Gaggia Espresso Machine with a nasty blockage

A Gaggia Espresso machine gets a rebuild.

Home coffee machines are very cool.  Home espresso machines are even better as they’re the closest you can get to a coffee shop brew, in my opinion.  Due to heat, water and coffee mixing up on a regular basis, they need ownership with care for long life.

FixItWorkshop, Worthing, May’19, Gaggia Espresso Machine.

Top tips for longer coffee machine life:

  • Use filtered water, especially if you live in a hard water area
  • Clean the tank regularly
  • Keep all rubber seals, especially those around the main coffee making area, clean with a damp cloth

Someone got in touch with a machine that was a few years old, but had once made a lovely cup of coffee.  The owner had used it daily but recently it had begun to leak and not perform at its best.  The machine had also been to a UK repair specialist, but sadly, they couldn’t solve the problems.  I always test appliances when they arrive to confirm the fault and as expected, water came out of places it wasn’t supposed to.

I’ve worked on a few of these machines, so I know the drill.  Remove the lid, make a note of the wiring connectors, the pipes and remove the bolts holding the main boiler in place.  I also ordered a service kit (new seals) for a reasonable £7.99.

The main boiler separates into two halves which reveals the main boiler chamber and exit for hot water.

This boiler was in poor condition and years of corrosion and scale had built up and was probably blocking the main group head, the bit where you attach the group handle/ filter bit to make coffee.

Time for more dismantling.  The group head is held in position with a couple of screws, but years of corrosion had taken their toll and this head was going nowhere.  Great care was needed as the soft metal is easily damaged.

Thinking about this a bit more, I decided to cut a screw thread into one of the water holes in the head and use a bolt to lever the group head apart.  It worked.  Once off the head revealed loads of debris and scale.

The next job was to give all parts a thorough clean, re-faced with wet and dry paper as needed and use new seals as part of the reassembly.

Once back together, the boiler was reinstalled and reconnected.  After a few blasts of fresh water through the machine, it was ready to make its first proper brew.

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Cost of replacement:  £100-300.  Cost of repair:  £7.99, my time, one tin of elbow grease, one cup of coffee and a ginger nut.




Hi, my name's Matt and I'm on a mission to save everyday items from the bin. Many things are repairable, but we've seemingly fallen out of love with mending things. I aim to fix that by publishing each repair I carry out in the hope that others will be inspired to repair their things and keep them for longer.

8 thoughts on “Gaggia Espresso Machine with a nasty blockage”

  1. Is the wet and dry paper bit the hard bit? I’ve took apart my gaggia baby, it was sitting in the shed for a few years, the boiler is corroded, but the seals looked okay. I just descaled it, and it was no longer blocked. But the coffee tastes sticky/metallic. So I guess I have to do the job again, but this time sand down all the contours? Do I need to sand down the brass pipe too? That had some gunk on it, but I just tried to get as much off of it with what I had. Steve


    1. Be gentle with any sanding. I used a high grade paper to flatten off a very poor surface. All channels should be clear. Generally, you won’t need to touch the pipes with sandpaper. Good luck.


      1. Hi,
        Just bough a used Gaggia Espresso exactly like this one, to my surprise, the sticker on the bottom says it was made in 2001.
        The boiler look exactly the same as yours, but I can’t tell if it is all Brass or aluminium.
        From what kind of metal your boiler is made of?


  2. Hi have taken our one of these apart as far as easily could do descaled boiler – all seems to work but unfortunately no water comes through the head as was the problem before taking apart – it come through the steam head – any thoughts. Water is obviously being pumped into the boiler so I assume the pump works – I am stuck what to do?


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