Water loss is a problem (not necessarily a fault, as we will see later) that mainly affects coffee machines with a high-pressure water circuit, such as espresso machines and capsule machines. Due to their technology and extraction methods, other types of coffee machines such as drip coffee machines, Italian coffee machines and french press coffee machines hardly suffer from these losses.
If you own one of these espresso machines, especially if you’ve had it for years, you’ve likely encountered this type of problem at some point, one of the most common with these machines.
When does a coffee machine lose water?
When this happens to your coffee maker, it is usually not due to a single, specific cause: many factors can influence whether a coffee maker loses water. In this article, we will try to collect the most common ones and provide some practical solutions for them.
Interestingly, many users have the exact opposite problem, as we can see in the article entitled my Dolce Gusto coffee maker does not pour water.
Anyway, let’s get to the point: if your coffee maker is leaking, read on because you will probably find the explanation and the solution in the following lines. We will distinguish between three main groups of cases in which a coffee maker loses water.
My coffee machine loses water underneath
It is a very common problem in espresso machines (manual, above all), but it can also occur in capsule machines. It happens when, when starting the coffee machine, we observe that it loses water through its base. A small puddle of water – or not so little depending on how it leaks – will form on your worktop and will appear underneath the coffee maker as soon as you get careless.
If your brewer is leaking water underneath, it’s probably because of a broken component or a poorly sealed seal. To find out, first disassemble the brewer and check which parts are susceptible to water leakage.
To disassemble the brewer, you’ll need a screwdriver and remove the back panels. Maybe the top one too. Of course, this depends on the particular model of brewer. Also, remember that this should only be done if the warranty on your coffee machine has already expired. If you have it under warranty, do not open it because it will invalidate it. It is better to take it directly to the technical service.
The most common elements that may leak are the water tank and the boiler (where the water passes through to heat it).
- To check the water tank, remove it and make sure that it is not broken anywhere and that the connections to the body of the coffee machine are in perfect condition. The widespread problem is that the rubber gasket that seals the joint between the tank and the coffee maker has deteriorated over time. If this happens to you, we recommend that you go to a hardware store with your coffee maker, and buy a gasket of the right shape and diameter to fit perfectly. It will only cost you a few cents, you won’t need to dismantle the coffee maker, and you’ll be sure to have that connection well sealed for a long time.
- About the boiler, the problems usually come from the seal that joins the heat resistance to the pan itself. The water circuit continually passes through this point, and if the joint is damaged or deteriorated over time, it will escape, leaving a dark stain on the wall of the boiler and dripping out.
And how do I find out if any of these elements are damaged?
The best way to check for a leak or breakage is to run the brewer “naked”, with the lids or panels removed. This way, you will detect any water leakage at once. It’s much easier than trying to find out where a break is in plain sight.
Practical example (a broken pipe):
What do I do if I have already detected the element that is leaking?
Well, most of the time it will be a break or crack, so you will have to replace it with a new component at your nearest spare parts store or service centre.
If you are a handyman, you can try to weld them yourself (using a specialized glue or cold welding), but we recommend that you change the entire component. In the long run, it is much more practical and also more economical. It’s better to leave them as a last resort, when there’s no other choice.
Another possibility is that it is just a sleeve or connection that has come loose, but no component is damaged. In this case, it is sufficient to reset the free element to its initial position manually.
For example, the tube that drains off excess water into the drip tray may become loose. Or the water tank may not be properly connected to the brewer.
On espresso machines, and even on capsule machines, the water in the drip tray may overflow and then comes out from the bottom of the coffee machine. It is less frequent and is because we have forgotten to empty and clean the drip tray as often as necessary.
My coffee maker is losing water through the coffee group
It is another problem unique to espresso machines.
It occurs when water comes out of the edges of the ladle or filter where we have served the ground coffee. This water will escape in small quantities, little by little, and you will notice how small drops are slipping along the handle of the filter holder.
The cause of this loss of water usually resides in the joint of the coffee group, which may be deteriorated or directly broken. This gasket is often a black rubber (it can also be made of silicone) that is placed around the spout. Its function is to make as much pressure as possible against the filter holder, so that the space is hermetically sealed. You can see it in the first picture that illustrates this report, although here we show you another perspective of the place where the filter holder is fitted, seen from below:
Once the rubber has been replaced or repaired, it is not a bad idea to decalcify or clean the coffee group with a specific product. Often it is the blockages that cause the liquid element to take the wrong path or the seals to break down prematurely.
For example, in this video, we see how a Delonghi espresso machine loses water from below, without even having started it up once.
My coffee maker is leaking water around the capsule
A problem that sometimes happens in capsule coffee machines is that the water is not injected correctly through the capsule.
When the process is carried out cleanly, the water passes directly from the coffee maker into the capsule, goes through the capsule at great pressure and comes out the bottom of the capsule into our cup.
If there are any cracks, the water will not only come out of the bottom of the capsule but also from the sides, and even from the capsule compartment. In a word: it will spill and fall anywhere, but into the glass or cup you have prepared just below the spout.
As an example, here you can see the consequence of this problem in a Dolce Gusto Circolo:
It can be for several reasons:
- Firstly, the nozzle or spout where the water comes out is obstructed and does not allow the liquid to flow smoothly. If this is the case, all you have to do is unplug it with a pin or needle (note: consult your brewer’s manual because not all brands have the same assembly, and by doing this you may be damaging another component). Dolce Gusto coffee machines, for example, usually come with a cleaning needle as standard to clean the nozzle.
- Secondly, the capsule may be defective. If you reuse used capsules, or if you use poorly sealed refillable capsules, this is more common. But it can also happen in new capsules with a defective aluminium cap. In any of these cases, the consequence is that the capsule is not hermetically sealed. Therefore the water – which we must remember is circulating under high pressure – leaks out through every little opening in its path.
- Thirdly, sometimes the capsule is in good condition, but we have placed it poorly in its compartment, and therefore when we lower the lever, our coffee machine has not perforated it well. It is essential to be aware that the capsules need to be in an exact position for the coffee extraction to be carried out in the right way. So, although it may seem obvious, check that the capsule is correctly positioned before starting the coffee maker.
When the capsule is correctly sealed without defects, the water turned into the coffee can only come out through the lower hole provided for this purpose.
The following video explains these problems in great detail for a Nespresso coffee machine:
As we explained in the previous step, regardless of the problem and the solution we apply, it is always good to do a decalcification. It ensures that there are no obstacles or sediments in the water circuit.