What’s covered in the grouphead maintenance service?
Grouphead maintenance will cover only the front part of the machine, on the grouphead and the wands where there are exposed to the most wear and tear.
1. Replacement of grouphead gasket
The gasket that takes the most damage from wear and tear. Serve to secure a seal between the machine and the portafilter.
2. Replacement of shower screen
Water disperse from the shower screen to the coffee. If grouphead flushing wasn’t done diligently, rancid oil from the remnants may pass on to the next cup and cause an uneven distribution of water.
3. Cleaning grouphead sprayer. (If available)
The part where water gets distributed evenly to the coffee bed.
4. Replacement of steam wand seals
Over time, the steam wand may become stiff and the friction cause damage to the gaskets, resulting in water leakage.
5. Lubricating of steam and water wand
All lubrication will be done with a higher grade lubricant, used by the factory from Bezzera. If the lubricant wears off, it makes the wand stiff in moving and can loosen the entire steam wand from the machine.
6. Replacement of cams, gears and gaskets in the grouphead
This is the internal of the grouphead that may get worn off from usage. This is the part E61 cost alot more in term of parts and labour. They have several times more parts and takes 3x as long to service.
The following are NOT included.
The following parts can be replaced upon request or under our recommendation when we do a check. Price will vary depending on the model.
We will provide a 40% discount to the replacement of the components if it’s done together with grouphead servicing.
Do note that our technicians can’t visually see through the machine to observe the condition, as such assessment can’t be 100% accurate. We will still recommend replacing certain components even if they are deem working. Normally replacements are required more often if:
- The machine was used with untreated water that had never been softened. Worse, if the user was using mineral water.
- The machine was switched on 24/7, all the time.
- Users who backflush for long durations and the machine is using a vibration pump.
- The premise’s power supply is prone to surge.
The most common reason for machines to fail is from limescale build-up. You can refer to this article: Water softening
Here are some of the tune up jobs you can request.
Replacement of power relay (Recommended)
If your machine has a tic-tac sound while it’s on standby, it’s coming from this switch. This component does a lot of work whenever the machine is on.
Replacement of Pressurestat
Most of our machines sold are with a pressurestat. If your machine does not have digital temperature control, which has a display. Also, if you hear a tic-tac sound every 1-2 minutes after the machine fully heat up, your machine is using a pressurestat.
Replacement of vacuum relief valve
This bleeds out air from the boiler when the machine cools. It’s not connected to any electronics but they do need regular replacement if the user had not been using softened water.
Replacement of pump
For machines that use a vibration pump, the typical lifespan is around 5 years.
Vibration pumps can fail for various reasons, the most common reason is due to overloading. This can easily happen in an environment where a large amount of coffee is served all the time, or the user has a habit of activating the pump for a long time for various reasons. It may go beyond the recommended duty cycle and cause damage to the pump. The duty cycle for all vibration pumps sold by Expobar and Bezzera, is one minute of rest for every two minutes of activation.
If the machine is using a rotary pump, they are not limited by duty cycle but Rotary pumps may get damaged if they run dry without water passing or limescale buildup.
Replacement of water level probes
The sensors that check the water level in your boiler. Machines that do not use softened water may have limescale covering the sensors. This can lead to major damages to the heating element, pump and other issues.
Replacement of overpressure valve
The valve that regulates the passing of water.
Replacement of PID
Your machine has a PID if it has a digital controller for temperature.
The PID is made up of a few electrical components. They are the temperature probe, the display and the controlling module.
Replacement of solenoid
Solenoids are electromagnetic switch, connected to a valve to control the flow of water. Most machines have at least 1 solenoid. Limescale formed from minerals in the water may jam the solenoid.
Replacement of heating element
Machines that do not use softened water may cause limescale to form around the heating element. Leading to heating and functionality issues. This component can also be damaged by power surge, or from other defective components.
Replacement of level controller
The main coordinator for all the functions. Normally damaged by a power surge or moisture.
Replacement of brew or boiler gauges
This allows you to read the status of your boiler and brew pressure. They are normally damaged from limescale buildup.
Capillary hoses to the brew/boiler gauges
These hoses are very narrow and are easily clogged by limescale.
Replacement of Safety Valve
Extra safety precaution for the espresso machine. Releases excess steam when the pressure exceeds safe values. The safety valve normally last for a long time. It’s totally mechanical and located at the top of the boiler.
Replacement of water hose
If your machine is clogged with limescale and water is unable to flow. Pressure has to be released from the weakest point and it’s normally from silicon hose with fittings that are designed to detach when pressure builds up to be too much.
A chemical rinse to reduce limescale from the machine.
Descaling had always been recommended by many espresso machines manufacturer but descaling comes with their own issues:
- The normal process of descaling can only reach where the descaler can flow to. It can’t reach the top of the boiler where many of the components are located and it’s always such limescale builds up that create issues. The descaler also can’t reach valves that are sealed by gaskets.
- Vibration pumps may not be able to withstand the process of descaling, it’s not uncommon to see pumps failing after descaling.
- Sometimes thick limescale can’t fully dissolve but flake off from the wall, the sediments may create issues in the valves.
- Descaling is actually erosive and strips away the protective layer of the metal, which can lead to some lead to start leaching. Though Bezzera is known to be using the best grade of material as prevention, this thinning of the metal is best avoided. A punctured boiler, will cost dearly.
- A type of descaling which involves disassembling the machine fully, stripping the components and dunking it with descaler can solve point (3), but this process is very tedious and very expensive. Since descaling agent is applied on both sides of the surface, it increases the stripping of the metal and adds on to issue stated on point (4).
If the machine is a heat exchanger, you can choose to do a quick descale on just the heat exchanger instead of the entire boiler. This can clear most of the passageway from the pump to the grouphead.
Normal full boiler descale, involves filling up your boiler with descaler, clean the heat exchanger, clears the heating element and the path to refill the boiler but you may want to pay attention to the points mentioned above.
The price for replacement varies, depending on the model of the machine.
It’s not necessary to replace most parts.
The cause of most major issues comes from using water that had not been softened adequately. This is the same for any types of coffee machines, except that semi-professional machines are designed to be serviceable. Users who diligently soften the water can expect their machines to last much longer before any repairs or maintenance required. To know more about water softening, please refer to the following page. Water softening
Also, it’s important to understand that the maintenance service should not be taken as a way to request a repair for any existing issues. A repair service will require more troubleshooting and investigation of the water circuitry and electrical network.
When should I do a maintenance?
It’s impossible to gauge when is maintenance required as it depends on the usage, cleaning habits from the user, and the water condition.
If you are in doubt, for Singapore, we recommend maintenance to be done once every 2-3 years or after 3000 extractions, whichever first.
If you switch your machine on all the time, you may not need to service the grouphead or wands every year but you may want to replace some parts like the relay. For a commercial or office environment, we will suggest doing a maintenance at least once a year. We note that machines used in offices, are usually poorly maintained.
Overall, your machine can last for decades under proper care.
Like any coffee machines, users should do preventive measures like grouphead flushing for E61/BZ machines and use softened water for all types of espresso machines. Regular descaling should be done if a softener is not used. Mineral water should never be used as minerals will form solids that will clog the system. If you wish to use a direct water supply, please attach a water softener before connecting to the coffee machine. Do note that not all water filters soften, check with your vendor for more information on its softening capability.
How long will it take to finish a maintenance?
Depending on the severity or any additional jobs required, it typically takes 4 to 8 hours just to replace all the small components.
Food grade sealant, which is the type of glue applied to pipe connections to prevent leaks will take a full day to strengthen and cure. Followed by pressure, heat tests and other observations. Reapplication of the food-grade sealant may be required again.
The technician is also unable to work on pressurised and hot machines, thus periods of cooling time are required. As such, maintenance is impossible to be completed in a day and can’t be hastened.
A job well done will take at least 3 working days to fully complete.
Do note that maintenance is base on first come first serve, thus a further waiting time might be required.
We will recommend clients to schedule maintenance before the peak seasons, especially Christmas and Chinese New Year.
Below are some photos of poorly maintained espresso machines used in Singapore
Please do not misunderstand that all professional or semi-professional machines are hard to be taken care of.
The issues above could be avoided if the user softens the water, perform grouphead flushing if necessary and purge the wands.
What models are accepted?
We only provide maintenance to models sold by our company.