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If you have noticed your Instant Pot not sealing, it’s more than likely an easy fix. Your foods won’t cook properly without pressure, so this is an important issue to fix. 

Instant Pot Pressure Cookers – well, all electric pressure cookers – rely on liquid and a tight seal to pressurize. But there are other factors, as well – the temperature of your food, how full your pot is, and if your sealing valve is closed. 

There are a few other reasons why your pot might take longer than usual to come to pressure: the valve, sealing rings, liquid, an overfilled pot, or a damaged pot. 

collage image of instant pot and sealing ring in lid

I’ve been creating healthy Instant Pot recipes for several years now, and have even written an Instant Pot cookbook. I have a lot of experience troubleshooting and cooking with this amazing appliance. I’ve got you covered ;)

1. Start with the easiest fixes first

Before we get into any fixes that involve replacing parts or pieces, there are a few common Instant Pot issues you should always check:

  1. Ensure that you lock the lid and hear the closing chime.
  2. Is the pressure/steam release valve in the sealing position? If the steam release handle or pressure valve (also called a quick release valve) is open or in the venting position, your pot won’t come to pressure because steam is leaking out.
  3. Did you remember to add a cup of liquid to the bottom of the inner pot? If you are cooking pot in pot, with a smaller dish inside your inner pot, make sure the liquid went into the very bottom of the inner pot. 
  4. Check the float valve on the top of the lid and inside of the lid. Is it stuck? Is there food debris or moisture keeping it from properly engaging? Did you clean your Instant Pot lately and forget to put something back?
  5. Did you add frozen food to the pot? If you add frozen food or cold water, your pot might take an unusually long time to come to pressure. If you know you’ll be adding frozen food to the pot, I recommend adding the water first and pressing saute to warm the water up. Warm water helps your pot come to pressure faster, reducing your cooking time.
  6. Depending on your Instant Pot model, some come with cords that unplug from the pot – I recommend always checking both sides of your power cord when you plug the pot in. 
labeled image of instant pot parts

2. Old, Bad, or Dirty Silicone Sealing Rings

The next easiest thing to do when dealing when your Instant Pot (also called InstaPot or pressure cooker) won’t seal and come to pressure is to check the silicone ring. It’s a common reason that the pot doesn’t get a proper seal, and there could be several possible reasons why. 

  1. Do a quick pressure release of the pot, assuming any has built up, and then remove the lid. Wait until the lid is cool and wiggle the sealing ring to ensure it’s firmly placed in the lid. 
  2. Look for discoloration, stretching, food debris in the ring, or small tears or cracks. If you notice any of these things, it might be the reason that your steam leaks out of the pot and doesn’t seal. 
  3. Wash and dry the sealing ring in warm soapy water, and put it back into the lid. 
  4. Instant Pot sealing rings should be replaced every 6-18 months depending on your level of usage and if they show signs of wear.

I like to keep a set of Instant Pot authentic sealing rings on hand in case one stops working. I’ve never been sad to have a new ring in my pantry. I also use different rings for different recipes – I talk a lot about why I use separate sealing rings for different dishes in my post about sealing ring odors

inside the lid of an instant pot

3. Water and Liquid

Do you have enough liquid in the Instant Pot? Did you possibly add too much liquid? Water or other thin cooking liquid is required for the Instant Pot (and any electric pressure cooker) to build and maintain pressure for cooking, but if you have added a lot of liquid it can take longer to come to pressure or not come to pressure at all.

Each pot requires a certain amount of liquid (typically water, plant based milk, or broth) in order to come to pressure fully and properly. Check out the list below to learn more about your size of Instant Pot. 

If you find that your Instant Pot won’t come to pressure, you may need to add more liquid. Even if a smaller amount of water has worked for you in the past, adding more water is sometimes necessary (we all have bad days, even the Instant Pot). 

Though every pot is slightly different, and your elevation also comes into play when trying to determine how much water to add to your pot, here is a general guide of how much water to add to your pot: 

  • 8 Quart Pots: 1 1/2 – 2 Cups
  • 6 Quart Pots: 1 Cup
  • 3 Quart Pots: 3/4 – 1 Cup
liquid in the instant pot

4. Overfilling The Inner Pot

Did you know you can overfill the stainless steel Instant Pot? Adding too much food to the pot will make it difficult for the pot to come to pressure because there’s not enough room for the steam to build up and create pressure. 

There are lines on your Instant Pot inner pot that show how much food you should add to it. 

If you filled your pot above the fill lines (or even just close to the fill lines), remove some food and restart the cooking process. 

Overfilling your Instant Pot is never a good idea. There are a few reasons why: 

  • It will take a long time to come to pressure, if it comes to pressure at all.
  • It will not safely cook the recipe.
  • The food might not cook properly because the cook times will be off (due to the time it takes to come to pressure).
  • When you release the hot steam, food could come out of the steam release valve, making a mess of your kitchen and the lid.  
instant pot inner liner and measurements

5. Damaged Pot Or Lid

If you have tried everything listed above and can’t seem to get your pot to come to pressure, there are a few things to consider: 

  • Have you dropped the pot or the lid? 
  • Did moisture get inside the outer pot? 
  • Did anyone borrow the pot and potentially damage part of the Instant Pot? 

If your pot has been dropped or damaged or if you still can’t get it to come to pressure the best thing to do is a simple Instant Pot water test. Then I’d recommend calling Instant Pot

Instant Pot has amazing customer service. They’ll help you get a replacement, a repair, or help you troubleshoot more difficult electronic issues. 

More Instant Pot help:

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  1. Karen chavez says:

    I started the pot thinking I has 20 min. But it stoppped cuz I had put 20 sec. now I can’t restart it when I close lid to star again it keeps saying lid . We’ve checked everything and this is a brand new pot, the duo crisp and air fryer. So now what do I do . I’ve even unplugged it. Nothing works help pls.

  2. Excellent advice thank you!

  3. Those Were the Most Useless Answers, I’ve Ever read. Did You Seal It…Is the Valve Closed…Is There Enough water….Is there too much Water…is the Seal, Dirty and Old…That One Must Be Referencing Your Hubby

    I don’t Know Why I Came Here…i Was Hoping You Talk More About The Seals, But the Only Mention of the Seals, Was Your Husband Reference.

    1. The article is titled 5 Reasons Why Your Instant Pot is Not Sealing, not 5 Reasons Your Seal Isn’t Working. I’m sorry you felt the need to take time out of your day to leave such a negative comment on a website, and reference my husband. I hope your day is better today than it was yesterday.

      1. Peace to you, Becca. You handled that beautifully.

  4. I usually resent answers like ‘make sure it’s plugged in’, however, in this case, I must confess that I never thought to make sure the valve was totally closed!

    1. I understand that, Lin. As someone who has taken the time to help readers through issues like this and then found out (on several occasions) that they forgot to plug their pot in, please know that if you’re reading a suggestion there is most likely a reason that it’s being mentioned :)

      I am one that forgets to close my vent 🤦🏻‍♀️

  5. Very good information thank you so much you saved dinner now my instant pot seals.

  6. Melody gutheridge says:

    My pot said cl6 and don’t know what to do.

    1. I think that’s a faulty pressure sensor? I’d call Instant Pot!

  7. Thanks for the great article and info. However, I still can’t seem to fix my issue. I just got a brand new Instant Pot Duo (after using another brand for a number of years) and cannot get it to seal no matter what. The float valve pops up, but it never switches from “On” to the timer . . . it just goes until I eventually get a “Burn” error. I tried it with just water (per the Manual recommendations) and had the same experience (but I stopped it before getting the error) – t’s like it’s perpetually venting (even though I do have it set to Seal). Help! Any ideas?

  8. My issue is the steam release valve wont seal how do you know its in the right position? other then that it works fine

    1. It’s a very loose valve – on the lid, it says Sealing and Venting. Just slide it to Sealing when you’re ready to cook. It won’t “catch” into place but once the pot is under pressure it isn’t able to move.

  9. I probably need a new seal —- even though I slide it all the way to seal, once it heats up fully it does not stay sealed, and starts losing steam. If I put a weight
    on top to hold it down that seems to work temporarily. Is it safe to do that for now till I get the new seal? I have something I need to finish cooking right away.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My pot will not seal if I have used it to sauté and the pot is hot. I have to
    let it completely cool. Wtf?

    1. I’m not sure why that would be! Have you tried calling Instant Pot’s customer service?

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