<2 years in, regretting La Marzocco Linea Mini ownership

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by ahmet »

Maybe this helps someone with their future purchasing decision of La Marzocco home machines.

I bought a Linea Mini less than two years ago, and the supposed "work horse" keeps needing regular repairs with my at-home use, meanwhile my friends with 10 year old cheaper machines like Rocket didn't even need servicing once.

Now, the US team has been always helpful about the repair requests over email/phone. This is purely about the production of the machines and the marketed perception.

9 months in, the first fault on my machine was a "factory production issue" as the technician claimed. The probe that was supposed to detect the water level could no longer detect the water levels, so the machine kept drawing water from the reservoir every 30 seconds or so, and and discarded it to the drip tray.

Thankfully, the machine was not plumbed in and my house didn't flood overnight. :? The technician said the probe in the boiler was covered in some grease. He claimed factory line was likely doing multiple things at the same time and contaminated the probe tip with grease. (Remember, their selling line is handcrafted in Firenze, so much for that?)

Second fault was this week, less than 2 years in. I have a leaking vacuum breaker. There's regular sound of dripping/hissing inside the machine.

Now, I could probably repair this myself but
  • why does this workhorse keep breaking?
  • why does a critical piece like the vacuum breaker is "considered an annual maintenance part and is therefore not covered under warranty"? this is not a gasket? this makes me think this fault happens all the time.
  • La Marzocco doesn't even have the replacement breaker valve themselves. Their service recommends retrofitting another one, and informing you this has been the case for 2+ years according to my friend who also owns the machine.
I'm disappointed for this "lifetime purchase" needing professional servicing every year so far.

If I were to continue owning this machine 30 more years, am I looking at 30 more repairs? Where's the marketed "reliability" in this picture?

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#2: Post by Jaroslav »

I thought you'd like to know:


Vacuum breaker fails due to a gasket not sealing properly. It's a "consumable" part and gaskets simply need to be replaced from time to time. That's why it's not covered by warranty. It's considered normal wear, not a fault.

The first issue mentioned was due to human error. I'm sure you, as a human, make errors daily too.

These two instances in two years of the machine working don't mean that the machine is not reliable. "Workhorse" doesn't mean you won't have to replace a gasket here and there.

ahmet (original poster)

#3: Post by ahmet (original poster) »

That's not my argument. I'm making a post to highlight that "if you buy a LMLM, expect to require servicing to replace your breaker valve at ~2 years of home use".

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#4: Post by Jaroslav replying to ahmet »

I thought this was common knowledge. At least as per Linea Mini's preventative maintenance checklist it is.

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#5: Post by baldheadracing »

Cleaning/re-building/replacing the vacuum breaker is part of regular maintenance, just like cleaning/lubricating/replacing the group gasket, cleaning/replacing the shower screen, etc.

La Marzocco is most likely assuming that a technician is servicing the machine at least annually, so, due to labour costs, it is often less expense to the owner to replace parts rather than clean or re-build them.

Regardless, the machine isn't a household appliance that is disposed once it breaks; the machine is designed and built to need regular maintenance. All prosumer machines that I can think of are the same.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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#6: Post by HB »

ahmet wrote:9 months in... The probe that was supposed to detect the water level could no longer detect the water levels, so the machine kept drawing water from the reservoir every 30 seconds or so, and and discarded it to the drip tray... The technician said the probe in the boiler was covered in some grease.
Hmm-m, the problem was grease from the factory? That would make sense if it happened on day 1, but 9 months in? Another possibility is the water level sensor is coated with scale. That will cause it to no longer detect ground and continue refilling the steam boiler.
ahmet wrote:...less than 2 years in... I have a leaking vacuum breaker. There's regular sound of dripping/hissing inside the machine.
I've had a La Marzocco Strada since 2009 and never replaced the vacuum breaker. :?

It's not a complicated part, basically a weighted pin (#3) that's pushed up against a seal (#2) by steam pressure. In cases where I have seen a leaky vacuum breaker on other espresso machines, it's been caused by (a) scale buildup on the sealing surface (#2) due to hard water, or (b) a dried out O-ring (#4) typically for machines with lots of years and start/stop cycles. For (a), a quick soak in vinegar suffices, though treating the water for hardness is the long-term solution. For (b), replace the O-ring.

Typical vacuum breaker

It may be coincidence, but both the problems you cited are symptoms of scale buildup. It may be worth checking for that, e.g., pull out the water level sensor probe and see if it has scale buildup.
Dan Kehn

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#7: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Welcome to HB Ahmet

Any espresso machine be it consumer, prosumer, 'professional' or commercial will require service and maintenance. I wish I was told that in no uncertain terms before we bought our 1st machine. You can expect issues on even the most expensive machines even straight out of the crate.

My best advice would be to buy yourself a set of metric tools if you don't already own them, roll up your sleeves and to use this site for some of the things it does best, diagnosing, trouble shooting and the most amazing help and support you'll find anywhere on this planet to help you to resolve your own technical issues.

Just ask, 'How can I resolve and fix this problem myself?'. You'll be amazed at the support you'll find and you'll be even more amazed when you fix it yourself!

Every challenge that you overcome provides the self-confidence to handle the next one that's just around the corner.

'Water, pressure, heat, hot water, steam, electronics, electricity, all, in 1-box! Heck - what could possibly go wrong?' :mrgreen:
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"


#8: Post by flyingtoaster »

If you didn't have these problems, would you still have signed up for HB and made a post about how your machine has been running perfectly for 2 years?

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#9: Post by Pressino replying to flyingtoaster »

Whether he joined to complain or compliment his machine shouldn't matter. I've noted plenty of recent threads where veteran HB members have complained and argued quite heatedly about quite a few different coffee making devices and their manufacturers (just look at the recent thread about Niche Zero marketing and VAT...)

HB.com provides forums to discuss all things relating to coffee and thus serve as a resource to those who love coffee. The OP came here, I imagine, to say something about his espresso machine, which happened to be a complaint. It's also clear he didn't realize vacuum breaker valves are expected to require maintenance. Now he knows that, but perhaps that could have been explained to him more sympathetically, just as the apparent error made in the machine's assembly at the factory. In regard to the fill-probe and the vacuum breaker, I agree with HB that scale could be a concern.

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#10: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Yes I would check the water. I see this with Slayers often. Sorry it is frustrating to you at this point. If you study the annual maintenance and get accustomed to what is needed, it may change your feelings. Note that the Slayer preventative maintenance schedule is designed around shops, so I don't feel a need or recommend people do it annually. Every other year is probably fine and for some parts they can go longer.
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