Coffee Facts

An Expert Guide to Delonghi Espresso Machine Troubleshooting

Encounter a snag with your De’Longhi? Our espresso machine troubleshooting guide offers both easy and thorough steps to get your machine back in action. Find out how!

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An espresso machine that won’t brew at 4 am when it’s needed most is a code red crisis that puts the rest of the day on hold. But don’t file that support ticket just yet — we have some fixes for you to try out first.

Espresso machines have always been notoriously fickle and trouble-prone, requiring tools and the skills of a mechanic to diagnose. De’Longhi recognizes this and offers a range of machines that lead the market for reliability and ease of troubleshooting, such as the Dedica 685.

You can address most problems in two ways; setting up properly and getting your puck right for the pressurizing filter.

descaling delonghi espresso machine

Key Takeaways

  • De’Longhi espresso machines offer reliability and ease of troubleshooting, with common problems often arising from setup errors or issues with the pressurized filter basket.
  • Regular maintenance like descaling and attentive run-throughs with hot water can prevent many problems, while proper tamping and grind adjustments can solve various extraction issues.
  • A detailed troubleshooting chart is provided for De’Longhi espresso machines, highlighting solutions to common problems like blockages, leaks, and extraction issues.

Trouble Setting Up

A De’Longhi coffee machine is easy to get going, too easy possibly, leading to user complacency. We’ve all been there, groggy and half-blind in the morning, stumbling through the motions, bewildered by a machine that won’t start. Check the plug and retry the switch. This is the one time you can be forgiven for the mistake, which hopefully no one saw.

Watch the buttons cycle through their start-up sequence because this is when the descaling notification appears. A flashing orange steam button will let you know your machine needs this simple process, which isn’t difficult but does take time.

The All-Important Run Through

You can avoid a lot of the troubleshooting process with an attentive run-through, something you should do with all machines but more so when pressurized filters are involved. Assemble the empty portafilter and lock it into place. Then run a shot of hot water to flush as much water as possible. This warms up the pump and your cup and, more importantly, flushes old grinds from the group head.

Remove the portafilter from the group head. You should feel a slight pressure release and see a tiny amount of water left behind. This is a sign that things are pressurizing correctly.

Too much pressure upon release means something’s partially clogged, probably the mesh. Rinse and dry it with a paper towel, not a cloth that can harbor grinds.

No pressure but lots of water left in the filter means the gasket has been compromised, possibly a ding or a scratch.

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Never wander off as the brewer is running. If it clogs, the sooner you can abort, the less pressure will have built up, and the less explosive it will be when you remove the filter (see below).

Pressure Troubles

Welcome to the world of pressurized filter baskets. It’s excellent for making average or lazy shots better, but it’s also a world of complexity that can have trouble all its own for the uninitiated.

Unlike commercial and prosumer machines, these De’Longhis “cheat” a little bit by creating crema. A true coffee aficionado will tell you that the downside is you lose the whole art of espresso. But the upside is it confines almost all problems to the portafilter, which is the easiest place to fix problems.


One problem with pressurized filters is it only takes a single grind of coffee to block the outlet. So scrutinize the filter chassis and mesh screen, including around the seal. A good way to check before starting is to hold it up to the light. You can instantly see if it is clear.

If your machine over-pressurizes, you will know immediately, as you will hear it make a lot of noise and no liquid comes through. Press the extraction button to stop further pumping, and remove any glasses from the tray.

BE VERY CAREFUL removing the filter from an over-pressurized machine as the release will be violent with hot water involved. The handle will be hard to twist, so add some leverage by holding the coffee maker and turning it evenly. Be prepared for the filter to release suddenly with a loud burst as the pressure escapes.

The filter will be filled with hot water. Dump it out, remove the basket, and pop the screen out. Hold the screen up to the light. You will probably find the outlet blocked. A toothpick or other sharp object should clear it, but blow through the outlet just to be sure.

checking delonghi filter chassis and mesh screen

One cause can just be rogue coffee grounds, often picked up from a cloth. However excess pressure can also result from the mesh not seating properly or a damaged seal, which lets grinds get into the bottom of the filter.


Under-pressurizing is usually caused by gunk compromising the head seals, so make sure the three-pronged locking collar on the filter is scrupulously clean. The collar needs a good seal against the basket’s rim, so cleaning with a nylon brush around the lugs keeps everything tight.

Check the collar for dings, burrs, or scratches from cleaning. Despite what you may see star baristas doing, don’t get too cavalier with your technique, as even slight dings will ruin filter pressurization. Burrs can be dealt with using sandpaper, but if you find severe scratches, you’re looking at a new filter.

Older machines with a lot of use will gradually wear down the collar lugs, allowing too much tolerance that lets pressure bleed out. Make sure the lugs are still pristine and not chipped or dented from use. The only fix here is getting a new one.

Persistent Problems

If pressure trouble persists, or even gets worse, there’s a chance you are looking at gasket issues. This requires some open surgery and will postpone your shot, but it could save you a trip to customer service (see below).

Undo the screw in the face of the pressure head. It will come away easily, exposing the pump face with the circular gasket visible around the collar locks. Check this for deformities and buildup of old grinds by gently popping it out with something blunt, like a demitasse spoon.

Wash it and wipe out its recess, then reassemble it carefully. If you’re lucky, it’s just a glitch, but replacements are not hard to find if the gasket is damaged or hardened. Buy two to avoid this happening again.

Extraction Troubles

Pressurized filters offer a safety net for amateur operations. But they mask the diagnosis of what would be evident with a regular filter and are misunderstood by many, resulting in erratic reviews that make some people skeptical of them.

Even the most hopeless coffee puck will still get some pressure in a pressurizing filter, with the filter floor making up for it and disguising the problem. Where the water would gush through or spurt using a normal portafilter basket, with a pressurizing filter, everything can appear fine until it’s too late.

Pressurizing filters rely on an equilibrium of pressure shared by the puck and the filter itself via the little hole in the filter floor. This means the puck works differently than a regular coffee filter, which creates almost all of the extraction pressure.

Pressurizing filters have a guaranteed baseline of pressure from the filter itself, meaning you must match it with your grind.

Too Thin, Sour, and Acidic

Under-extraction happens when too much pressure comes from the filter because the grind is either too coarse, too little, too loose, or the mesh is unseated. Pressure bypasses the puck and is mostly generated by the filter floor.

The pull will sound too easy as if there’s not enough resistance, and pre-infusion will run through too easily. This is the sign your grind isn’t adding enough pressure to that generated by the filter.

pressuring delonghi tamp

Make the grind medium fine, and ensure that you tamp the filter basket right to the top, with only a millimeter below the rim to allow it to lock in.

If you still can’t get the sourness out, run a single pre-infusion, aborting the pull to discard it ristretto-style. Then let it run through as normal, with the puck fully expanded, thereby raising its pressure ratio to the filter floor.

Too Bitter and Flat

Over-extraction happens when the puck is too dense. The combined pressure of the puck and the filter floor, plus the programmed time of the pull, draws too much from the grind. The pull will sound uneven, struggling as it continues, and pre-infusion will probably produce nothing.

Remember, the filter contributes a lot of pressure, so a grind that’s too fine will push it too far. Ease back an increment, drop back a gram or so, bump it in well, and ease off the tamp pressure to about half. In this case, over-tamping would just be normal tamping for a regular filter,

Water Troubles

If you’re not pulling water, it may be the water reservoir has leaked dry, something initially hard to judge as the inlets sit above the bottom of the water tank, making it look like there’s about a shot left. This is easy to do, especially when using the milk frother, and once the clean water supply runs dry, it takes a run-through to refill.

If the inlet seals suck air, check that they are moist and not broken. Always remove the reservoir to refill it, don’t refill it while it is attached, as the seals may have dried out since you last used the espresso coffee maker, potentially jamming the valves open.

De’Longhi has included an alert for when things need descaling. The steam button on the coffee maker flashes orange when turned on. Heed this. The decalcification procedure is simple, fully automated, and no more than a flush-through with a commercial descaling solution. But it will take about 20 minutes, an eternity if you have guests or an early start.

Crisis Averted

Almost all potential troubles with De’Longhi Espresso Machines are easily resolved when they happen. Mechanical problems are almost always simple; a blocked filter or a seal that needs reseating. Like all espresso machines, extraction problems usually come down to the ground coffee itself. In De’Longhi’s case, it might require some adjusting for the pressurizing filter.

Overall, De’Longhi has excelled in making machines easy to keep running for years without missing your shot.

Detailed Troubleshooting Guide

If looking up specific errors is more up your speed, we’ve got you covered too. This handy chart is based on the user manual of the Dedica and our own experiences. Take note that this applies to semi-automatic De’Longhi models, and may not work for the super-automatics.

No espresso comes outNo water in the tankFill the tank
The holes in the portafilter are blockedClean the portafilter spout holes
The portafilter basket is blockedThoroughly clean the portafilter basket
The tank has been inserted incorrectly and the valves on the bottom are not openPress the tank down lightly to open the valves at the bottom
Limescale in the water circuitDescale your machine
The espresso drips out of the edges of the portafilter rather than the spouts or holesThe portafilter has been inserted incorrectly or is dirtyReattach the portafilter and rotate firmly as far as it will go
The gasket has lost elasticity or is dirtyHave the gasket replaced
The holes in the portafilter spouts are blockedClean the portafilter spout holes
The portafilter basket is blockedThoroughly clean the portafilter basket
The portafilter cannot be attached to the group headToo much coffee has been placed in the portafilterCheck your dose and ensure you are using the correct basket size
The espresso crema is too light (under extraction)The ground coffee is not tamped down firmly enoughTamp the ground coffee more firmly
There is not enough coffee in the basketIncrease the dose
The ground coffee is ground too coarseGrind finer, or use pre-ground coffee for espresso machines
The wrong type of pre-ground coffee is usedSwitch to another roast or type of pre-ground coffee
The espresso crema is too dark (over extraction)The ground coffee is tamped too firmlyTamp the coffee with less pressure
There is too much ground coffee in the basketReduce the dose
The espresso group head or boiler outlet is blockedClean the grouphead
The portafilter basket is blockedThoroughly clean the portafilter basket
The ground coffee is too fineGrind coarser, or use pre-ground coffee for espresso machines
Limescale in the water circuitDescale your machine
After espresso is brewed, the portafilter basket remains attached to the group headInsert the portafilter carefully, press the brew switch, and remove it once again
The appliance will not make any drink and the volumetric brew and steam buttons flash for a few secondsNo water in tankFill the tank with water
The tank has been inserted incorrectly and the valves on the bottom are not openPress the tank down lightly to open the valves at the bottom
The espresso group head or boiler outlet is blockedClean the grouphead
The portafilter basket is blockedThoroughly clean the portafilter basket
Limescale in the water circuitDescale your machine
The appliance does not function and all the lights flashDisconnect the appliance immediately and contact technical support
No milk froth is formed when making cappuccinosThe ring is in the "Hot Milk" positionPush the ring into the "CAPPUCCINO" position
Milk not cold enoughAlways use milk from the refrigerator
Cappuccino maker dirtyClean the cappuccino maker
Limescale in the water circuitDescale your machine
And the end of descaling, the appliance requests a further rinseDuring the rinse cycle, the water tank has not been filled to the MAX levelRepeat the rinse cycle


Can I Replace the Filter Mesh Seal?

No, they are factory-integrated into the mesh. You’ll need to buy a whole new filter.

Does Blasting the Frother Release an Over-Pressurized Filter?

No, because the pressure in the filter is the other side of a one-way pump, but it will release pressure backed up in the machine, which won’t hurt.

What if the Group Head Gushes Water?

This is a sure sign the group head gasket is gone. Remove as detailed above and replace.

What If I Still Can’t Fix the Problem?

As with all machines, sometimes you can’t fix the problem yourself, and with home coffee machines, you often can’t get to the mechanism. De’Longhi machines have a good reputation for reliability, which is good as their customer service has suffered over the last few years.

Happy Caffeinating!

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