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The capsules are not pierced when they are inserted. They are pierced on the back but not in the foil. The foil is pierced when the hot water is injected through the posterior holes and the pressure causes the foil to bulge, thus getting pierced by the grid in the front of the machine. If the capsules are not getting pierced it means that the water is not being injected with enough pressure. This could be due to hard water deposits. Try first to pump the machine by turning it on and then lifting the lever and keeping it raised for a few seconds. If that doesn't work, de-scaling the machine should correct the problem.
It seems to be caused by pressure build up (not a vacuum) when the outlet of the pod holder gets blocked. There are three plastic bolts that slide into place to lock the lid as the lever is operated. Pressure forces the lid up and increases the friction on the bolts to the point where they won't operate. Solutions 1 and 2: First disconnect Senseo from the electric supply. Solution 1 is to press down on the lid to overcome the pressure and then operate the lever to unlock. Didn't work for me. Solution 2 is to get a table knife, not sharp, no serrations but with a rounded end, not pointed. Insert under lid just to right of pod holder handle, at an upwards angle of about 20 degrees to the horizontal. Then aim for the opposite 11 o'clock position on the closed lid. With a few tries the knife blade should slide between the top of the pod holder and the rubber sealing gasket releasing the pressure. Beware hot steam/water as pressure is released - wear gloves. Open lid, unblock pod holder hole with a pin, fill and heat resevoir and then flush through without a coffee pod in place.
The locks shut due to a pressure build up in the pod chamber usually caused by a blocked filter in the centre of the pod holder.
The only way to open the unit is to releive the pressure. The pressure will normally reduce over time, the duration being determined by the pressure build up, condition of pod seals and the strength of the blockage.
A quick DIY solution: (small cable tie and screwdriver required)
Un plug the unit from the mains:
Remove the water container and prise open the rear snap fit panel of the unit carefully using a screwdriver to expose the internal workings, the overflow pipe at the top of the cover must be disconnected to gain enough access to work on the unit.
.The small metal boiler in the centre of the unit is used to heat the water for the machine, if the boiler is still hot allow it to cool down sufficiently for work to commence.
The exit pipe at the top of the boiler feeds directly to the pod chamber, if you squeeze this pipe you will feel that it is under pressure. Cut the cable tie connecting the pipe to the boiler (be careful, dont cut the pipe) and remove the pipe to release the pressure, a small ammount of water will be released during the procedure. The lid should open.
Reconnect the pipe to the boiler replace the cable tie, refit the rear cover making sure to push the overflow pipe back on before you snap the cover shut.
Remove the pod holder and clear the blockage blow through the holder in the reverse direction to ensure the filter is clear.
Replace the pod holder and pour a small amount of water on to it. The water should exit through the delivery spouts if the path is clear.