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PL41QE - Group Head Leak, 15-18s Pulls
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fanopants
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Joined: 4 Oct 2012
Posts: 2
Location: CA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Oct 4, 2012, 4:07pm
Subject: PL41QE - Group Head Leak, 15-18s Pulls
 

I purchased my first espresso machine with grinder almost two years ago with significant advice obtained from this very forum. I went with the Lelit PL41QE and a Baratza Vario and have had a positive experience with both. In the past few months, however, I've had some issues with my Lelit. First, pull time for a double shot is 15-18s. I've tried different dosages (14g-18g) and moderately different grind settings and have been unable to rectify this. I thought that perhaps my tamping technique was off and ran a few experiments; with a heavy tamp, the machine would leak from the sides of the grouphead. The leaks are espresso, not water, which I gather from another thread here is a sign that the gasket is NOT an issue. Further, the leak appears to be getting worse; while it happened sporadically in the past, it happens more often than not now. I use freshly roasted beans (not TOO freshly roasted, within 1-3 weeks typically) from various roasters.

Any ideas as to what could be going wrong? What other information have I neglected to provide? Thanks!
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qualin
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qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 654
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Thu Oct 4, 2012, 10:45pm
Subject: Re: PL41QE - Group Head Leak, 15-18s Pulls
 

Perhaps it would help if you were able to take a video of this happening?

As well, what happens if you try to backflush with a backflushing disk or a blind basket?

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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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 Fri Oct 5, 2012, 6:44am
Subject: Re: PL41QE - Group Head Leak, 15-18s Pulls
 

Espresso leaking around the side of the portafilter is a sign that the filter isn't sealing against the group gasket properly.  The maximum life of a gasket is usually only a year, so I suspect yours needs replacing, particularly if it's getting worse recently.  Unless you mean the leak is further up the group, in which case it's probably a seal further up the group.  I don't know enough to

On the shot time, I suspect that you aren't grinding fine enough yet.  Some Varios need adjusting to go fine enough for espresso.  Even with very coarse grounds, the shot time won't be much shorter than 10s, because of the flow rate and pressure rise on the vibe pump.  There's a big range with my Gaggia that will give 15-18s after a hard tamp - maybe 4-5 out of the 40 coarse settings on my Preciso.  A little finer than that, and the shots start getting into the right 25-30s range, but there's only a small range that is really good here (maybe 3 micro-settings).

You won't be able to build enough pressure with a leaky gasket to get a 25s shot, so that's the first thing to fix.
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fanopants
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Joined: 4 Oct 2012
Posts: 2
Location: CA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 4:32pm
Subject: Re: PL41QE - Group Head Leak, 15-18s Pulls
 

dyqik Said:

Espresso leaking around the side of the portafilter is a sign that the filter isn't sealing against the group gasket properly.  The maximum life of a gasket is usually only a year, so I suspect yours needs replacing, particularly if it's getting worse recently.  Unless you mean the leak is further up the group, in which case it's probably a seal further up the group.  I don't know enough to

On the shot time, I suspect that you aren't grinding fine enough yet.  Some Varios need adjusting to go fine enough for espresso.  Even with very coarse grounds, the shot time won't be much shorter than 10s, because of the flow rate and pressure rise on the vibe pump.  There's a big range with my Gaggia that will give 15-18s after a hard tamp - maybe 4-5 out of the 40 coarse settings on my Preciso.  A little finer than that, and the shots start getting into the right 25-30s range, but there's only a small range that is really good here (maybe 3 micro-settings).

You won't be able to build enough pressure with a leaky gasket to get a 25s shot, so that's the first thing to fix.

Posted October 5, 2012 link

Thanks for the help! A new gasket will be here on Monday, hopefully that does the trick!

Re: grind -- I've been grinding as fine as a Vario grinds. I'm grinding at about 1.47g/sec which, according to Baratza support, is finer than the machine's quoted output. I'll revisit my grind settings when the gasket arrives. I didn't document my first year or so of use with the machine, then the machine fell into disuse during relocation, and only in the past 6 months or so have I really tried to dial it in to no avail. But now...A GASKET!

Again, BIG THANKS to qualin and dyqik for the input. I'll report back next week with an update.
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