How to trouble shoot and fix common issues with an expresso machine

Before you throwexpresso view out your expresso machine try these tips from Doppio Coffee:

If you have an expresso machine which is not brewing properly, there are a number of issues which may have caused the problem. It does not necessarily mean that the expresso machine needs to have extensive repairs to become functional again. In many instances the machine has experienced a common problem which can be fixed at home. Here are some of the more common issues which you may find to occur on an expresso machine and how to fix them.

Water from the reserve to the press is taking too long

Expresso machines which have seen an increase in the time that it takes to get a full cup of expresso brewed as a result of the water in the reserve taking too long to get to the press may have a problem with calcium buildup in the machine. Even if your machine uses filtered water, over time the water will cause the internal components of the machine to accumulate mineral buildup (much like your arteries will get blockage if you consume certain foods over time). To fix this issue:

  • Remove the water from the reserve compartment
  • Using a clean rag, wipe down the intake hole for the water and the output hole above the press
  • To clean the buildup within the internal components, fill the water reserve with pure vinegar
  • Run the machine until the vinegar is all used up in the reserve. Fill the water reserve with water and run it through. You should note a difference. If not repeat.

Please note that industrial machines may require a commercial cleaner to clean the internal components. Read the manual before attempting cleaning of your machine to ensure that you will not further damage the interior components.

I have cleaned my machine and my expresso still is getting grinds in the brew

Machines which have been cleaned but still have a high level of grinds in the expresso may be the result not of a damaged machine, but of a damaged press. Over time your expresso press will wear out. Depending upon the type of machine that you have, you may be able to replace the bowl of the press rather than the hole press mechanism. Yet, even if you have to replace the press, this is a far less cumbersome of a cost than a whole new machine.

If your machine was just working and now will not come on

If your expresso machine was just working and will now not come on, it could be the result of a blown fuse. This is a cheap and inexpensive fix. Simply unplug the machine and find the fuse which needs to be repaired. Most manuals will tell you exactly where to look for the fuse. However, if you do not have the manual and want to attempt to find the fuse, look for a glass bulp in a plastic tube. The tube should have information printed on the side. Write this information down as you will need to match it when replacing the component. It is advised that you use an ohmmeter to check the electrical activity and that you have an electrician conduct any work which may require cutting wires. Machines which have a simple pull out plug or a single screw fuse connector can be unplugged from the electrical source and fixed easily.

There is a hissing noise coming from the machine when it is in use

When you use your machine, if you hear a hissing sound it could be that your froth wand is not getting turned off all the way due to a gasket which has become worn. If this is the case, turn off the machine and then remove the on and off knob and replace the worn part. If, however, you are assured that the froth wand is not the problem, then the issue may be from a pinched hose. Again this is an easy fix. To fix a pinched hose:
•    Do a visual check of the machine listening for where the hissing is the loudest
•    Unplug the machine and remove the back panel to expose the hoses
•    Look for any hoses which the machine may be resting upon. If such are found then carefully reposition the hose.
•    If no hoses are being pinched by the machine, look to see if any zip ties or connectors are too tight on a hose. A connector which is too tight may cause leakage of air or can cause the air to be strained
•    Check for cracked hoses. A cracked hose is a good indicator of a leak. Replace the hose.

When in doubt have it professionally checked

Where there are a great many troubleshooting options which can be conducted, if you are unsure about how to go about fixing and servicing your expresso machine, your best option is to hire a professional to inspect and correct the problem. The last thing that you want to do is make a simple problem into a catastrophic disaster by doing work you are not equipped to handle.

Thanks for reading. Written by Arik Weiss, CEO and Founder of London based Doppio Coffee.

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