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Squirting from bottom of PF
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Squirting from...  
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shamblesuk
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 19
Location: London
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Selecta Deluze
Grinder: Dualit
Posted Fri Apr 25, 2014, 10:44am
Subject: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

Hi folks, looking for some help with a baffling problem.

Set up is Gaggia Classic, 5 years old, well maintained. Recently (don't recall when) I started to notice a thin line of espresso (sometimes more than one) squirting from somewhere in the PF basket on pulling a shot. It's not from the gasket or top of the PF, and when using a naked PF it's coming straight through one of the holes in the basket (and not the same one each time).

Using a normal PF (which obviously has a single hole in the basket), similar problem happens, but this time from where the PF meets the machine body. Again, not in the same place each time.

Only workaround is horrifically having to use the crema device, which stops the problem.

Have tried various different tamp pressures and grinds, which I thought was the obvious problem - but same problem each time. Also took off the screen, good clean, and cleaned out the holes in the screen holding plate. End result is a weak, thin extraction on both naked and (clothed?) PF.

Could it be the gasket?

Thoughts?
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Whitcoatsyndrom
Senior Member
Whitcoatsyndrom
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 165
Location: Roanoke, VA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco-OCS 12
Roaster: HG/BM
Posted Fri Apr 25, 2014, 2:19pm
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

shamblesuk Said:

It's not from the gasket or top of the PF, and when using a naked PF it's coming straight through one of the holes in the basket (and not the same one each time).

Posted April 25, 2014 link

This sounds like channeling due to poor grind distribution when dosing, improper tamping, improper grinder/grind setting (too coarse or fine), or too much/too little of a dose.  Can you elaborate on any of those options (tell us how you dose into the PF, what type of grinder you use, age of your beans from roast-date, and how much you dose along with the type/size of PF basket you use).

Using a normal PF (which obviously has a single hole in the basket), similar problem happens, but this time from where the PF meets the machine body. Again, not in the same place each time.

This really sounds like dried out gasket, as you already suspected.  If you've had the machine for 5 years and never replaced it...it's definitely time to do so.  Changing gaskets isn't a repair, per se, it's just machine maintenance that should be done yearly (some do it more, some do it less, some wait for it to crack and start spurting).  It's an easy gasket to replace and they are cheap.  

Only workaround is horrifically having to use the crema device, which stops the problem.

This last statement is really interesting, and at odds with what I would think the outcome would be during the "crema device" use (which essentially turns your portafilter into a pressurized portafilter).  I'm surprised that there is not more spurting where the PF contacts the group-gasket.  Still, I would think you have a dried out gasket...it's time to replace it anyway if it's been that long so you wouldn't be doing anything wrong by putting a new one on.  

A question specific to your machine:  Have you adjusted the over pressure valve (OPV) down to 9 bar?  Gaggia Classics come set at a much higher pressure (12 to 14 or something) that is meant for use with the crema device basket (which is garbage, as you already stated!)

Good call on cleaning the screen, that's easily the cause of a problem.  Did you also clean the holes of your PF basket?  If you are getting spurts from the basket itself on your bottomless, partially clogged holes in the basket could be the problem but I'm still more inclined to think it's a bean age/grind setting or grinder/dosage/distribution problem(s).  

So to answer your question...yes, it could be the gasket, I would replace it.  Tell us about your grinder, dosing, and bean age.  Good luck!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,950
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Apr 25, 2014, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

Yeah, please answer Brett's questions.  It does sound like your group gasket is bad. Though some of what you describe sounds like channeling, as he suggested.  However, if this gasket is 5 years old, it's not going to be an easy maintenance fix (though it should).  After 5 years, the gasket loses pliability and sticks to the group.  Give yourself at least an hour to tackle this task, as it will likely take you that long to get it all off, maybe longer.  If you have kids, tell them to go play outside, so they don't hear all the cursing you're going to utter as you scrape off all the caked on bits of rubber from the group. Then you'll know why people change theirs frequently.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Whitcoatsyndrom
Senior Member
Whitcoatsyndrom
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 165
Location: Roanoke, VA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco-OCS 12
Roaster: HG/BM
Posted Fri Apr 25, 2014, 2:57pm
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

emradguy Said:

However, if this gasket is 5 years old, it's not going to be an easy maintenance fix (though it should).  After 5 years, the gasket loses pliability and sticks to the group.

Posted April 25, 2014 link

I definitely should have mentioned that...they become become a pain when stuck on there.  Better to replace them before they go bad for just that reason.  I just replaced a 7+ year old gasket on a used machine and it took forever.  If you can't easily get it out there a quite a few "tips and tricks" tutorials on removing it.
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shamblesuk
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 19
Location: London
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Selecta Deluze
Grinder: Dualit
Posted Sat Apr 26, 2014, 2:23am
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

This sounds like channeling due to poor grind distribution when dosing, improper tamping, improper grinder/grind setting (too coarse or fine), or too much/too little of a dose.  Can you elaborate on any of those options (tell us how you dose into the PF, what type of grinder you use, age of your beans from roast-date, and how much you dose along with the type/size of PF basket you use).

I normally dose 14g in the large basket, grinder is a Dualit burr grinder, setting normally one or two off finest, beans from Waitrose so not sure about age. Normally dosed from the plastic box into the basket, do half of it, tamp lightly, do the rest, level, tap NSEW, final spin.

This really sounds like dried out gasket, as you already suspected.  If you've had the machine for 5 years and never replaced it...it's definitely time to do so.  Changing gaskets isn't a repair, per se, it's just machine maintenance that should be done yearly (some do it more, some do it less, some wait for it to crack and start spurting).  It's an easy gasket to replace and they are cheap.  

I have taken the gasket off, it is rock solid (is that a bad thing?). Have ordered replacement.

This last statement is really interesting, and at odds with what I would think the outcome would be during the "crema device" use (which essentially turns your portafilter into a pressurized portafilter).  I'm surprised that there is not more spurting where the PF contacts the group-gasket.  Still, I would think you have a dried out gasket...it's time to replace it anyway if it's been that long so you wouldn't be doing anything wrong by putting a new one on.  

A question specific to your machine:  Have you adjusted the over pressure valve (OPV) down to 9 bar?  Gaggia Classics come set at a much higher pressure (12 to 14 or something) that is meant for use with the crema device basket (which is garbage, as you already stated!)

No I haven't done this, so will research how to do it.

Good call on cleaning the screen, that's easily the cause of a problem.  Did you also clean the holes of your PF basket?  If you are getting spurts from the basket itself on your bottomless, partially clogged holes in the basket could be the problem but I'm still more inclined to think it's a bean age/grind setting or grinder/dosage/distribution problem(s).  

Yes, all the holes are clear.
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Whitcoatsyndrom
Senior Member
Whitcoatsyndrom
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 165
Location: Roanoke, VA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco-OCS 12
Roaster: HG/BM
Posted Sat Apr 26, 2014, 8:53am
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

I normally dose 14g in the large basket, grinder is a Dualit burr grinder, setting normally one or two off finest, beans from Waitrose so not sure about age. Normally dosed from the plastic box into the basket, do half of it, tamp lightly, do the rest, level, tap NSEW, final spin.

I had a Gaggia Classic and I think my dose was more along the lines of 16 to 17 g.  It really depends on how you are grinding your beans so 14g may be the right amount for your setup.  There are pages and pages of threads devoted to "how much coffee to dose?" so we don't need to get into those details.  

So before the messages start up regarding the quality of your grinder, please keep in mind that coffee is a food product.  Thus if you are happy with the flavor of what comes out of your machine and aren't interested in other options, don't worry about it.  If the Dualit can grind fine enough, you may be able to avoid the spurts that result from too coarse of a setting, clearly your dried up gasket is also a culprit here so I'm glad you're changing that out.  However, just because the grinder can go fine enough does not mean it is consistent in the grind size.  Espresso grinding is more about consistency of the grind particles.  For an extreme example--if I hold the button down on a blade grinder for a minute I'll get really fine powder...but all those particles will be of drastically different size and shape despite all being relatively small.  We need consistency from our grinders!  The other thing with the Dualit is that it only has 10 grind settings (I believe it is a re-badged Solis grinder, who also made some of the Starbucks grinders).  I know their website says it is plenty for "all your coffee needs" but that's just not the case, sorry. One of the entry level stepped grinders (minimum necessary for espresso by the standards of this forum) is the Baratza Preciso, which has 440 steps to put it in perspective...the Dualit has 10.  Stepless espresso grinders have an infinate amount of settings because it is a continuous adjustment (an entry level stepless grinder would be the Lelit PL53).  Consistency aside, the relatively big jumps on the Dualit will make it difficult, or near impossible to get the correct grind setting.  Grind needs to be changed as beans age, and the inability to do so correctly with your grinder could be the source of your squirting.  This isn't meant to be snooty and I hope it's not condescending in any way...but the glass ceiling on quality is low with only 10 steps to choose from.  The crema-device (pressurized) basket is more forgiving on grind size/distribution so that's why it's helping you avoid the spurts.  As you've already mentioned though, there is a trade off with quality in the cup (a big one).  If you're interested in what your options are with capable grinders, we can talk about that too but I would start with a good search on the "grinders" section of the forum.  The grinder is more important than the espresso machine.  

I can't find anything with regards to the freshness of Witrose beans.  That usually means they are not fresh enough but without more info we can't say for sure.  Companies that get fresh beans to their consumers are usually pretty quick to advertise that fact.  Freshness plays a big role in one's ability to pull a good shot (varying definitions on what fresh is...but generally nothing more than 2 to 3 weeks after roasting).

I have taken the gasket off, it is rock solid (is that a bad thing?). Have ordered replacement.

 

Yup, rock solid = bad.  A new one will certainly help you.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,950
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Apr 26, 2014, 1:50pm
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

Waitrose is like Albertson's or any other generic grocery store, so those beans are hopeless.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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shamblesuk
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 19
Location: London
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Selecta Deluze
Grinder: Dualit
Posted Sun Apr 27, 2014, 2:01am
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

Just as an aside this is the 3rd machine I have owned. The first gaggia pump failed after 2 years and I then moved to a dualit. Never experienced this problem on any of these machine ever. Current machine is an eBay purchase so I can't vouch for how the previous owners maintained it.

So all the comment about coffee quality and grind etc are valid, however I do believe technically I'm doing the right stuff and this trying to work out what it is about the machine that seems to be causing the issue.
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shamblesuk
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 19
Location: London
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Selecta Deluze
Grinder: Dualit
Posted Mon Apr 28, 2014, 10:03am
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

So I've changed the gasket and no improvement. I will try and get a video of the process I go through from grinding to pulling, and see if that helps you kind people.


Thanks for all the help and suggestions so far.
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Whitcoatsyndrom
Senior Member
Whitcoatsyndrom
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 165
Location: Roanoke, VA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco-OCS 12
Roaster: HG/BM
Posted Mon Apr 28, 2014, 5:55pm
Subject: Re: Squirting from bottom of PF
 

shamblesuk Said:

So I've changed the gasket and no improvement. I will try and get a video of the process I go through from grinding to pulling, and see if that helps you kind people.


Thanks for all the help and suggestions so far.

Posted April 28, 2014 link

Sorry to hear that!  These things can get frustrating quickly.

I know you don't want to hear this...but since you've changed the gasket I really doubt it's your machine.  I say that not because I am 100% confident that you're machine is fine (obviously that couldn't be the case), but because I am 100% confident that your beans are stale and that your grinder can't perform at the espresso level.  Ron (emradguy) claimed that your beans are hopeless...You're going to drive yourself crazy trying to fix the machine when it's not the machine's fault (probably not, at least).  Stale beans aren't like a bag of potato chips (crisps?) that lose their crunch when they go bad; stale beans affect every factor involved in pulling a shot.  I know you've owned a few machines so I'm worried I'm insulting you, but really--it's most likely your beans and your grinder.

There are a bunch of in depth articles available for details on everything from beans to machines.  I'm happy to send one your way if your interested.  Regardless, good luck to you!

Oh yeah--a video always helps :-)
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