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trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
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Discussions > Espresso > Espresso Mods > trouble with...  
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CRW
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 41
Location: PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Dec 5, 2012, 1:08am
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

ok so it's been a month since the last post. Since the problem is usually only when the machine has been on and left in active for awhile, I just make my coffee and don't leave it on. If I have to wait a little before the next cup, I just run a little water thru it and it seems to run ok w/o locking up. It usually never gives me trouble when it's cooled down. And if there WAS trouble, I could manually inject some water into the feed tube and kick start it into working. Well now it won't even take the water thru the tube. I can watch the water go about halfway thru the clear tube, but then it meets some kind of resistance, and backs up. This is with the steam wand either open or closed. Something is resisting the water to even go to the pump at all. What could that be? I guess I'm going to pull the pump all the way out and look at it, but I don't know what to look for. I'm wondering if the pump is starting to go bad. Over the time I've been having trouble, like the last month and a half or so, the pump's sounds have varied--sometimes really loud, sometimes a little "gargly", sometimes a little quieter. The steam wand valve is a little leaky too--when the steam button is "on", you can feel a little steam escaping even w/ the valve closed.
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dyqik
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Wed Dec 5, 2012, 9:43am
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

I think the pump could be failing - the symptom you describe would occur if the pump couldn't develop enough suction to pull water up to the inlet - although the feed tube should be full all the time once the pump is primed, as the pump should seal and prevent water running back down when the pump is off.  A failing inlet valve in the pump would cause that - it could be blocked from sealing with debris, and a good soak in cleaner/descaler might free it up, but it's probably easier to replace the pump.

this page although in French, might help you see what could be going wrong.  this might help as well.

You would also get the same problem if there is a leak in the pipes supplying the pump - it would now be too great to allow the pump to develop the vacuum required to pull water up to the pump.  This could be in the pipes themselves, the fitting to pass through the case or at the inlet to the pump.  I suspect it would be the latter if anything.  Again a new pump is the easiest solution there.
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CRW
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 41
Location: PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:03am
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

thanx for your reply. I don't think mine is an ULKA pump, I think the original is a different brand, but whatever, I'm going to read all that stuff.  I haven't pulled the pump out yet to look at it, but I want to have an idea what I'm looking at. I'm not afraid to try and work on stuff if I know what I'm look for/at. Another question related to the pump possibly going bad, is how loud is it really supposed to be when it's working properly? I got this machine used, it had been in storage for quite awhile, and I never descaled it or did much besides run some water thru it. But it's been really loud the whole time. Comparing it to videos isn't accurate I know, because of the difference in cameras, mic's, etc. But even when it's making a cup of coffee w/o failing, it's loud! Yeah I'd love to avoid buying a pump, but if need be, maybe that's the solution. I also know the steam wand valve leaks a little, both dripping a little at times inside the box, as well as letting a small amount of steam out of the wand when it's closed. How the various valves work together and affect each other and the operation of the machine, I'm not too clear on, as far as trouble shooting...
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dyqik
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:20am
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

I think the internals of the Gaggia OEM pump will be very similar to the ULKA diagram.  You can replace it with the cheaper ULKA pump (which is higher spec than the original...).  The pump sound can vary a lot, and it's particularly loud when not primed.  Under load the noise changes depending on the flow rate the pump is working at.
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CRW
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 41
Location: PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Dec 5, 2012, 1:16pm
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

how would I know which ULKA to replace the OEM with?
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CRW
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 41
Location: PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Dec 6, 2012, 12:41am
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

I pulled out the pump, and it is completely different from the UKLA in that you can't take it apart--there are no screws holding the guts into the body, it's all machined and crimped together. It's an Eaton brand pump, and according to the Partsguru page, has been replaced by the Invensys, which looks pretty much the same. I unscrewed the 90 degree brass fitting from the top (outlet side) and it appears to be totally clogged by something. I can't squirt water thru it, so that's definitely bad. I'm trying to soak it in vinegar and break down whatever is in there. I never descaled (oops, didn't read that part!) or extensively cleaned this machine, so I imagine there could be all sorts of build-up in the components. THat doesn't explain why it works sometimes, but it might explain why I can't even manually inject any water thru the pump now...

That page with the animation of the pump is pretty cool...
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dyqik
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Thu Dec 6, 2012, 9:34am
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

Scale can start failures by blocking the 3 way valve, overpressure valve and group valve, and preventing them from opening or closing properly (the moving parts get stuck in various positions, and this can be intermittant).  If you get the pump working, then you can use it to run descaler into the rest of the system and start cleaning thoroughly.  It can take a while with descaler though, and you have to use one that's compatible with the aluminum boiler in the Gaggia.  Often it's quicker to dismantle parts and clean and descale them separately.

Partsguru sell a generic ULKA pump that will work with the Gaggia on their parts page.
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CRW
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 41
Location: PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 2:42pm
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

I finally got a small opening thru the 90 degree fitting coming out of the pump,  water will run thru it, so my next step is a thorough descaling and as much cleaning as possible before considering any mechanical repairs for now...
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dorkroast
Senior Member
dorkroast
Joined: 3 Oct 2012
Posts: 88
Location: CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cheapo Melitta pourover
Roaster: Behmor, Popcorn Pumper
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 8:27pm
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

Glad to hear you found a possible cause of your problems. Being a Classic owner myself I'm always curious about how long this machine will last me before a major repair outpaces the cost of replacement.

Sounds like frequent descaling may  have prevented your problem. It lets me know I need to set up a descaling routine of some type and stick to it.

Hope you get it running again soon!
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CRW
Senior Member


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 41
Location: PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Dec 22, 2012, 11:09pm
Subject: Re: trouble with Gaggia Classic, and questions
 

well, I descaled it, and also backflushed it thoroughly, and the pump seems to be working Ok, and it makes coffee. I have noticed that the steam valve appears to leak pretty bad at times. Water leaks out from around the valve when I run just hot water through the wand, and when it's in steam mode, a small amount of steam will always leak from the wand even with the knob closed all the way. That could be the source of my troubles--i.e. the situation where air somehow leaks into the system and causes the pump to lock up. I might replace the steam valve shortly. Unless there's a way to repair the valve itself....
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