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Thread: Breville BES820: Steam/Water selector issue

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Breville BES820: Steam/Water selector issue

    Hi all,

    About 6 months abo, I purchased a BES820 espresso machine and a BCG450 BarAroma grinder (both made by Breville) second-hand (the seller told me that both are about 3-4 years old).

    The grinder didn't have the mod applied to it, and subsequently ground too coarsely for espresso. After the mod, it was finer, but still to inconsistent for espresso, so I bought a BCG800 SmartGrinder and never looked back!

    The machine worked fine now and once I figured out how to grind, dose and tamp properly, I was pulling great shots. However, about two weeks ago, I was texturing some milk and when I returned the steam selector to the neutral position, I could still hear the pump doing it's thump-thump-thump thing. I had to turn off the power for it to go away and when I turned the power back on, the two lights in front (the steam and hot water lights) started blinking.

    I checked the manual and apparently, this happens when the selector dial on the right is not in neutral (i.e. ready to pull espresso, rather than steam milk or dispense hot water). Unfortunately, the problem persists even in the most neutral of neutral settings. I've tried leaving it on for ages, turning it off and on, all to no avail.

    Any ideas?

    Edit: Made a little video of the issue here (and am thinking of selling the thing for parts):
    Last edited by gautsch; 2nd June 2013 at 06:12 PM. Reason: added YouTube video

  2. #2
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    when you turn the knob to the steam side, can you hear the small clicking noise it usually makes? from the video, it doesn't seem to be clicking as the hot water side does. based on this, and the fault symptoms, it sounds like the steam switch has remained shut when the knob has been returned to neutral.
    the machine thinks the steam section is open when the knob is in the neutral position which doesn't allow any water to flow. this would then cause an error as the machine doesn't know what's going on and just doesn't operate.

    i'd just remove the top casing and check the steam switch to see what condition it is in, you'll be able to see fairly easily if it's got any problems. it is also simple to remove. if it does have a problem, you can disassemble the switch and clean it up, but if there's visible arc damage or melting near the switch contacts, just replace it.

    the BES820 is easy to disassemble and reassemble so there's no real loss from having a go at it.
    gautsch likes this.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    when you turn the knob to the steam side, can you hear the small clicking noise it usually makes? from the video, it doesn't seem to be clicking as the hot water side does. based on this, and the fault symptoms, it sounds like the steam switch has remained shut when the knob has been returned to neutral.
    the machine thinks the steam section is open when the knob is in the neutral position which doesn't allow any water to flow. this would then cause an error as the machine doesn't know what's going on and just doesn't operate.

    i'd just remove the top casing and check the steam switch to see what condition it is in, you'll be able to see fairly easily if it's got any problems. it is also simple to remove. if it does have a problem, you can disassemble the switch and clean it up, but if there's visible arc damage or melting near the switch contacts, just replace it.

    the BES820 is easy to disassemble and reassemble so there's no real loss from having a go at it.
    No, it doesn't make that noise when switched to steam, so that sounds right. I don't have a Torx screwdriver, so I might just go to Bunnings and pick one up. Thanks for the tip!

  4. #4
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    Well, that was easy. Popped the top, tightened a couple of screws and all is well again. Thanks!
    rawill likes this.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by gautsch View Post
    Well, that was easy. Popped the top, tightened a couple of screws and all is well again. Thanks!
    How did you get the top off? I can't get to the screws inside the machine to get the top plate off. I took the back off but cannot for the life of me see how I get to the screws at the front of the machine.

    We don't have any steam coming out of the steam wand, but when I take the wand off it seems to be pumping out a decent amount of steam. Likewise, there's no water coming out the other side when we select water. When we turn it off, the steam pumps out of the brewing group head to release the pressure. It's just started doing this in the last few days after a good solid 2 years. I need my morning coffee!

    Any help would be great!

    Cheers!
    BR
    Last edited by boylerroom; 13th June 2013 at 07:09 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by boylerroom View Post
    How did you get the top off? I can't get to the screws inside the machine to get the top plate off. I took the back off but cannot for the life of me see how I get to the screws at the front of the machine.

    We don't have any steam coming out of the steam wand, but when I take the wand off it seems to be pumping out a decent amount of steam. Likewise, there's no water coming out the other side when we select water. When we turn it off, the steam pumps out of the brewing group head to release the pressure. It's just started doing this in the last few days after a good solid 2 years. I need my morning coffee!

    Any help would be great!

    Cheers!
    BR
    there's no screws holding the top on, it's just locking tabs. with the back off the machine, grab both sides with your hands and position your thumbs on the back edge of the top. give it a firm push forwards and you'll feel it slide. then lift the top up from the front and it'll come off.

    with the wand off and pumping steam, i'd check for built up milk residue inside the steam tip. the initial pump pressure isn't strong enough to get past solidified milk sometimes.
    as for having no hot water, if it sounds like it's pumping but nothing comes out and no water is escaping elsewhere, check for blockages in the hot water wand and tube. if nothing there, take out the steam/hot water block and check it for scale buildup as it usually gets in there. also take apart the selector switch as it has very small holes in it which can also become clogged. it is a little fiddly but as long as you take care when doing it you should get it back together ok.

    when turned off, it shouldn't pump out of the group head to release pressure, it should come out of the drip tray area. this indicates a faulty solenoid valve, either non-functional or not switching properly. check it too for any contamination and check the wiring, make sure it's ok.
    boylerroom likes this.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    there's no screws holding the top on, it's just locking tabs. with the back off the machine, grab both sides with your hands and position your thumbs on the back edge of the top. give it a firm push forwards and you'll feel it slide. then lift the top up from the front and it'll come off.

    with the wand off and pumping steam, i'd check for built up milk residue inside the steam tip. the initial pump pressure isn't strong enough to get past solidified milk sometimes.
    as for having no hot water, if it sounds like it's pumping but nothing comes out and no water is escaping elsewhere, check for blockages in the hot water wand and tube. if nothing there, take out the steam/hot water block and check it for scale buildup as it usually gets in there. also take apart the selector switch as it has very small holes in it which can also become clogged. it is a little fiddly but as long as you take care when doing it you should get it back together ok.

    when turned off, it shouldn't pump out of the group head to release pressure, it should come out of the drip tray area. this indicates a faulty solenoid valve, either non-functional or not switching properly. check it too for any contamination and check the wiring, make sure it's ok.
    Thank you so much for the tip! It quite literally popped right off, as gautsch said it did! Why didn't I think of that?!? Also, thanks for the tips on where to look. I've just taken to top off, so I'll let you know how I go. (Sorry... didn't mean to hi-jack the thread either)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    there's no screws holding the top on, it's just locking tabs. with the back off the machine, grab both sides with your hands and position your thumbs on the back edge of the top. give it a firm push forwards and you'll feel it slide. then lift the top up from the front and it'll come off.

    with the wand off and pumping steam, i'd check for built up milk residue inside the steam tip. the initial pump pressure isn't strong enough to get past solidified milk sometimes.
    as for having no hot water, if it sounds like it's pumping but nothing comes out and no water is escaping elsewhere, check for blockages in the hot water wand and tube. if nothing there, take out the steam/hot water block and check it for scale buildup as it usually gets in there. also take apart the selector switch as it has very small holes in it which can also become clogged. it is a little fiddly but as long as you take care when doing it you should get it back together ok.

    when turned off, it shouldn't pump out of the group head to release pressure, it should come out of the drip tray area. this indicates a faulty solenoid valve, either non-functional or not switching properly. check it too for any contamination and check the wiring, make sure it's ok.
    Ok, so I've finally got back to working on this thing. I've been busy with exams and assignments. I have undone all the screws I can see to get the selector switch off but I can't see how to actually get the switch itself off so I can take the block out and clean it. Sorry for the noob style questions, but any tips?

  9. #9
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    So I'm clearly blind!! I just realised the safety assembly has a busted connection. Just had a quick look on Big Warehouse for parts. Looks like I need an entire assembly. Not sure I can see how to get that broken connector out. Any thoughts? I'd much rather spend $30 on a new line and connector than $85 on the entire assembly.

    IMGP7286.jpg
    rawill likes this.

  10. #10
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    man that's unlucky, the same thing happened to my machine but happened when i was starting to steam. when you buy the complete solenoid assembly from bigwarehouse you'll get metal connectors instead of the plastic ones, much more reliable.

    if you do want to get the connector out, get two sharp spikes or just something sharp you can stick into the top of the broken thread (needle-nose wire cutters with sharp tips can work) and slowly twist it out. as long as you're gentle it should come loose then can be unscrewed.

  11. #11
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    Cheers. You think it's worth spending the extra for the metal connectors?

  12. #12
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    yes, if you plan on using the machine for a few more years. if you're considering an upgrade anytime soon then perhaps it would be better to just get a plastic connector. it'd probably be a good idea to replace the other one too, but then again that brings the cost up. overall i think it just depends on how much longer you foresee using the machine for.

    perhaps if you were considering using the machine for a while longer it'd be an idea to install an OPV in place of the dodgy safety valve that's on these machines because it'll probably fail one day. you'll be able to make much better coffee's as well, combined with a single wall basket and a good tamper.
    on my thread, Breville BES820 issues, i put some pics and descriptions of installing it if you want to have a look.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    when you turn the knob to the steam side, can you hear the small clicking noise it usually makes? from the video, it doesn't seem to be clicking as the hot water side does. based on this, and the fault symptoms, it sounds like the steam switch has remained shut when the knob has been returned to neutral.
    the machine thinks the steam section is open when the knob is in the neutral position which doesn't allow any water to flow. this would then cause an error as the machine doesn't know what's going on and just doesn't operate.

    i'd just remove the top casing and check the steam switch to see what condition it is in, you'll be able to see fairly easily if it's got any problems. it is also simple to remove. if it does have a problem, you can disassemble the switch and clean it up, but if there's visible arc damage or melting near the switch contacts, just replace it.

    the BES820 is easy to disassemble and reassemble so there's no real loss from having a go at it.
    Sorry to resurrect this old topic but my BES820 has died again. Steam blowing out the group head instead of the steam wand. Everything looks okay inside, whereas last time the safety assembly had blown a connector. I took the back and top off and tried running the steam to see what was going on and I couldn't see anything obvious. Last time I tried to take the switch out but I couldn't work out how to do it. I just couldn't get to a bunch of screws.

    When I had the back off, steam was trying to come out of the wand, and drips of water were dropping from the nozzle, but every now and then a big puff would come out of the group head.

    Any suggestions??

  14. #14
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    The solenoid directs water and steam flow around the hydraulic circuit in this machine.
    If it is malfunctioning, steam can go through the group head or into the tray.

    Pull the solenoid out, take off the coil and remove the plunger section. Sometimes there's a flake of scale on the plunger seat stopping it from closing properly, this will cause a leak.

    If you so find this, clear the scale out and run an aggressive descale. You may need to do this several times to fully clear it out.

    If there's no scale found, the solenoid could just be faulty, it happens on these machines fairly often.
    The solenoid itself would need to be replaced.

  15. #15
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    Hope no minds i revive an old thread but my 820 seems to haved a related issue though not quite the same;
    initiallly no steam, then power light blinked when steam function turned off. Once on solid, tried again but still no steam. Turned steam off and several minutes later machine did random purge. Steam worked for a short while then stopped. When i tried later on, it made steam but the auto purge afterwards was very short and abruptly stopped. When running water through group head or hot water wand steam comes out first, so seems the thermoblock did not cool adequately. Any suggestions appreciated!

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