Found water under heating element/boiler. Any reason why I shouldn't replace all seals?

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

#1: Post by _Ryan_ »

I pulled the covers off of my 2015 Vibiemme Domobar SBDU Piccolo and found a small amount of water under the element which is under the boiler (see schematic linked below).
Covers were removed for unrelated reason- was taking some measurements for an upcoming PID install.
I soaked up the water, noticed there was staining indicating this had happened before, checked all connections and sides of boiler and concluded that this is likely coming from the element gasket.
I didn't see any split hoses or drips and they wouldn't run to under the boiler, see schematic linked below

I was very careful with my next refill, ran the machine for a few days then popped the cover off again and was greeted by a smaller amount of water. The machine has been serviced by the shop I bought it from, the element was replaced approx. 18 months ago which I expect was a boiler out job.

Visibility is limited by the cramped environment. Further disassembly is required to find further evidence of leaks.

As it'll be a boiler out job to replace the element gasket and torque the element, which will also give me an opportunity to look for any other sources of leaks, I figured I'd replace other PTFE gaskets and replace the PTFE tape that has been used.

I've worked on cars plenty, but not espresso machines.

1- Is there any reason why I shouldn't replace all seals and re-torque prior to determining source of leaks?
2- Are there "workshop manuals" with torque specs for these units?
3- This model doesn't appear to have any pressure relief or anti-vac valves inside, are they present on all models?

For context, this is the push button rather than 2-way switch model that I have https://www.cafeparts.com/Espresso-Mach ... emid=18230

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Marmot

#2: Post by Marmot »

I would run the machine with the cover off to find the exact source of the leak. Since there is water on the bottom after you opened it it seems to be a larger leak or the water is leaking from an unheated part of the machine. If the leak is small water usually evaporates on the hot surface before collecting on the bottom.
I would first make sure to find the source of the leak before changing any gaskets. Mabye it is just the fitting of a pipe in which case it is enough to apply some teflon tape and retighten it.

_Ryan_ (original poster)

#3: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) » replying to Marmot »

I did a backflush with the casing off and didn't see anything. So it must be seeping.

It's a weird spot for water to accumulate, although if it's leaking from the element gasket there is no opportunity for it to evaporate and it would also align with where it is accumulating. I'll do another 'naked' backflush tonight while the machine is cool.

Is it generally considered good practice to proactively replace seals on these things as preventative maintenance or is it more of a "if it's not broken, don't fix it" kind of system?

Marmot

#4: Post by Marmot »

I usually don't change gaskets on the boiler unless I'm going to fully disassemble and descale it anyway. The gaskets on the E61 group though should be changed after some time with heavy use.
I would let the machine fully heat up since it seems the leak does not occur in cool state. Am I right in assuming the gasket on the heating element is made from teflon? It looks like a thick piece of white plastic, not like silicone. I have. quick Mill La Certa which is practically the same machine inside. I had to reposition the gasket a little and then screw the hetaing element tight to get it sealed. The good thing with those teflon gaskets is that you don't always have to change them. Just reposition them and retighten. They adapt their shape a little.

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BaristaBoy E61

#5: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I was faced with this dilemma, if your situation is similar I would just suggest changing the boiler heating element gasket for the proper sized Teflon gasket and see where you're at after that. Chances are that's all that has to be done.

I would not remove the boiler, just unscrew the heater element with the boiler in place with a sufficiently powerful impact wrench. Wrench 'ON' time should only require about 2 to 3-seconds for each maneuver.

Attached are some pics from our situation.

1st pic is water on counter that only happened when boiler was cold and metal contracted. 2nd pic of the brew boiler heating element with but a tiny droplet of water that took a long time to detect (~10- o'clock position).

Last pic is of a water leak detector with automatic water cutoff that all direct plumbed machines should have IMO.















"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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JohnB.
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#6: Post by JohnB. »

_Ryan_ wrote:Is it generally considered good practice to proactively replace seals on these things as preventative maintenance or is it more of a "if it's not broken, don't fix it" kind of system?
If it isn't leaking & you have no reason to remove a part I wouldn't replace the gasket or seal for "preventive maintenance" as you may cause a problem that you didn't have before. If you determine that the element gasket is the source of the leak I'd try tightening the element an 8th or 1/4 turn & see if that solves the problem before replacing a fairly new gasket.
LMWDP 267

_Ryan_ (original poster)

#7: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) »

Marmot wrote:I usually don't change gaskets on the boiler unless I'm going to fully disassemble and descale it anyway. The gaskets on the E61 group though should be changed after some time with heavy use.
I would let the machine fully heat up since it seems the leak does not occur in cool state. Am I right in assuming the gasket on the heating element is made from teflon? It looks like a thick piece of white plastic, not like silicone. I have. quick Mill La Certa which is practically the same machine inside. I had to reposition the gasket a little and then screw the hetaing element tight to get it sealed. The good thing with those teflon gaskets is that you don't always have to change them. Just reposition them and retighten. They adapt their shape a little.
Yes, It's teflon. For the sake of $6 I ordered a gasket. Cheaper than my time to do the work. :oops:

I'll take a look at servicing the group once this is resolved, thanks.

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_Ryan_ (original poster)

#8: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote:I was faced with this dilemma, if you situation is similar I would just suggest changing the boiler heating element gasket for the proper sized Teflon gasket and see where you're at after that. Chances are that's all that has to be done.

I would not remove the boiler, just unscrew the heater element with the boiler in place with a sufficiently powerful impact wrench. Wrench 'ON' time should only require about 2 to 3-seconds for each maneuver.

Attached are some pics from our situation.

1st pic is water on counter that only happened when boiler was cold and metal contracted. 2nd pic of the brew boiler heating element with but a tiny droplet of water that took a long time to detect (~10- o'clock position).

Last pic is of a water leak detector with automatic water cutoff that all direct plumbed machines should have IMO.
Unfortunately accessing the element is a boiler out job, see the design here - https://www.cafeparts.com/Espresso-Mach ... emid=18230

_Ryan_ (original poster)

#9: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) »

Looks to be the braided hose that runs from the OPV to the water inlet. The hose side of the fitting. I saw a tiny seep when doing leak checks after fitting the PID.

Updating just incase anyone searches and needs a reason so as not to do an overhaul. The way things are sealed in these machines I'd be very hesitant to touch seals that aren't leaking.