Entry needle problems …
We recently received a question from Mike, asking for some help. Mike’s question was:
“My Keurig is now making a large hole in the top of the K-Cup, resulting in a lot of coffee grinds in a cup of coffee.”
We see this type of question regularly, yet we didn’t have any material posted to help people like Mike, so we thought we better get on with some.
As Mike describes, the brewer could have several different problems, ranging from the simple to the more complex. Below we look at three possible solutions that could help to resolve this problem.
Solution 1 – Checking the K-Cup Holder
The easiest and quickest issue to check is the K-Cup holder itself (aka portion pack holder). As the photo shows, take it apart and make sure it is clean inside with no build-ups of coffee grinds. And ensure the exit needle is not damaged and is also clean. Make sure there is no cracking or splits on the outside of the holder. These problems can cause the holder to not sit in the brewer correctly. And as a result, the correct pressure is not maintained inside the K-Cup during the brewing of the coffee grounds as hot water is injected through the entry needle.
If your brewer’s K-Cup holder shows any of these signs of damage, it could be the cause of the problem. In this case, a replacement of the holder could be a simple fix. Please have a look over at our parts replacement page; the holders cost around $8.00. Or better still, give Keurig a call on their toll-free number, and they may well send you a free replacement. Scroll down to the end of the page on our link here for further details: How to Access Your Warranty.
Solution 2 – Misalignment or Damage to the Entry Needle
The misalignment of the entry needle can cause the needle to puncture the K-Cup at a slight angle and generate more of an oval shape in the top rather than a circle as it should. This, in turn, can result in a proper seal not being formed at the top of the K-Cup, as it sits in the portion pack holder, resulting in the leakage of water and coffee grounds – which will generally end up in your coffee cup.
The photo shows how the needle should look as you look up at the top of the entry needle assembly. You can see the needle sits perfectly in the middle of the unit, perpendicular to its housing. Although you can’t see it in the photo, the needle doesn’t move around. So it should create the same size hole in the same place for each K-Cup.
If your brewer’s entry needle looks like it is at a slight angle or moves when you apply pressure against it (be careful of the needle, the point is very sharp), then a replacement unit should solve the problem. Don’t be put off by this fix, as it is one of the easier ones to carry out. It doesn’t involve getting the outer casing off the unit.
The replacement part you will need to purchase is listed on our Keurig Replacement Parts page – which you can access from the link or using the menu on the right side. The item you are looking for is called a “Keurig Entry Needle Housing” and usually costs around $20 from Amazon.com. You can also check out eBay.com, as we have used them before as well, and they generally have a better selection of parts and prices than Amazon.
If you would like some guidance on how to replace this part, check our Video Maintenance section and, in particular, the video titled Removing the Casing Off A Keurig | Part 1 of 2. If you scroll through to around the 12 minutes 50-second point, we remove the top housing unit.
Solution 3 – Water Pressure Regulation
If the entry needle on your brewer is ok (and the K-Cup holder is in good condition), the issue could relate to the brewer’s water pressure regulation. In particular, this problem will arise when the solenoids do not control the water pressure, forcing too much water through into the K-Cup. This can cause coffee grounds in the cup or make a right mess around the K-Cup holder.
Unfortunately, the fix is more complex and will involve getting inside the brewer and potentially replacing parts. We would typically start to check on the condition of the solenoid units and air pump. If there is any sign of rust or leakage around these parts, you should replace them with new ones.
At this stage, we don’t have any specific videos looking at these parts for replacement (it’s a new year project). However, the two videos on removing the outer casing provide helpful guidance. You can access these videos through this link or using the menu on the right side of the screen. You can find a replacement solenoid and air pump on our parts replacement page, which you can access here.
Solution 4 – Keurig Customer Service
If taking your Keurig apart isn’t your cup of tea, the next step will be calling Keurig Customer Service. They will probably mention cleaning the entry needle, but they will go into technical or complex solutions with you. Keurig doesn’t usually bother fixing their machines – but would instead send you a new one. If you are under warranty, this should mean it will be free. But even for those outside the one-year warranty period, always push for a free replacement.
Top of K-Cup With Large Hole –
My issue with the large elongated hole in the top of the k-cup is the result of the top of the unit (holding the penetration needle) not aligned properly with the bottom (holding the k-cup) as the needle penetrates the k-cup foil. It does not always happen, but I figured out when does happen. The telltale sign of this misalignment is when the top seems to hang-up slightly (with a ‘click’) just as you are closing the top down and the needle is penetrating the foil. Essentially the needle enters slightly off center, then when closing the top down all the way, the needle is then pushed toward the center, creating a large hole. The problem is resolved by putting slight pressure inward on the lower k-cup housing as you are lowering the top down. The root cause is poor mechanical design allowing mis-alignment of the top and bottom while closing.
Hi Bill. Thank you for the comment and additional advice on this matter. There are certainly a few of these design issues in the machines, unfortunately leaving the customer trying to find work-arounds. Andrew.
We are on our replacement machine after sending back a Christmas gift..well all was ok for one week with our new one and here we go again. Large hole and a cup of coffee full of grounds. I have been searching for reasons and I appreciate your post. I will start to listen to the click and will try your pressure trick , but one more week this one goes back too..ugh! I really love this 2.0 over my old style Keurig but this mess has to stop.
We bought a new coffee pot/k-cup combo 3 months ago. It has just started punching a big hole in the top of the k-cup. Very frustrating. We will try to figure it out, but shouldn’t be having problems on such a new machine.
Darla, I agree. A brewer that age shouldn’t be having these problems. I hope you contacted Keurig and asked them to repair or replace it.