Have you been having issues with your pressure cooker and you don’t know what to do about it? Then it is a good thing you are reading this post because we will be discussing some of the common ways to troubleshoot a pressure cooker and solutions. For the benefit of everyone, we will focus on generalized methods that can apply to all types of pressure cookers.
Parts of the pressure cooker
The pressure cooker has many parts such as the lid, gaskets, pressure release valves, the handle, inner racks, and the temperature sensors/control panel (for the electric pressure cookers).
Pressure Cooker Problems Troubleshooting
Here are some tips for troubleshooting common issues you may experience while using your pressure cooker.
1. Leaks from the lid when the pressure cooker is closed.
The gasket is fitted with seals that prevent leaks. After every use, it is important to clean the gasket and lid, because dirt can cause your pressure cooker gasket to malfunction and a leak will happen. This is probably why you are experiencing leaks while using your cooker. Leaks can be dangerous, that is hot steam escaping, and it can burn your body. If you ever notice any traces of leaks, quickly turn off your heat source and release the pressure valve. When this is done, remove the food and inspect your gasket.
Another reason you can experience leaks from around the lid is when you have not fixed the gasket properly. They usually have two sides that fit into the gasket area of the cooker. So you can check the lapping of your gasket. Also, old pressure cookers are prone to leaks due to wear and cracking over time. In this case, the gasket will need to be replaced with a brand new one.
On the other hand, if you notice that the gasket is not the cause of the leaks you experienced, further checks should be done. You will need to check the rims under your pressure cooker and the lid. Damaged rims can cause leaks, and due to long use, wear and tear, the lid of your pressure cooker may have become compromised. Also, low-quality products do not last long; they are prone to issues such as damaged lids after using the product for only a few months.
From our observations, we have noticed that pressure cookers made from aluminium are prone to have issues such as damaged rims and lids that cause leaks over time. These issues may not be apparent while you use the pressure cooker, but can suddenly happen. The thing is when one part of the pressure cooker is compromised; the damage quickly affects other parts of the cooker. For example, leaks caused by damaged lids can quickly destroy the seals and gasket.
It is also a good idea to carefully clean your pressure cooker. The best choice is the use of mild soap to clean the seals and other parts of the cooker. Cleaning the pressure cooker carefully also reduces the chances of scratches and cuts that can compromise its functions.
It is also important to carry out regular maintenance on your pressure cooker. These steps involve cleaning and tuning to ensure your pressure cooker is working perfectly at all times. Lack of regular maintenance is another cause of leaks that can reduce the efficiency of your pressure cooker. You can maintain the cooker by yourself, or take it to an expert. The need for experience during maintenance is to avoid dents and scratches while cleaning the parts of your pressure cooker. It should be noted that when defects are observed, you should have an expert look at the cooker, in most cases, damage to structural parts render the pressure cooker useless, and it will have to be replaced.
2. Leaks from the handle of your pressure cooker
The design of pressure cookers features long handles which are made from sturdy materials. These handles are positioned away from the direction of steam pressure so you can pick up the cooker even when it is hot; the handles remain at a tolerable temperature. This means signs of steam pressure escaping from the handle area of your pressure cooker are an indication of a fault that needs to be checked.
The common cause of the leak is a faulty gasket or damaged seal. If you know about these parts, the damage can be easily detected. However, you can have it checked by an expert repairer.
3. Steam trapped in the vent pipe
The vent pipe in pressure cookers that have manual pressure regulators allows steam and pressure to escape. This can happen while you cook and after you open up the pressure release mechanism. If steam is not escaping through the vent pipe, it has been blocked. You can perform a quick check. When the cooker is not in use, look through the vent pipe to see if there is anything lodged there. You may find food particles or other stuff blocking the vent pipe. If you can remove the obstacle, it will function normally.
4. Protecting the lid of your pressure cooker from damage
The lid is one of the most important parts of the pressure cooker. It keeps the entire system sealed to allow pressure build up within and prevent the escape of steam pressure. If the lid of your pressure cooker is damaged, you may need to buy a new cooker as a replacement. You can make the lid of your pressure cooker last longer by following these tips- wash your lid using mild soap and lots of water to remove all traces of food particles or dirt. To store your lid after use, place it in an inverted position over the upper part of your cooker. This position protects the pressure valve. Alternatively, if you will not be using the pressure cooker for a while simply put some baking soda in the cooker and close the lid. The baking soda will prevent moisture from damaging your pressure cooker.
5. What you can do if the lid gets stuck
After releasing the pressure from inside your cooker, you may find out that the lid remains stuck. Try as much as you can it may not budge. What has happened is that there is still some pressure inside the pressure cooker keeping the lid closed. What you need to do is place your cooker under cold running water from the tap to lower the pressure. This is called the cold water release method, but it cannot be used for electric pressure cookers because water can damage the sensors. If you have an electric pressure cooker you may need to wait it out. Eventually, the pressure will be reduced, and you can open the lid.
Another tip to avoid experiencing stuck lid every time you use the pressure cooker is by applying some Vaseline over the rim of the cooker. Vaseline creates a filmy layer that prevents the lid from getting stuck every time. Vaseline also has a high tolerance for heat, so it does not melt and evaporate when you use the pressure cooker.
6. Low pressure in the cooker
This is a common problem. You may be experiencing very low pressure in your cooker for many reasons. I have briefly described some of the points below;
Insufficient liquids in the pressure cooker can lead to the generation of very low pressure. To avoid this experience, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Another reason you must ensure that the right quantity of water has been put into your pressure cooker is to prevent overheating. This happens when the water level is too low, and you know the temperature in pressure cookers can rise as high as 250 0C. However, if you choose to use your pressure cooker in an oven, you must remove the lid and gasket to prevent the build-up of pressure in the pressure cooker.
Leaks can also hinder the pressure cookers functionality from generating enough pressure for cooking. Leaks allow the pressure escape from inside the cooker before it can cook the food you placed inside. It is important that you close the lid properly before placing your pressure cooker on a source of the electric cooker. Also, what is your source of heat? If you set the heat source too low, the heat energy produced may not be sufficient enough for the pressure cooker to work as planned.
7. Dirty pressure valves
It is not normal to find dirt in the pressure valve. This part of your pressure cooker is mostly free from obstruction because of the gasket and the hot steam pressure that passes through. If you notice that the pressure valves have been blocked, then your gasket has been compromised. First, you need to clean the pressure valve to dislodge the dirt causing a blockage.
Next, inspect your gasket. It is possible it malfunctioned because the gasket is dirty. If this is the case, you can clean your gasket. To avoid these issues, ensure you clean your gasket and pressure valve after every use.
8. Gasket damaged by heat
Gaskets are tough enough to withstand the pressure. If you notice it has been damaged by heat, the gasket was probably old and worn out. Try to remove it and install a new gasket.
Removing a damaged gasket may be difficult because it is stuck to your pressure cooker. This is what you can do, use liquids such as vinegar, soapy water or warm water to soften the gasket and pull it off your pressure cooker. You must never use sharp tools such as knives, or screwdrivers to pry the melted gasket free, to avoid more problems.
9. Discoloration of aluminium pressure cookers on exposure to alkali
You may be wondering why your aluminium pressure cooker is suddenly looking different. If there are stains like splotches on the surface, your aluminium pressure cooker is exposed to alkali-rich products such as Sal soda used for washing, or ammonia. You can get rid of these stains by using two tablespoons of tartar, lemon juice, or vinegar. The process is easy, add some tartar to a small quantity of water in a pot and boil. After boiling, allow the mixture to cool down for about ten minutes, and then use the mixture to wash your pressure cooker. You will notice the stains disappearing. Here’s a tip to prevent stains from discoloring your pressure cooker. Always add some lemon juice or vinegar to the water used to wash your pressure cooker after use.
10. Tough stains on pressure cooker surface
If you are experiencing some difficulty in removing tough stains from the surface of your pressure cooker, these tips will be helpful. If you know the cause of the stains, you can find a suitable solvent to remove the stain. This information can be found online, please check and ensure that the solvent can be used aluminium pressure cookers if this is the product you have. For those of you who have pressure cookers made from stainless steel, there are special cleaners you can use to get rid of tough stains. Overall, some general solvents that work perfectly for stain removal are lemon juice or vinegar.
11. Stains from mineral deposits in your pressure cooker
These stains are usually the result of reactions between the mineral deposits and residue from fats and oil or the type of soap used to wash the pressure cooker after use. You can get rid of these stains by using acidic liquids such as lemon juice or vinegar. These acidic liquids are not corrosive, so there is no scare of ruining your pressure cooker.
12. Discoloration caused by heat
This happens often, and you can handle the problem easily. Discoloration may be more apparent on pressure cookers made from aluminium; this situation also affects products made from stainless steel. While discoloration does not affect the functionality of your pressure cooker, it can make the product look ugly and unfit for your kitchen. Discoloration can be avoided by searching for products that have a guarantee against discoloration due to heat. This information can be found on your warranty card for the pressure cooker. It all depends on the material your pressure cooker has been made from; some materials are prone to discoloration due to heat. It takes an extra effort for the manufacturer to research and improve the alloy used in making its products to avoid discoloration when the pressure cooker is exposed to heat.