Instant Pot Timer Starts Before Pressure? – 7 Quick Tips & DIY Fixes!

There’s no point in having a timer if it doesn’t show the right time! And that’s exactly what’s been happening to many instant pot users. The timer goes off before pressure, so the cooking stays raw and poorly prepared. You will know that the pressure has built up when the floating button has popped up.

There are a few reasons why the timer can malfunction or you won’t have adequate pressure building up. The following tips will help you find and fix the problem in no time.

1. Check the sealing ring for cracks and tears

Cracks and tears in the silicone lining of the pot’s sealing mechanism is the main culprit to look for. Although it’s designed to withstand high temperatures and pressure, the sealing ring will wear down over time, that’s just a fact. If it allows pressure to escape, you should replace it with a new one. Make sure it’s an authentic Instant Pot sealing ring which has passed safety tests, including UL, FDA and LFGB, like this one:

Sealing rings that haven’t passed the tests might be made of unhealthy materials that break down quickly in high temperature settings. Obviously not the best solution for an Instant Pot. You can find authentic sealing rings on Amazon. Make sure that it’s the right size.

2. Check that the sealing ring is seated properly

The ring should be seated all the way around and not pinched/pinned off center anywhere. This would obviously cause a leak just like a tear or a crack.

3. Make sure you’re using enough liquid and that it’s not too thick

If there’s not enough liquid or it’s too thick then there won’t be enough steam needed to reach pressure. When this happens the timer will start counting down at the “keep warm” temperature. Make sure that you’re using at least 1 1/2 cups of liquid that’s not too thick. That should be enough to do it.

4. Test the pressure build-up with the “water test”

Maybe your Instant Pot can’t reach pressure at all. This can happen when there is insufficient liquid in the pot so it can’t create the necessary steam. Try this water test to see if yours is working properly:

  1. bring 4 cups of water up to pressure for 10 minutes
  2. note whether the lid lock activates before the timer starts counting down

If the lid lock doesn’t activate you could be dealing with a real malfunction. However, if your Instant Pot passes the water test with flying colors but the problem persists when preparing a meal, then you’ll probably need to clean it! This brings us to tip number 5.

5. Clean the bottom of the pot

The Instant Pot determines pressure by measuring the temperature of the bottom of the pot — once it’s at 11.5psi, water will boil at ~240F instead of 212F. If there is a dry, burned layer on the bottom of the pan, it will heat up first, tricking the heat sensor and starting the timer sooner than it should.

So clean the pot before giving up. That even rhymes! This video tutorial shows how to clean it properly:

6. Pull up and push down on the lid

Two users who had this timer/pressure problem found this little trick to work well:

  • push down on the lid
  • this gives a pressure boost so that the silver pin pops up
  • you can also try gently poking the pin with a stick so that it pops up

7. Other things you can try

There are many ways to mess up the Instant Pot mechanism. Here are also some things to check for based on one user’s experience:

  • Wipe off oil or debris on the rims
  • Don’t forget to move the steam release valve to the Sealing position
  • Make sure that the lid is fully in place
  • Messing around with the “Timer” program (or the same function but under a different name, based on the version you have). If you’re not sure how to move back to default settings, restart the Instant Pot by holding the restart button for 3-4 seconds or follow the User Manual.

Final Word

The most common issue is the sealing ring being moved out of place or needing a replacement. The second most common issue has to do with a dry burned layer on the bottom heating up sooner than the rest of the pot’s content.

This usually happens with thick liquids. So definitely clean it before calling it quits! If that fails, I’m sure that one or more of the other tips on the list will help you fix this problem for good. I hope you will find this helpful!

Peter Baron

I learned how to fix many appliances while working part-time in a repair shop. Appliance Solver is the result of this experience, coupled with my interest in writing helpful content online. When I'm not fixing stuff, I'm usually either playing with my kids or on a walk with my golden retriever. Doesn't get much better than that.

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