E61 plumbed in — is drain line also required?

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JonF

Postby JonF » Dec 03, 2018, 1:43 pm

I am considering a Lelit Bianca, and would like to plumb it in. I already have a water supply with for my La Spaziale, so the supply is no problem. But I do not have plans to plumb the drip tray.

When I visited La Marzocco in Seattle, they stressed also plumbing the drain if using their GS3 as the group might develop leaks with time and overflow the drip tray. But I also know their group is not an e61 design.

While I have read a lot about E61 groups, I was wondering if there would be any special concern about leaking while off (not brewing) but under line pressure?

[PS: Only had one large spill so far. I had my Livia on a timer, but flipped both power and brew switches by mistake :roll: . Luckily it's a small tank . . .]

JayBeck

Postby JayBeck » replying to JonF » Dec 03, 2018, 3:58 pm

I don't think you're going to get a consistent answer. There seems to be two schools of thought:

1) The "I've had my machine plumbed in for 'x' years and haven't had a problem" crowd;
2) The "I'd never plumb in a machine without a drain because you could have catastrophic damage" crowd.

Within each school there are advocates and stories. I actually asked this question to a major retailer of E61 machines who advocates plumbing in machines and sells water filtration systems to boot. This retailer was firmly in the #2 crowd and told me not to do it as it's not worth the risk. I want to side with #1 because my entire life has revolved around a refrigerator with an ice maker and no plumbed drain. But retailers know these machines very well and I think what they are saying is there is a lot more than can go wrong than a fridge that would cause a leak and major damage.

So I would take the wisdom of no plumbing unless you can do it right. At least with the Bianca, you get real preinfusion without plumbing via the paddle. Almost every other pump machine except the BDB, Conical Valve GS3MP, Vesuvius, and Rocket R60V / R9, and DE1 (did I miss one???) require a plumbed water line for preinfusion.

speedplay

Postby speedplay » Dec 03, 2018, 5:07 pm

I don't understand the argument that it needs to be drained to prevent a catastrophic flood event. If it is going to fail and leak it is probably going to happen inside the machine or at the stainless steel braided cable (barring having a GS3 or making an absent minded mistake) in either of those cases having the machine set up with a drain line off of the drip tray is not going to prevent anything at all. What you would need is a leak sensor to detect water around or under the machine.

If you had a malfunctioning OPV and you are getting a lot of water draining into the drip tray then having a drain line would then definitely prevent a very very minor leak event. Same with a GS3 developing a slight leaky group (it is never going to gush out like a water line leak at very high pressure).

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bluesman

Postby bluesman » Dec 03, 2018, 6:52 pm

speedplay wrote:If it is going to fail and leak it is probably going to happen inside the machine or at the stainless steel braided cable (barring having a GS3 or making an absent minded mistake) in either of those cases having the machine set up with a drain line off of the drip tray is not going to prevent anything at all. What you would need is a leak sensor to detect water around or under the machine...If you had a malfunctioning OPV and you are getting a lot of water draining into the drip tray then having a drain line would then definitely prevent a very very minor leak event.

I agree. Most e61s have no 3 way solenoid and are not going to leak suddenly and heavily from the group because there's no place from which to leak. I seem to recall reading about an e61 machine that did have a 3 way, but I can't remember what it was (if it's even correct). An e61 can leak from the exhaust, but this happens from wear in the mechanism and would start as a minor drip and progress only if ignored. The OPV in my ECM drains into the drip tray, so that could be a source if it let go. Most do not have a dedicated conduit to the tray, though - so an OPV leak would be internal and escape through the bottom of the machine.

A plumbed Oscar can leak into the drip tray from the group if the Neplex valve fails - I know this because it happened to mine.

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grog

Postby grog » Dec 03, 2018, 7:17 pm

I don't have an E61, but my machine is plumbed in and has a drain line. I would recommend it simply because it's easy, and it makes everything so convenient. When you pull your cup on the shot, you just let it continue to flow into the tray and on into the drain. Same for flushing groups or wands, just goes down the drain. Because of where I have my machine set up, I have my drain line go into a condensate pump that pumps into a sink. So far maintenance is disconnecting the drain line every 3-4 months to clean out accumulated grounds (I know it's time when the drain box is slow to empty) and give the entire drip tray assembly a good scrub at that time too. So much easier than having to dump the drip tray every brew session.
LMWDP #514

JonF

Postby JonF » Dec 03, 2018, 10:06 pm

Thanks all for the help and advice. A photo of my current setup is below. I am really lucky to be so close to a sink. I ran the water line in and out of the wall thru some 1-1/2" PVC pipe and avoided a hole in the granite. I can't see myself drilling a hole to add the drain, so if I do change I think I will just take my chances. I do have a separate shut-off that I close when we travel.

Image

On a related note, the low cabinets limits my choice of machine quite a bit. The Bianca would fit, as would the DE and even the Linea Mini.

MrBromeo

Postby MrBromeo » Dec 04, 2018, 2:47 am

I recently plumbed in an ECM Synchronika. As drilling holes in the granite countertop was a non-starter, we ran the supply line up through a stud bay behind the counter.

The drain line is braid reinforced clear vinyl hose. It is simply routed along the backsplash and discreetly weeps into the nearby sink via a couple of barbed 90-deg elbows. The drain has already paid for itself after the group lever was accidentally left in the 45 position and quietly dribbling water for some time until discovered.

We also have a WaterBug flood sensor in the cabinet below where the RO system is, and that is set up to cut water to the house if tripped (we have them under all water appliances).

billt

Postby billt » Dec 04, 2018, 4:58 am

speedplay wrote:I don't understand the argument that it needs to be drained to prevent a catastrophic flood event. If it is going to fail and leak it is probably going to happen inside the machine or at the stainless steel braided cable (barring having a GS3 or making an absent minded mistake) in either of those cases having the machine set up with a drain line off of the drip tray is not going to prevent anything at all. What you would need is a leak sensor to detect water around or under the machine.


Quite. All the leaks I've ever had have missed the drip tray entirely. The most likely catastrophic failures are likely to be in the supply line (had one of those) and the drip tray isn't going to help.

First plumbed in machine I used the drip tray drain, which was OK, but the drain would get clogged with grinds after some time and it was a pain to unclog it because the drain line wasn't very accessible. The second machine I only plumbed in the supply, but changed my technique to use a cup to catch flushing water etc. As it was a lever machine and I used a cup to catch the end of the pull anyway, it wasn't that much of a change.

I'm not going to plumb in te current machine at all.

No, you don't need to have a drain on the drip tray, but if it's convenient there's no reason not to have one.

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bluesman

Postby bluesman » Dec 04, 2018, 1:48 pm

billt wrote:First plumbed in machine I used the drip tray drain, which was OK, but the drain would get clogged with grinds after some time and it was a pain to unclog it because the drain line wasn't very accessible.

Plumbing the drip tray requires enough height under the machine to provide a significant vertical drop to the line and to give you access for cleaning it out. Unless the drain hose runs through the counter top, this usually means using longer legs or putting lifts under the ones that come on home machines, to let the line drop as it runs to its outlet. Commercial machines are built for this but most of ours are not, even though many offer or provide a drip pan plumbing kit. From what I've heard and read, the commonest causes of clogged pan drains appear to be too little downward angulation and tight or kinked flexible hoses.

I've heard so many clogged drain stories that I wouldn't plumb my drip trays. On the other hand, I've been thrilled with a water line connection on my last 2 machines and wouldn't want to go back to filling a reservoir unless I had no choice. I do have a flood mitigation system with water sensors and a solenoid valve on the water line to the machine.

sluflyer06

Postby sluflyer06 » Dec 04, 2018, 2:36 pm

The only reason a drain line would clog is improper slope.

I added a drain line to my setup a month ago and 110 shots later there isn't a single visible coffee particle anywhere in the drain line.

We have a dedicated wet bar for coffee, I simply replaced the PVC going from the sink to the P-trap with a section that included a 5/8th Barb that would normally go to drain of a dishwasher.