I’m Tim, a coffee lover and long-time barista. I own a Nespresso machine, use it nearly every day, and have run into this issue a few times myself.
As such, I know how to diagnose and fix the flashing red light problem and made this guide to help you.
So let’s get started.
Why Nespresso Flashes Orange
Nespresso machines flash red for various reasons, the most common one is because it needs a factory reset.
But sometimes, it means the machine is low on water, the head isn’t closed, it is overheating, or it needs to be descaled depending on how often it blinks.
Use the below table to decode what your flashing or solid red light means on your Nespresso.
|Red light pattern||What it means|
|Continuous flash||Error, do factory reset|
|Blinks red twice, then stays green||No water or capsule|
|Blinks red twice, then stays orange||Error, do factor reset|
|Blinks red 3x per 2 seconds with steady red pauses||Head not closed|
|Steady red light||Unknown error, do factor reset|
|Pulsing off then on||Overheating, wait for it to cool down|
|Steady red and green||Descale|
How to Fix Your Nespresso Red Light
Here is what you should do to resolve each type of red light issue with your Nespresso machine.
Perform a Factory Reset
If your Nespresso machine shows any of the following red light sequences, you should perform a factory reset:
- Continuous red flash
- Blinks red twice, then stays orange
- Steady/constant red light
To do a factory reset, open the lid and remove the capsule if one is in there. Then, close the lid and leave it unlocked.
Next, push the button five times in three seconds or less. The light will flash slowly five times to show you the reset is finalized.
Factory resets are often necessary after power outages, thunderstorms, and “unknown” errors.
Fill Water Reservoir
If your Nespresso blinks red twice and then stays green, you need to fill its reservoir with more water.
If your Nespresso still shows this light sequence after refilling, it has some issues with the water level detector.
In that case, you may need to descale it too.
Ensure the Head is Closed
Sometimes your Nespresso may not close completely. In that case, it should blink red three times every two seconds with steady pauses.
Just reopen and close the head with some additional force to resolve this problem.
Wait for it to Cool Down
In the case of your Nespresso showing a pulsing on-then-off red light, that means it is overheating.
To resolve this, just wait 10 minutes or longer and try again.
If this persists, try moving the Nespresso machine away from heat sources (vents, stoves, ovens, etc.) and ensure it has proper ventilation.
If it still keeps happening, it may be overheating because it is clogged with scale. To descale it, see below.
If your Nespresso machine has a steady red or green light, you need to clean and descale it.
To descale it, the steps vary depending on your specific Nespresso model. So, consult your instruction manual for detailed instructions.
Otherwise, here are the general steps to descale it:
1. Gather your supplies
Prior to beginning the descaling process, ensure that you have all the supplies you need.
To descale a Nespresso machine, you will need a descaling solution made for Nespresso machines, a container to collect water, and a clean cloth or sponge.
2. Prepare the machine
To begin, remove any capsules and empty the drip tray. Then, fill the water tank with the descaling solution, ensuring it is securely in place.
Then, put a cup under the coffee outlet to collect the water.
3. Start the descaling process
Turn on the Nespresso machine and let it heat up.
To start the brewing process, simultaneously press the lungo and espresso buttons (or the single button if your machine only has one) and hold them down for three seconds.
Flashing lights will signal the start of the descaling process. When they stop, move on to rinsing it.
4. Rinse the machine
After completing the descaling process, empty the container and rinse it thoroughly. Fill the water tank with clean water and position a clean container beneath the coffee outlet.
5. Final rinse
To initiate the rinsing process, simply press the button. The machine will release hot water to eliminate any leftover descaling solution. Repeat this step until the water tank is completely empty.
6. Clean the outside
After completing the final rinse, use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe down the exterior of the machine, specifically focusing on the coffee outlet and water tank. Do not reconnect the machine to power until it is completely dry.
How to Prevent Scale in Your Nespresso
Since scale buildup is a common issue in Nespresso machines and a cause of flashing red lights, you should take some preventative measures.
Here are some effective methods to prevent scale build-up in your Nespresso machine.
1. Clean your Nespresso machine regularly
One of the most effective ways to prevent scale buildup in your Nespresso machine is to clean it regularly.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and descaling your machine, which typically involve running a descaling solution through the machine to remove any mineral deposits.
2. Use filtered water
Using filtered water in your Nespresso machine can help reduce the likelihood of scale buildup.
Tap water often contains minerals that can contribute to scale, so using filtered water can help prevent this issue.
You can even use distilled water to further prevent scale buildup.
3. Avoid using hard water
If possible, try to avoid using hard water in your Nespresso machine. Hard water contains higher levels of minerals, which can lead to scale buildup.
If you live in an area with hard water, consider using a water softener or purchasing bottled water for your Nespresso machine.
4. Regularly descale your machine
Even if you follow all the preventative measures, it’s still important to regularly descale your Nespresso machine.
Over time, scale can still accumulate, so it’s important to remove it to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your machine.
Only use descale solution and never use vinegar. Vinegar will damage your machine. Read more details below.
5. Use descaling products specifically designed for Nespresso machines
When descaling your Nespresso machine, be sure to use descaling products that are specifically designed for use with Nespresso machines.
These products are formulated to effectively remove scale buildup without causing any damage to the machine.
6. Empty and rinse the drip tray and capsule container regularly
To prevent scale buildup in the drip tray and capsule container, make sure to empty and rinse them regularly. This will help remove any residue that could contribute to scale formation.
7. Store your Nespresso machine properly
Proper storage of your Nespresso machine can also help prevent scale buildup. Make sure to store it in a clean, dry area away from any sources of moisture or humidity.
What About an Orange Light?
If you have an orange light on your Nespresso machine instead, you can use the table below to diagnose and fix your issue.
|Orange Light Pattern||What it means|
|Blinks twice per second||It needs to be cleaned and/or descaled|
|Blinks three times||It needs to be descaled|
|Blinks orange, then white for three seconds||It needs to be descaled|
|Blinks for one second then turns off||Needs a new coffee pod|
|On for 1.5 seconds then off for 0.5 seconds||Need to fill water canister|
|Rapid blinking||Do a factory reset|
See our complete guide on fixing a flashing orange light on a Nespresso machine to learn more.
The most common reason for a flashing red light on your Nespresso machine is that it has encountered an error that requires you to perform a factory reset.
To do a factor reset, push the button five times in three seconds or less with the lid closed and unlocked with no capsule loaded. Then wait for it to reset.
Several other issues can cause a red light, like low water, bad capsules, scale buildup, overheating, or the lid not being closed all the way.
If you Nespresso machine keeps having red light issues no matter what troubleshooting you perform, you might need a new one.
In that case, here are our top 21 Nespresso machines to help you find a replacement.