Lelit PL041 issues...
Hi guys, been a couple of years or so since I bought my Lelit thanks to advice from here, it's generally been good, but struck some issues recently.
I'd gotten slack and forgotten to backflush it in ages, also thanks to running out of powder, and forever forgetting to buy more, then when I did it was really grotty, but a bit of elbow grease and repeated cleaning and it came clean, although it exposed an issue.
It had been making inconsistent shots of late, part of which I'd put down to build up, also part of which I'd put down to a replacement group seal I fitted that was never quite right, from day one the rubber temper seemed too hard, this created a poor seal at times, regardless of how hard I'd crank up the PF, leading to leakage, which also lead up to really bad build up where you don't want it, but all of that gone, new seal from one of the Lelit importers, and was spot on the instant I fitted it, but I'm off my own topic now...
During the repeated backflushing to get it good and clean, I was getting what I thought could be something sticking, cause the pump was stalling out during the back flush, only randomly though, so I started messing around with stuff, tracing where the pressure went etc, found the OPV, dick of a design I thought, but I checked that, though it had no real trace of scale, machine has always used pure filtered water, messing with the OPV and adjusting it, the problem seemed to come and go, sometimes it would stall, then suddenly it would be pumping through the OPV again just fine.
I got frustrated in the end, everything seemed clean, no issues I could find, so I put it back together so I could make coffee again, but as of today I put some descale through it, and as I suspected, no trace of anything came out, very clean in the boiler etc, but the pump stalling out seems bad now, and really no flow out the return hose though the OPV, but to me it almost seems like perhaps it's not the OPV creating an issue, and maybe more the pump is not providing enough pressure to actually trigger it anymore, which is sometimes random.
When I got thinking about it, the pump sounds doughy compared to when the machine was new, for a vibration pump it does seem to vibe like it used to, so do they fade?, or should I still be looking at the OPV or is there something else in the system that can cause it to stall out and not flow through the OPV?
I don't mind so much if I have to throw a new pump or OPV in it, not all that expensive, just wondering if I'm missing anything?
It's possibly interesting that when I got up today, and made a coffee, after the pump or whatever cooling down over night, the OPV was flowing again during pouring the shot, and sounded stronger again, the more I messed with it last night, the less it seemed to not want to build enough pressure to trigger the OPV during backflushing or pulling a shot, and seemed to just fade more the hotter the pump got.
I think I'll just buy a new pump from Jetblack early next week, $59 seemed cheap enough, looking at their other parts, makes me want to fit some of the things they improved since they made my machine, like the built in pressure gauge, and ball jointed steam valve, kind of pissed they added those two things like a year after I bought mine. I had a laugh
Actually, anyone know what these things sell for used?, fixed of course, mine is is damn good shape considering the use and current minor glitch.
Either way, I gave up smoking this year, and just remembered I half promised myself if I ever managed that, I'd upgrade my coffee machine...
Just to follow up, mainly because I know things like this come up in internet searches, I replaced the pump, massive change, all fixed, meaning the original pump was failing after less than 2 years use, luck of the draw I guess...
Those ULKA pumps are reliable, but are damn funny if you remove and reinstall the plastic models. The thread seams to wear and then leak from disasembly and reassembly.
First thing I "used" to do was tighten it a bit more. However this can cause the brass fitting to push on that cross like screw which can over tighten the the spring for the tiny check valve (or one way valve) within the pump (prevents the flow of water from the boiler through the pump back to the water tank). When it is overtightened the pump force required to open the check valve can sometimes cause too much of a flow restriction and a significant drop in pumping performance.
If you ever notice this sometimes loosening the screw can restore pumping performance, but you will then need to seal the thread. I use thread tape, but I assume a food grade water safe thread sealant would be better. Sometimes it is not worth the effort and a new pump is the best solution.
I never touched the original plastic pump, or never removed it to dismantle it, never seemed worth it, but I had flow without pressure, the pump passed a rough volume test, but gave no pressure under load, the replacement pump was the brass version, I noticed no one even bothers to sell the plastic one, new pump will flow near the same volume as the old pump, but never even hints at slowing down under pressure/load, so now I have pressure back.
Really I think the old pump was stalling out somewhere near or about 8bar or so if I had to guess, randomly at first, then constantly, now I'm just left to want to re-tune the OPV, got a gauge coming to check and re-adjust that, fairly sure mine came with a 10.5bar set, I'll try and calibrate it back to 9bar or so, or whatever seems to give the best pulls.
Just a heads up in regard to long term ownership of a Lelit...
I started getting pump problems again some time ago, once again chased other problems, but it was the pump stalling out again, so again I needed a new pump.
New pump in, and it's fine now, which makes me wonder about the reliability of the Ulka pumps when you use your machine a lot (which I really do).
But also I noticed a couple of running changes Ulka have made to the pumps, one is some type of new rubber feeling material inside the red hard casing, and the new pump does seem quieter; more interesting is Ulka have lowered the operating voltage...
I mention that because I know from a few sparky friends depending where you live, even though we are "240V", while some areas you get high voltage, you also get low lines voltage (if randomly tested your property could see anything from 215-250 volts).
Can't remember my original pumps voltage, but the replacement was/is 230V, and the brand new pump fitted, is 220V, making me wonder about that as either a life or supply issue causing early burn out, or maybe even lower voltage areas making the pump stall.
Apart from that, I'd still recommend a Lelit, even with any issues I have had, credit where it's due, cause it still makes good coffee I think 7+ years after I bought it.
Originally Posted by Bishop
Thanks for the update on lifespan and maintenance, timely in my case as am picking up a Lelit PL41TEMD in a few hours from Jet Black. I would think much internally is similar.
On voltage it has been a while since we were 240V in Australia. We changed to 230V way back in 2000, with a variance as you suggested on +10% -6%. There has been an advisory to reduce range to +6% -2%. The idea was in 2000 that most countries went 230V rather than 220V or 240V to reduce manufacturing costs and provide a wider choice of goods to countries. As you suggested different locations can have varying voltage, mainly in rural areas where close to a substation can be high so those a distance away can get some voltage. If we are both within driving distance of Jet Black we probably have a fairly consistent voltage.
As an electrician I believe that when they changed to 230V nothing in the distribution network changed. They changed to 230V with different tolerances so that the actual voltage you get out of the wall is still ~220-260V.
Thanks Level3ninja for the 'no change' info, I remember people saying that at the time and was naive enough to think surely it wasn't so. I had an electronics repair company at the time and always noted that rural WA usually had 260V +, seemed a long way from 230V. With your comments makes more sense. Thanks