I had the same problem, and I figured it out. Read on, to see if this applies to you. This percolator was received as a present years ago, and I'm not sure it ever worked right. First, some info and background. The above comments about the heating element being clean to bare metal, while valid, did not work for me. I also read other posts suggesting the thermostat might be defective, which also did not seem to apply to my situation because the water is always hot enough at the end of the cycle, not boiling, but steaming hot enough for just about anyone. I deduced the problem to be with the actual perking process, not heat or heating element. A percolator should perk before the water is at drinking (HOT) temperature, and the perking action cools the water and prolongs the actual perking process. The problem I found was with the washer at the bottom of the tube, which is supposed to act like a 1-way valve. The washer, from the factory, was apparently too loose with almost a 1/4-inch or play, allowing hot water that would otherwise perk back into the water chamber, effectively making my percolator into a kettle. I used a stainless steel washer and an e-clip to tighten the washer against the holes on the lower umbrella-shaped flange so that there is just enough room to slide a feeler gauge or perhaps a couple of sheets of paper. Now the percolator works great, fantastic actually. Watching the coffee perk at the top in anticipation of a hot cup is entertaining, and with the stainless steel pot I have no worries about phytoestrogens leaching from plastics common in drip coffeemakers. See photo of my hack if it uploaded correctly. Its high res, so you may be able to download and zoom in. Enjoy!