Worth repairing 10 year old Breville Barista Express?

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

#1: Post by Sacgurl »

Descaled then pulled the perfect shot two days ago. Now the pump is struggling and sounds like uh uh uh uh. Video shows pressure gage fluctuating. Thanks for taking the time to look.

JRising
Team HB

#2: Post by JRising »

Whether or not it's worth it is up to you. You can get a cheap vibe pump for $25, or a good 52W brass outlet one for less than $50. The pump-replacement and cleaning could be done in 2 hours or less, even if it's the first time. If you like the machine it might be worth it. If you'd rather replace the machine with something you've dreamed of having, it'd be easy to decide it's not worth it.

Sacgurl (original poster)

#3: Post by Sacgurl (original poster) »

Good advice, thanks

User avatar
HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

Sacgurl wrote:Descaled then pulled the perfect shot two days ago.
The pump is pressurizing, so the problem looks more like blockage. That sometimes happens when descaling breaks loose some scale and clogs it. I haven't repaired Brevilles, so hopefully someone with firsthand experience will chime in.

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Dan Kehn

Sacgurl (original poster)

#5: Post by Sacgurl (original poster) »

Great advice, thanks

WWWired

#6: Post by WWWired »

Hi Sacgurl :)

You have two of the absolute best coffee minds on the internet with JRising and HB providing great advice above! :)

To answer your first question, absolutely repairing a Breville Barista Express is "worth" it! haha! It's a brilliant machine. I've learned from JRising, HB and others here that a pump can begin to be assessed for health at around the 5000 extractions mark. If you've put in one extraction per day for 10 years, you've racked up 3,650 (or so) extractions on your fantastic high quality espresso machine. That indeed is approaching regular maintenance/replacement consideration territory. If you, like most of us other coffee lovers, can't stop at just one extraction per day, then even just 2 more extractions per week (on top of one per day) will put you in that 5000 extraction zone for pump question marks.

However, as HB mentioned, your pump looks healthy in the video, building resistance quickly, so some descale-debris blockage in your hydraulic pathway could be causing resistance to exceed your OPV set threshold, and this extra resistance might cause the OPV spring/seal to be overcome and shunt/dump the excess pressure/resistance/bar back into the water reservoir (which looks like a quick pressure drop on the gauge). The Hydraulic Pathway then builds resistance again quickly (your pump is working) and then again your OPV dumps the excess resistance/pressure back into the water reservoir . . . at which point this wash-rinse-repeat cycle develops the "uh uh uh" our Original Poster, Sacgurl, indicates. Many high quality espresso machine components, such as Pumps, are remarkably inexpensive in an Opportunity Cost economics scenario type of consideration, where the cost of replacing components (such as a pump or plastic OPV with a good quality Brass OPV, as mentioned by JRising above) is far cheaper than the cost of forgoing that incredible savings (and the fun of seeing what's inside these wonderful machines) in order to lay out another grand or two . . . or three for another espresso machine. Even cheaper than purchasing new components, however, is locating the cause of the increased resistance in the hydraulic pathway (a blockage somewhere, perhaps a bit of mineral scale in a one-way check valve or near the orifice of a solenoid for example) and cleaning it out. For anyone who enjoys a good detective show, this is the way to go for sure!

You'll have to locate the blockage in the hydraulic system (that is creating the increased resistance in the hydraulic pathway) and clean it out. It could be debris, or a chunk of mineral scale, as HB mentioned and it could be in the Pump, or a brass outlet as JRising indicated (OPV). Don't fall into the trap of thinking the pressure in one part of a hydraulic pathway is different than in another . . . the physics of fixed-volume-pressure-vessels (as are espresso machine hydraulics) means that resistance is identical in every part of the hydraulic system . . . from the pump to the group head, all exactly the same. So the cause of the excess resistance could be in a check valve, the OPV, a hose, a fitting, the orifice of the solenoid, the group head shower screen assembly. Eliminating these one by one will eventually get the culprit for the blockage causing the increased resistance.

Do you notice if this "uh uh uh" thing occurs without the portafilter in place?

I've heard of some people who run into mineral scale breaking free and causing blockages just doing several more descalings to continue to dissolve minerals etc . . . can anyone confirm this works?