Machine Is Leaking
Between Portafilter & Grouphead
If the machine is leaking from between the grouphead and the portafilter then the grouphead gasket is either pushed out of place and needs to be reinserted properly, or the gasket is worn out. Typically, grouphead gaskets will wear out in approximately 6 months to a year depending on how heavily the machine is used. Premature wear to this gasket can be caused by using excessive force when attaching the portafilter. It is important to distinguish where the leaking is occurring. If the leaking is originating from farther up on the grouphead assembly and then draining down to where the portafilter is attached, then refer to the “From the Grouphead” section of this article which discusses leaking from the grouphead.
If the leaking is coming from between the portafilter and grouphead where you twist the handle on, then the gasket will need to be replaced. Instructions for replacing the gasket can be found in the document attached at the end of this article titled "Changing The Group Gasket." You can try using the instructions to clean and reseat the current gasket. If that does not resolve the leak then the gasket will need to be replaced.
The gasket can get stuck in the grouphead from wear or excessive heat exposure. To remove the gasket take some self-tapping screws and partially screw them into the group gasket. Make sure not to go all the way through the gasket because you can scratch/dent the grouphead if you go too far. Then use a pair of pliers to pull on the screws and the gasket will pull out with them.
From The Grouphead
This section addresses leaking which is coming directly from the grouphead, known as the E-61 style. If the machine is experiencing leaking between the grouphead and the portafilter refer to the “Between Portafilter & Grouphead” section of this article which discusses grouphead gasket issues.
- There are multiple valves and o-rings which are part of the E-61 itself. Depending on where the leak is coming from, it may indicate an issue with one or more of these assemblies.
- If the leaking is coming from the lever arm of the machine, then there is an o-ring that is loose, dirty, or worn out. A blowout of the lever assembly can be seen on p.10 of the machine's parts diagram. The o-rings that will need to be checked are listed as part 9 and part 14, and the valve assembly listed as part 30.
- To access these o-rings remove the end cap of the lever assembly using a flathead screwdriver.
- Once this is removed the other components of the grouphead assembly can begin to be slipped off. The bolts that the lever slides into can be removed with open ended wrenches or an adjustable wrench.
- Inspect the o-rings and make sure they are not damaged. It's possible that they are just dirty and need to be cleaned off and reseated. If they are damaged, broken, or show signs of chafing then they will need to be replaced.
- Inspect the valve components as well to make sure they are intact.
- Reassemble the components and see if leaking is resolved.
- If the leak is coming from the top bolt assembly, then there is an o-ring that is loose, dirty, or worn out. A blowout of the top valve assembly, known as the mushroom or trumpet valve, can be found on p.10 of the machine's parts diagram. There are a few components which can be contributing to the leaking. There are two o-rings, listed as parts 2, 6 on this page of the diagram. There is also a valve assembly shown as part 35 on the same page.
- To access these parts use an open ended wrench or adjustable wrench to remove the smaller top bolt of the E-61. This will give you access to the first o-ring and spring assembly.
- To access further down into this part of the grouphead use a wrench to remove the large bolt. This will let you access the other o-ring, another spring assembly, and the other valve assembly.
- Inspect all of these components for integrity. Clean any dirty parts and replace any broken parts.
- Reassemble the grouphead and see if the leaking is resolved.
- If the leak is coming from the relief valve on the bottom of the E-61, then there may be an o-ring that is loose/dirty or a valve inside the E-61 that is stuck open. A blowout of the bottom valve assembly, known as the release valve, can be found on p.10 of the machine's parts diagram. There are two o-rings in this assembly, listed as parts 9 and 25 on the diagram, and two valve assemblies, listed as parts 19 and 22 on the diagram, that can be causing the leak.
- To access these parts use an open ended wrench or adjustable wrench to remove the smaller bottom bolt. You will be able to access part 25, the o-ring, and part 22, one of the valve assemblies. Inspect the parts. If they are dirty clean them off, if they are broken replace them.
- To access the next o-ring and valve assembly use a wrench to remove the larger of the bolts. Again, inspect the parts for cleanliness and damage. Clean or replace as needed.
- Reassemble the release valve and test to see if the leaking is resolved.
- If cleaning and repairing a particular valve assembly has not worked, then it may be prudent to do a complete cleaning of the E-61 grouphead assembly. Instructions for cleaning the entire E-61 can be found by clicking here.
- If the machine is leaking between the grouphead and the faceplate of the machine where the grouphead attaches, then there may be a bad gasket or loose bolts. There are two possible reasons for the machine to be leaking from here.
- The first is that one of the plumb lines connected to the back of the E-61 is not secure resulting in a leak. This will need to be tightened from the inside of the machine. You may see leaking from the bottom of the machine as well if this is the case. Remove the top of the machine and look towards the front of the machine. These lines will be located on the back of the faceplate, opposite to where the grouphead is seated. They are listed as parts 6 and 19 on p.12 of the machine's parts diagram. Use an open ended wrench or adjustable wrench to tighten these down. If the leaking persists you may need to apply white Teflon plumbers tape or a sealing compound such as food-safe Permabond.
- The other possibility is that the E-61 group chassis gasket is not sealing tightly, or is worn out or damaged and will need to be replaced. The chassis gasket is listed as part 10 on p.10 of the parts diagram. There are two bolts which secure the E-61 to the machine chassis, causing it to press on the gasket and create a seal. The bolt assemblies are located behind the grouphead on the inside of the machine. Try tightening these two bolts down; if tightening these bolts does not resolve the leak, then the chassis gasket will need to be replaced.
From Bottom Of Machine
- Check the water tank and drip tray to make sure there are no cracks or breaks where water can escape. Make sure they are properly positioned on the machine.
- Open the machine and check all of the connections to make sure they are securely attached.
- Examine the pump and boiler assemblies to see if there are any cracks in them. If the machine was exposed to sub-freezing conditions without being properly drained it can cause these components to crack. These parts will need to be replaced if they are cracked.
- Make sure both the inlet line and the outlet line on the pump are securely connected.
- Check the various valves located on top of the boiler assembly.
- If water is leaking from the relief valves, then the boiler may be overfilling. Distilled, reverse osmosis, and zero water are not compatible with this style of machine as the water level probe depends on minerals in the water to detect its presence. These water types do not contain minerals, and so the machine will continuously fill until it overflows, usually resulting in water leaking from the relief valves.
- If water is leaking from the relief valves even though you are using water that contains minerals, then you may need to clean the water level probe.
- If the machine is plumbed, then there may be too much pressure at the inlet line. The pressure restrictor may need to be adjusted, or if you do not have a pressure restrictor installed you may need to install one.
- If the valves are leaking directly from where they screw into the boiler, then they may have a broken seal. Try resealing the valves by using white Teflon plumbers tape or food-safe Permabond and screwing them back into the boiler.
- If there are any broken or cracked hoses, or hoses with pinhole leaks, they will need to be replaced.
- If your machine features drain plumbing, make sure the drain line is securely attached and that water is being correctly directed into the drain cup.
- If you cannot find the source of the leak, it's possible the water you are seeing is from water spilled when refilling the machine, or from the drip tray being out of position. It is also possible to run the unit with the casing off to help identify the source of the leak; precautions should be taken to protect yourself from any exposed wiring or hot water or steam that comes from the machine if you attempt this.
Steam From Top Of Machine
If there is steam coming from the top of the machine then one of the relief valves is venting steam.
- If the steam is leaking from the machine while it is heating up, with more and more steam coming from the top as the machine heats more, then the steam is coming from the vacuum relief valve.
- The vacuum relief valve is meant to vent steam until a certain amount of pressure has built up in the boiler. It is normal for this valve to vent steam as the machine is heating. Once enough steam pressure is built up in the boiler the valve will pop closed.
- If the machine is fully heated and the vacuum relief valve is still not closing then it may need to be cleaned.
- If cleaning the vacuum relief valve has not resolved the issue, then the vacuum relief valve may be broken and will need to be replaced.
- If the steam is leaking from the machine after it is fully heated, then the pressure relief valve may be relieving excess steam pressure.
- The pressurestat may need to be lowered. If the pressure is set too high the relief valve may open.
- The pressure relief may be stuck open.
- If the relief valve is still opening, then either the pressurestat or the relief valve may be broken and will need to be replaced.
From Steam Wand Or Hot Water Tap
- If either wand is leaking from the end of the wand, it means the steam/hot water valve is not fully closed.
- Make sure the knob is securely in the closed position.
- If the knob feels loose, or doesn't appear to be properly engaging, then there may be a loose or broken part in the knob assembly.
- If the leaking persists, then the corresponding valve may need to be replaced.
- If the wand is leaking between the tip and the arm of the wand during use, there is an o-ring that is broken, missing, or out of position. Unscrew the tip that is leaking and check the o-ring that seals the tip to the wand. Make sure all of the parts are clean and that the o-ring isn't damaged or broken. The metal steam or hot water tips can be soaked in a solution of hot water and backflushing powder for more effective cleaning.
- If the wand is leaking from the ball joint, then there may be an o-ring that is worn out or out of position. The following instructions apply to both the steam and hot water wands.
- First remove the wand arm. This can be done by unscrewing the hex shaped nut at the top of the arm using an adjustable or open-ended wrench.
- Once the wand is removed you may have parts stick to the valve assembly. Do not lose these parts. A blowout of both wand assemblies can be seen on p.8 of the parts diagram.
- There are a few different o-rings in this assembly. Make sure everything is clean and that the o-ring isn't damaged or broken.
How to Rebuild Steam and Hot Water Taps