Recently I needed to contact De’Longhi about an issue I had been experiencing with my EC-155 espresso maker, so first a little background in case you’ve had a similar issue.
Here’s how I make a latte:
- Let the machine warm up at least the requisite 15 minutes the manual suggests. When the machine is warmed up, grind and dose out the coffee in the portafilter.
- Turn the machine up to steam and let it come up to temperature. Get the milk in the mean time.
- Steam the milk.
- Pull excess steam and water through the steam wand to bring it back under temperature and let it come up to temperature for the espresso.
- Brew the espresso.
And after all of that is said and done, I clean the machine. Basically this routine is what I’ve seen recommended by Seattle Coffee Gear, from whom I purchased the machine in April 2012. If you’ve read any of my other articles on my espresso maker, you may already be aware that I’ve also made a couple upgrades to my machine (here and here).
So what’s the issue I’ve been having?
To make a long story short, water has been coming out of the steam wand when it should not be. For example, while the machine is warming up, water will fast drip out of the steam wand, and steam will come out of it as well while it’s sitting idle and warming up completely. When I’m brewing coffee, water will also come out of the steam wand – this will obviously have an impact on the quality of the shots I’m pulling.
Seattle Coffee Gear distributes “tune-up kits” for various espresso machines. On their YouTube page, they uploaded a video describing the “tune-up kit” they have for the Saeco Via Venezia, which comes with a brew gasket, diffuser screen, and a valve and valve spring that goes inside the brew head. On the video for the Via Venezia, I said this:
Given the problems described that warrant replacing the valve and spring, I need to do that to my EC155. It’s over a year old, so I think replacing all the small parts in the brew group would be beneficial.
In the video, SCG technician Brendan mentioned the problem I’m experiencing as a possible issue related to the valve spring, in particular, going bad: “If you’re brewing and you’re seeing it dripping from your steam wand, you want to replace this.” Unfortunately SCG doesn’t distribute the tune-up kit for De’Longhi machines. In response to my comment, Kat Oak, part of SCG’s Marketing and Communications team, said this:
Let us know if you can find them! We repair DeLonghis, but they don’t sell us parts for the small machines like yours 🙁 If you find a source, please post it here for other owners (if you don’t mind) – Kat
I ordered the parts from eReplacementParts.com, and I ordered the same parts that would comprise a tune-up kit if Seattle Coffee Gear was making one: valve and valve spring, gasket and diffuser. I also discovered through De’Longhi’s customer service page that parts can also be ordered through a company called Encompass Supply Chain Solutions.
But given that I’ve upgraded the steam wand on the machine, I’ve also had a bit of experience with tearing one apart, so while waiting for the parts, I decided to do just that. I tore down the machine, including taking down the boiler. And seeing in person what the various diagrams have shown, I was skeptical that the parts in question were going to take care of my issue, even though the boilers for the Saeco Aroma and the De’Longhi EC-155 have similar designs. So also while waiting for the parts, I sent this e-mail to De’Longhi’s support e-mail address:
I have a De’Longhi EC-155 which I’ve owned since April 2012. Over the last couple months, I’ve been noticing something odd.
While the machine is warming up, water comes out of the steam wand at about the same degree as a dripping faucet. Bear in mind this occurs with the steam/water valve closed. When I’m brewing espresso, water comes out of the steam wand at what appears to be about the same volume and velocity as it comes through the diffuser. I observed something similar during a recent descaling. While the machine is warming up for steam, water and steam will come out of the steam wand, again with the valve closed.
Given the machine is over a year old, I’m wondering if there are parts that need to be replaced. Please advise on what I could do to troubleshoot this issue and correct it.
I sent this message on July 7, 2013. The reply came on July 23, 2013. Basically all they said is to contact a service center. Well the only service center I would consider calling – Seattle Coffee Gear – has already told me through a video likely what they would tell me via e-mail or over the phone. And they’ve also already said they don’t have parts.
Here’s De’Longhi’s response in full:
Dear Valued DeLonghi Customer,
Thank you for contacting DeLonghi Customer Service. My name is Anthony, 409852, and I’ll be more than glad to help you today.
I am sorry to hear about your issues with the steam wand. Unfortunately, the issue would be internal and we would have limited information about what could be replaced to resolve the issue. These unit are normally replaced and not serviced. If you are wanting to get service, here is where to go to check for a nearest location, http://delonghiusa.com/support/service_centers. You would call one of the Service Centers for more information on the process for sending in for repair.
Thank you again for contacting DeLonghi Customer Service,
Good thing I’d already ordered the parts, as I have no interest in sending it in for repair.
So did the parts do the trick? Nope. As expected, replacing the small parts did not curtail or alleviate my problem. Instead I think the problem is more in line with the parts of the boiler that are not easily removed and/or replaced: the tap on the top of the boiler through which the steam and hot water travel.
And I wasn’t willing to go out and buy the tools needed to thoroughly dissect the boiler down to every last bolt, nut and gasket, so I just gave up on it. Perhaps some other time.
Instead I’ve recently replaced the machine with a Breville BES840XL, also known as “the Infuser”. Otherwise the De’Longhi was a good machine while it lasted, and upgrading the basket and steam wand prepared me pretty well for the new machine.