With more knobs and whistles than the Star Ship Enterprise, it’s no wonder that coffee machines like this have become very popular among coffee lovers. From the comfort of your own kitchen, you can brew-up in much the same way as a skilled barista in your local coffee shop does. With a machine like this, you will rarely ever make a mistake, since all measurements and mixes are made at the touch of a button. It’s a compelling package for the coffee nerd.
However, as we all know from school, the more complicated we make something, there’s an increased likelyhood of it going wrong at some point in the future.
I mean, they’re just so darn complicated. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the mechanical packaging and clever processes within these machines, but if just one small part of the mechanism goes wrong, the whole thing fails and the machine is then useless. And these things are not cheap.
The Magnifica S is a premium machine and Delonghi have been making these products for many years, so luckily, some parts are available for when things fall over. In my experience, DeLonghi coffee machines are of reasonable quality.
Make and model: DeLonghi Magnifica S (ECAM 22.110.SB)
Fault reported: Major leak
Cost of replacement: £330-400 when new
Manufacturer support: 5/10
Cost of parts: £1.50
My repair time: 2 hours
Tools needed: Small screwdrivers, small levers, cutters
Sundry items: Cable ties
Cleaning materials: WD-40, damp cloth, soap and water
Repair difficulty: 6/10
Cups of tea: x2
Cups of coffee: x1
Biscuits: Ginger nut x2
The owner of this machine used it everyday and upon delivering it to me for repair, was anxious to get it back soon for his daily caffeine hit as soon as possible.
I had to explain that my ‘shed hours’ are part-time and that I would do my best, but that I would make sure the (assuming I could fix it) it would be returned soon, as good as new. I know how to set myself up (eek).
Appliances like this have lots of ‘vanity’ panels, pieces of trim and general niceties that ‘clip in to place’ without a separate mechanical fixing like a screw. When dismantling, it’s often these parts which take the longest to remove since there are rarely any notes available out there. It’s often the lion’s share of the overall repair time. You just have to go slow and take things easy. That moment when a small plastic tang or lug goes snap is heartbreaking.
Luckily here, the DeLonghi designers had some foresight and the product came apart with care, albeit with some hairy moments.
A water leak had been reported to be coming from the front of the machine during operation. With so many pipes in the machine, the source of the leak could have been anywhere, but fortunately the cause was soon identified. A small silicone (high temperature) hose had ruptured from the boiler valve area to the milk frother wand. Although it wasn’t always in use on every occasion, the pipe’s rupture seemed to be causing a consistent leak with any coffee brew operation. All other areas of the machine seemed dry. With a Chinese original supplier of coffee machine silicone pipe on eBay coming to the rescue, the part I needed was delivered in a week for under £5.00. Result.
The old hose simply came off by temporarily unclipping the metal spring clips at each end. The new pipe simply clipped into place, with a little attention paid to length, so that no pinch-points occurred.
Back to my original point about ‘complication’. I’d ‘got away with it’ on this repair, there’s no getting away from it. A small silicone hose was an easy fix, with just the overall repair made complicated by the machine’s packaging.
If a valve or plastic water vessel had failed, I suspect that the repair wouldn’t have been possible. As another part-time hobby, I source repair items from all over the world (insert environmental case study here!) and it’s usually tricky to get parts like that, if they’re available at all. When repairing, I use a mix of second-hand, generic and original equipment to achieve a balance of quality, cost-effectiveness and minimal environmental damage. It’s not easy. The problem for repair agents is that it takes time to work all of that out before the repair begins…it’s a constant dilema and blog article for another day.
When doing a job like this, it makes sense to make sure that all things that can’t be cleaned easily when assembled are inspected and washed as required.
The coffee group head was one such item. While it is possible to service this item with the machine fully assembled, it’s easier to clean it when it isn’t. I hope that the owner noticed a boost in coffee strength as many of the small water holes in the group head were blocked. Of course, I made sure that everything else was ship-shape too before reassembly.
After reattaching all of the appliance’s panels, it was time to give the machine a portable appliance test (PAT) and brew-up. A sucessful repair for small beans.