance program of caring for your pressure cooker.
Seals do become worn, and when this happens, your Instant Pot will not reach pressure. It is recommended that you replace your Instant Pot sealing rings every 12-18 months. Always keep a couple of spare seals handy for when they need to be changed.
2. Lack of Pressure Build-up
- The water test
Many people recommend carrying out a water test to check whether the Instant Pot can reach pressure at all. Your pressure cooker will not come up to pressure if there is insufficient liquid within the pot to create the necessary steam, so carrying out a water test will enable you to check this out more fully.
To carry out a water test, bring 4 cups of water up to pressure for 10 minutes and note whether the lid lock activates before the timer starts counting down.
If your pressure cooker works while undertaking the water test, but the timer still doesn’t work correctly when cooking a meal, it could be that you need to clean your Instant Pot.
- Clean the pot
A pressure cooker is very sensitive to temperature and liquid, and if you burn food, or leave stains after searing in your Instant Pot, the dry burned layer on the bottom of the pan can cause the heat to rise above the boiling point of water.
The result is that your pressure cooker reads the heat sensor and registers that pressure has been reached. Once this happens, the automatic timer kicks in, which is a common reason for this issue of the malfunctioning timer.
Remember that your Instant Pot is not cooking under pressure despite what the timer indicates until the floating button has popped up. So although the Instant Pot cooks food very quickly, you have to allow for added time for the pot to reach pressure.
Depending on what you are cooking, it can take between 5 and 30 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure, so you need to be patient. Large quantities of frozen food can take as long as 45 minutes to reach adequate pressure.
3. If All Else Fails
If the problem persists and you have checked the seals, carried out the water test, and cleaned your Instant Pot, you should contact their customer service department for advice. The company should advise you on the next step to take.
Although the Instant Pot company is usually reluctant to offer money-back or replacements, you will probably find their service department a good source of information or repairs.