Breville Oracle Touch not heating beyond 70C (158F)

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
tyoden

#1: Post by tyoden »

Hi everyone,

I own a Breville Oracle Touch (BES990) and am, well was quite happy with it. It never developed any issues and it's been going strong into the 3rd year. Recently however the coffee often gushed out and tasted watery. I already installed a new group head gasket and replaced the upper burr. I tried with finer grind settings, to no avail (I only use quality beans from respected roasters). It's difficult to tell if the pressure is too low as the machine doesn't have a pressure gauge, which I find quite appalling at this price level. I suspected a clogged solenoid valve that reduces pressure, and since I'm out of warranty, decided to take it apart following the guidance in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY3awNjH8r8

Luckily the solenoid was spot clean and to make sure it's not broken, I tested it with a multimeter (0.7kΩ). Reassembled it, turned the machine on, made ourselves 4 cups of coffee and then did the usual backflush before shutting it down. When I turned it on around six hours later, it wouldn't heat past 70C (158F), no matter how long I waited. According to some forum posts, trapped air can prevent the boilers from emptying, so I waited one hour, then opened both boiler valves. The steam valve (right hand screw) emptied (around 600 ml) but the espresso boiler (left hand screw) didn't release any water at all. Fired it up and the pump began working, replenishing the now empty steam boiler. But again the temperature wouldn't go higher than around 70C, so I shut it down and let it cool. I unplugged one of the temperature sensors from the espresso boiler to gain direct access, and to my surprise it was quite full. Drained it with a small pump, put all back together and tried again without success. The pump runs and fills the steam boiler, but the problem persists. The heating getting stuck at 70C indicates a blown thermal fuse on the steam boiler, but then again that's unlikely as I didn't go near the steam boiler. I'm at my wits' end - does anyone have an idea what I did wrong?

tyoden (original poster)

#2: Post by tyoden (original poster) »

I forgot to add that I also did a factory reset, but that didn't help. And in tutorial mode I can flush hot water from the hot water spout for a maximum of 60 secs (this is normal). All other pump related operations on the Oracle Touch are blocked until it reaches operating temperature (this is normal too). Everything works as expected except for the heating. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Note: Please ignore the white tissue in the pics, I stuffed it in the water funnel to prevent screws from accidentally falling in while working on the machine.






Malo819

#3: Post by Malo819 »

Hello there. Did you able to figure out and solve the issue? I had similar issue with my Dual Boiler BES900XL. The boiler configuration seems similar to mine. I found out that the Steam boiler is not heating up that's why temperature won't go above 160F.

tyoden (original poster)

#4: Post by tyoden (original poster) »

Hi Malo819
Apologies for not replying any sooner, I've been busy with too many other things in my life.

Short answer: No I couldn't make it work again. I tried a multitude of different approaches but then got fed up with wasting time, so in the end I just sent it in for repair.

Long answer:
I believe that my fiddling with the solenoid valve is unrelated to the problem, it may have been pure coincidence. Although the steam boiler was working when the issue first appeared, at some later point it stopped heating. I never laid hands on it as I suspected a problem with the solenoid valve and the group head boiler. I didn't expect the steam boiler to be the culprit, as the display always read "heating up" and the temperature slowly going up. Also when I probed the water temperature from the hot water spout, it was considerably higher than the displayed temperature, so this looked still right to me. Now how do you force water from the hot water spout? While heating up, the Oracle Touch (BES990) - as opposed to the Oracle (BES980) - blocks all operations except tutorial mode. Enter tutorial mode and you can test all functions including the spout. When I couldn't use the steam wand, I began to realize that something must be wrong with the steam boiler.

On a side note: There seems to be a general issue with descaling Breville coffee machines. Descaling apparently may leave residue on the boiler sensors, letting the machine think the boiler is already full. The boiler then heats up despite being empty, leading to overheating which then kills the thermal protection fuse.

I only descaled twice in the first year and there was no visible residue in the drained water. After that I never did it again as our tap water is very low in minerals.

I further consulted a user who is very knowledgable with Brevilles. He told me that the steam boiler either has a trapped air bubble or the thermal fuse has melted.

I then tried to clear a possible air lock in both boilers. When checking, the boilers always filled up and the drained water was hot. I also removed all sensors from both boilers and cleaned them, there was neglectable lime deposit and cleaning didn't change anything. At some point, the steam boiler stopped heating and the drained water came out cold. That's when I called it quits as I didn't want to go down any other rabbit holes. I prefer to pay for the repair and just get it done. My Oracle Touch is still undergoing repair, so I don't know yet what exactly caused the issue.

If it's the thermal fuse and you've got nothing to lose, then you could try and repair it (good luck):
Breville Oracle BES980XL Thermal Fuse Replacement/Detailed Disassembly

I also got this advice from Breville USA:
"First, make sure the steam wand lever is neutral and not pointed up at all and the water tank is locked in all the way. If you recently changed your water source to very soft water this could be the reason. Try using spring or tap water. There are a few processes to try if you have checked off the first two. If this is happening after descale it may have not finished properly or may have been interrupted. Please run the descale again (no descaler needed) and make sure you finished the process.
Next, turn the unit on as normal and let it heat up. Once it reaches to about 110-120 degrees, open both valves by loosening the boiler screws. It will release water, but should heat past 160. Once it goes above 160 close both valves.
Lastly, enter the descale mode. Once you hear the click open both valves. Unplug the unit and leave it sitting like this for several hours."

This didn't work for me, it never reached operating temperature. Also the Oracle Touch complains when the drain valves are open. This trick may work on other Brevilles, don't know if it works on the Touch. Hope this information helps someone else.

billgiannelli

#5: Post by billgiannelli »

Hello,
might you know the password to enter if you get to the "password" menu? (unplug press on button then plug in)
thanks
Bill

tyoden (original poster)

#6: Post by tyoden (original poster) »

Hi Bill
this is a list of passwords that did NOT work:
BES990
BES990BSS
BES990BTR
BES990XL
BSS990
990BSS
Breville

Note: BSS stands for the Stainless Steel model

I tried each password in the following three combinations: all CAPS, all lower case, only first letter upper case (i.e. BES990, bes990, Bes990)

There seems to be no limit on entering wrong passwords. Initially I suspected that some manufacturers might log failed attempts and lock the machine in order to pro-actively prevent tampering and then claim the warranty is forfeit. I don't know if any manufacturer really does that, it's just something you might want to consider if your machine is still under warranty.

I can't test right now, but this one I haven't tried yet and I highly suspect it is the right one:
BES990USC

Please let us know if that did it.

billgiannelli

#7: Post by billgiannelli »

No joy!
I tried
BES990USC
Bes990usc
bes990usc

No luck.
Bill

billgiannelli

#8: Post by billgiannelli »

Hi Tyoden,
With the Oracle touch it seems to me the dose from the grinder becomes less as the level of the beans become lower (due to less weight). Do you go to a slightly finer grind as the dose becomes less due to this?
I tend to fill the hopper with one batch of beans and want to finish it before filling it again with a different coffee.
thanks
Bill

tyoden (original poster)

#9: Post by tyoden (original poster) »

Dang! How about BES990BSS1BCA1 or BES990BSS1BUS1?
billgiannelli wrote:No joy!
I tried
BES990USC
Bes990usc
bes990usc

No luck.
Bill

tyoden (original poster)

#10: Post by tyoden (original poster) »

Hi Bill

I can't say that's the case with my machine. I do lower the grind setting by 1 every week to compensate for bean aging. Freshly roasted beans and two weeks old beans grind quite differently.

You may want to use a coffee scale to get consistent results. When changing coffee beans I always run a first test batch. Different beans grind differently, so there are two things to consider:
1. Grind setting: this depends on the beans and on their age, some beans taste better when ground coarse, some are at their best when finely ground
2. Tamper height: depending on how fine or coarse the grind is, the yield changes and hence the volume (tamper height) has to be adjusted

If you're new to the Oracle, then these videos might be helpful: http://www.youtube.com/c/CoffeeWiser/videos

Good luck!
billgiannelli wrote:Hi Tyoden,
With the Oracle touch it seems to me the dose from the grinder becomes less as the level of the beans become lower (due to less weight). Do you go to a slightly finer grind as the dose becomes less due to this?
I tend to fill the hopper with one batch of beans and want to finish it before filling it again with a different coffee.
thanks
Bill