steam leaking from the lid
steam is escaping from the lid
Mine is doing this, but I think the problem is that I made a few stupid errors: #1 I did not pay attention to hard water deposits--cleaning them out regularly. Instead, I didn't do it for the entire time I've had it. Needless to say, those deposits have been forming for years. I've had my little machine for soooo many years (mine was made in Switzerland, if that gives you an idea--I think I've had it for over 25 years).
When I finally did think to check it with a flashlight, I was horrified to see the large accumulation of mineral deposits.
Lesson: I'm going to be using distilled water from now on (unless filtered water is also free from minerals) and I will be checking the inside area regularly with a flashlight.
Error #2: I soaked the boiler area with a strong solution of vinegar to break up the deposits. It worked. It didn't get all of it out, but it got a lot out. So I settled for that--but in hindsight I think I should have bought an actual coffeepot cleaning solution.
Error #3: I didn't stop to think what would happen to those leftover deposits. They flaked away and headed up the equipment to the area that sprays water onto the coffee grounds. The area that is behind the wee tiny holes.
I'm fairly certain that there are enough deposit flakes/chunks in there that they're blocking the tiny holes so that the boiling water can't flow through to the coffee grounds; consequently the pressurized steam is finding any escape holes it can find--in my case it's escaping above the coffee grounds holder.
We tried to remove the screw holding that plate in place, but I guess the years have caused the metal to become soft and the threads completely stuck--instead of unscrewing, it stripped.
I've since gotten a backup machine, but I'll be taking mine in to a proper repair person as soon as I can find one--someone who can probably cut off the darn screw, remove the plate and then work magic on getting the rest of the hard water deposits out and then putting it all back together (yes, I love my machine so it's worth this trouble).
Bottom line, my machine is failing due to operator error, not machine error. I have reassured it that as soon as I get it fixed, it will take its proper place at the front of my counter for coffee. :~)
As mentioned above, the typical cause is the silicone washer, normally in the top inside of the lid, has fallen off and likely inside the water chamber. Retrieve, and return to the underside of the lid, that’s what fixed my problem and now no leaks.
You may also find a second smaller problem, as I did, where a portion of the silicone O-ring that sits at the base of the threads, just visible under the top plastic of the espresso machine, was pushed under the lid. This O-ring keeps excess water on the top of the espresso machine from going inside where the electrical components are at. Instructions here to address that problem: https://www.ifixit.com/Patrol/Guide/3191...
First verify that there is a translucent rubbery gasket in the lid. It should fit snugly up in the lid. It should be smooth and not distorted in any way.
If the gasket is OK, then you just need to screw the cap on more firmly. I has to be very tight in order to contain the pressure necessary to make the espresso.
Did that work?
I'll post a detailed answer for people looking into this issue in coming years, because all home steam espresso machines work on the same principal, the machine creates stream in a small boiler, which is used to make the coffee and for milk frothing.
Anyway, steam emitting from the lid or cap can be caused by a number of things. Keep in mind that this system relies on pressure to make the espresso. So this is not good, steam escaping from the cap. It indicates that some of the pressure in the tank is leaking through the cap, that degrades the quality of the final product, and is a safety hazard. (Steam burns are painful and can scar.)
Note: the actual fix is NOT complicated. It is basic mechanics so the fixes are simple. (Think of this as similar to a bottle of Coke with a screw cap. The espresso machine's cap to the water tank functions as simply as the cap seals in carbonation to a bottle of coke. )
Things to Check
- Is there a gasket or "rubber washer" on the inside of the metal cap (lid)? This is similar in function and location as the Coke bottle cap. The gasket is replaceable and can be removed. But it can also fall out and be lost.
The good thing is that if missing the gasket can be replaced. The downside, it can slip off for whatever reason and be misplaced. (For example, when unscrewing the cap the rubber gasket could stick to the tank lip. Someone might have moved the machine and the gasket fell off the machine and on to the floor. My dog sees that gasket, he's rat holeing it inside his hideout and chewing it, may even eat it. It can also be worn or corroded.
- So, is the gasket there? If you look inside the cap and see bare metal instead of a round gasket, it is gone. (You can buy a gasket. And if you are willing to experiment, you might be able to use a spare parts gasket as a temp or permanent fix.)
Check its condition too. If it is cracked or worn, it will need to be replaced.
- If the gasket is there, another problem is not properly seating the cap's threads with the water tank threads to where it does not fully close. I counted. It takes about six half twists to fully close the cap, or one and one-half full spins of a clock to close it.
Note: It is easy with these wide threads to incorrectly seat the cap. So make sure it is properly seated.
- Of course, make sure there's no debris on the inside of the cap. Seems hard to do, but check anyway.
- Lastly, as others have said, don't just screw the cap until it stops moving. Once it feels seated give it a final twist to seat the rubber gasket in the cap into the tank lip. That gasket is there for a reason, to form a tight seal because the tank is a pressure system, that uses it to force the water through the tightly packed espresso grind coffee grounds.
Because of this process the water tank's cap is quite beefy and has to be fully seated. If things are not perfectly sealed at the cap, pressure (steam) will escape through it.
- Note: If steam comes out, put a towel over the cap (so you don't scald yourself) and give the cap another twist. See if that stops the steam escaping. If it does, that indicates you are not fully tightening the cap.
I observed mineral deposits on the gasket at the bottom of the thread, after cleaning did not help with steam escaping.
I disassembled the lid and there is a pressure escape valve in the lid where I tried to re-extend the spring to no affect.
The one fix where I only have 1 test so far with only light tightening on the lid and no steam, was cleaning the holes in the metal filter basket. I held up to the light and noticed a lot of them were plugged. I scrubbed both sides of the filter and significantly opened up more of the holes (hold up to light to look through). I used a small amount of LCR lime remover on the filter basket and lots of rinsing. Smooth coffee brewing without steam!!!
The coffee grounds and metal holes together cause a high back pressure in the boiler compartment, which tries to escape through the safety valve in the lid
I have also had mine for over 20 years and I had this problem a while ago. I also had the problem with blockages of the small holes (and the milk frothing pipe) and found that repeated de-scaling - 5 to 10 times over a day with time to soak eventually cleared it.
All the answers above are good and I have made sure to look after the gasket, tighten the cap and de-scale the machine at least annually.
However, today I found a new problem - as mentioned above there's a pressure relief valve built into the cap, for safety. Age seems to have taken its toll on the plastic of the cap and the plastic rim that holds the spring assembly in place has fractured and the valve has fallen out. I didn't notice this at first because the break is clean and nothing looks out of place, but I looked inside the boiler and saw the parts of the valve sitting there, which was something of a clue ! I'm currently searching online for a replacement cap, but no luck yet - so does anyone know a good website for this?