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As you might have guessed i snagged up another espresso machine. I was told the machine started leaking water after being descaled and that somehow it wouldn’t switch off anymore. Having seen some of the pictures of the machine before committing to the sale it seemed like an easy fix. When i picked up the package it came in this afternoon it all went south though.


Truth be told the package looked good from the outside, it was taped together well and i didn’t notice any parts moving around freely inside, unlike the Astoria grinder i picked up a while ago. When i opened the box i quickly noticed that the watertank had been broken because the powercable was put behind it. Not startled just yet i put a little water in the tank (just enough to cover the waterinlethose) and plugged it in. While the machine was described as “not switching off anymore” i couldn’t get it to do anything. The powerswitch didn’t do anything and neither did the steam or brew switch. Oddly enough the lights in the kitchen wouldn’t turn on anymore either and it became clear the machine had tripped the breaker and had a short in it somewhere.


When i reset the breaker and opened up the machine i noticed that it looked a lot like the Isomac Giada i recently repaired. On a hunch i pulled the two connectors from the heatingelement and plugged the machine back in. The lights didn’t go out this time and the machine appeared to be working, except for the heatingelement obviously. Bad news.

Opening the boiler revealed a couple of odd things. The first thing i noticed was the sheer amount of calcium deposits and flakes in it, even though the seller told me it was recently descaled. The heatingelement looked a little twisted too and when i cleaned out the scaling it suddenly made sense why the machine tripper the breaker. I assume the previous owner tried to remedy the leaking boiler by trying to tighten the two nuts on the heatingelement. The problem with that is however that the heatingelement will twist if you use too much force with the risk of damaging the heatingelement. In this particular case the heatingelement had to endure a tremendous amount torquing which lead to two individual rips in the metal of the element.

To be continued

Obviously i am going to need new parts to fix this one and i’ve already contacted the seller to see what we can work out. The machine clearly had a bunch of hidden defects that weren’t mentioned when i bought it. For now this project is on hold =(

[Update] The seller has stepped up and offered to pay for the new waterreservoir. I’ll pay for the new heatingelement (and various other parts) and then call it a day.


  • Paul says:

    Dear Sebastiaan, my Seaco Aroma also leeks. The water is comming from under the nut entrance of the heating element. I replaced the rubber o-rings and the heating element. But when I put the new ones in they looked a bit small. Do you think something else could cause the leek.

    • Sebastiaan says:

      Hi Paul, the rings that you mention are not supposed to be rubber! Normally there are two soft plastic rings used to seal them off. I recommend replacing them as soon as possible to prevent any possible electrical damages.

      But beware, there are two types of heating elements with different diameter threads and different diameter rings. If i’m not mistaken there’s a 12mm and a slightly bigger imperial sized version. If you need any further help don’t hesitate to contact me =)

  • juan says:

    Hello, i have a ferrari cremosa, looks like is a saeco aroma clone, is just like it buty black.
    i’m a newbie on coffe, but i know this, a presurized portafilter is almost bulletproof for newbies, and non presurized need a good grinder, cuz you need a specific type of grind depending on your machine….

    mine come without the presurized pfr, so if i send you some photos can you tellme if the saeco aroma ptf could work on mine ?


    • A pressurized portafilter definitely is more forgiving in terms of what coffee you use and its coarseness. However, you don’t absolutely need a $/€ 1000 grinder to get good results. In fact, I’ve used my Nemox Lux ($/€ 100 used) for the longest time for espresso with my La Pavoni and let me tell you, that La Pavoni is rather picky about what it does and doesn’t like in its filters. Really as long as you can adjust the grinds coarseness on the grinder and you can get it fine and consistent enough, you can use pretty much any grinder, even hand grinders! Do you have a grinder of some sort already?

      As for the portafilters being interchangeable I wouldn’t count on it, I’m not saying it’s impossible but highly unlikely. You can compare your portafilter to the one in the pictures in the Saeco Aroma – cleaned, repaired and ready for action post. I sadly have since sold the machine so I don’t have the portafilter on hand anymore to take any measurements.

  • Tony T says:

    Dear Sebastiaan.
    I have a Saeco Aroma tradional it’s been a while now. The other day I turn it on and noticed the green light on the on/off switch flicker off. I proceeded to turn it on and off again, but no luck…. I then tried to use a different outlet in another room but nothing,it wont turn on. Can it be that id have to reset my thermostat? Where is it located.

    • That could be any number of things. I’d check the power on switch first. Flickering lights usually mean a wonky contact, could be either the switch or the power cord. Check if those two are working.

      The old style thermal fuse is non-resettable and needs to be replaced when it trips. The fuse is held in place by a small metal bar on top of the boiler. The newer thermal fuses auto reset, the only thing you need to do to reset it is to let the entire machine cool down. If it’s still not working after cooling down, replace it.

  • N Padgett says:

    Dear Sebastian, I wrote to you about a year ago with a problem with my Saeco Aroma extruding very little coffee. You replied with instructions on how to troubleshoot. The long and the short of it: my engineer husband helped dismantling per your slide show and poking around. We discovered a plastic part in the portafilter had completely broken. No fix from us was going to help, so I ordered a new portafilter. Now my Saeco works like new. Thank you again for all your help.

  • Mauricio says:

    Hi Sebastiaan, I bought the very same aroma model for my father and he did not use it for a year. It was stored clean, so when I set it up last month I simply put water and turned it on and ran the hot through it for a few seconds before attempting a brew.
    It did brew a nice coffee and the crema looked nice. I did however notice it seemed to take too long for the pressurized portafilter to open up, like the pump was struggling. after a few attempts it seemed to work fin so i left it and dad made coffee for a couple weeks. when he told me it stopped working I had a look and noticed that when plugged it the unit would not switch on. I thought it must be a fuse but upon opening i realized there is only the thermo unit and i could see no reason why it would not turn on. I tried bridging the contacts on the power switch with a screwdriver and voila it turns on. So after removing the switch I noticed on one side there was melted plastic and realized the switch failed. I have swapped the contacts to the other side of the switch (no light for now) until i replace the switch. I thought maybe the pump was clogged and was working to hard? I removed the pump and opened it up and it looks clean like new!
    I will replace the switch but I am stumped as to why the machine seems to be struggling to get the portafilter open.

    Any advice would be great.

    • Hi Mauricio,

      the pumps on these machines are very basic vibration pumps. They have spool inside that is magnetised by putting a voltage across it. The spool then pulls or pushes the plunger inside the pump. The phase of the power alternates 50 or 60 times a second (depending on where you live) which reverses the polarity on the spool making the plunger go back and forth 50 or 60 times a second too. Even if the pump was completely frozen, it would most likely not cause the switch to fail. A plugged or worn out pump builds less pressure, but it’d have to be really bad to be unable to open a pressurised portafilter.

      On the subject of the portafilter, have you tried using the portafilter without any coffee in it? If it still doesn’t seem to want to push through you should try to listen to the pump. If no water comes through but the noise that the pump makes changes that means it is at least building up pressure. If the sound does change, take apart the portafilter and its valve and give it a good cleaning.

      Now for the switch issue, replace that thing asap. The switch failing could be simply by corroded internal contacts in the switch. Corrosion impairs proper conductive contact and when that happens… stuff gets hot, melts and potentially starts a fire. If you want to be on the absolute safe side, label all the wires on the switches, remove all switches, replace the faulty power switch and do a continuity test on every other switch with a multimeter. Visually inspect the other contacts, plugs and connectors for any corrosion and replace where necessary.

  • Joel says:

    Hi Sebastian,

    My Saeco Aroma SIN015 actually does the same thing as your seller reported, after descaling I do a coffee and after a few second when the pressure is building again in the machine it start leaking water then steam.
    When I try to make another coffee it takes a few seconds to pour like the pump is discharged.

    Any idea how to fix that ?


    • Hi Joel,

      chances are that you too are dealing with a lot of scale inside the machine. The little silicone plunger that is supposed to keep the grouphead sealed until it reaches a certain pressure is more than likely not fully closing due to a small flake of calcium getting stuck. The same thing could very well apply to the steam valve, if anything is stuck in there it’ll keep the valve from closing completely and will then let pressure + water out through the gap.

      The best solution is to simply take the boiler out, open it and clean it thoroughly. Make sure you replace the boiler gasket though. However, you can try descaling with a citric acid solution again, make sure it’s in the boiler for a good while (15 – 30min). Then, flush the boiler, pull in some more citric acid solution from the tank and leave it sitting for another 15-30 minutes. Do that until the tank is empty. Run some of the solution through the wand too by powering the pump on and opening the steam wand.

      To clarify, the machine should be off during those 15 – 30 minute periods. The boiler should be warm so let it warm up for a minute (max) and then shut the machine off and let it sit.

      After the tank is empty, run a few tanks of clean water through the machine and the wand, rinsing it thoroughly. Let me know how it goes!

  • Jean-Luc LeBrun says:

    Hi Sebastiaan,

    On this Sunday late afternoon , my saeco Aroma (same that the one you sold ) just stop. I realized that it needed a big cleaning job . But after cleaning mostly the portafilter ,I could not put it back together again. After searching on the internet I found your site with all the photos of your cleaning job
    Thank’s a lot for all those info and picture !

  • Elie Marc Ghosn says:

    First I’d like to say thanks for putting this info up!
    I had visited your site already a year or so back as I was tinkering with an Aroma Nero SIN 006. Found a lotta useful information and with some parts. I got the machine running, not optimally but better than before. Had put new gaskets and o-rings, new pump and tubing, filters… Really a refurbish.
    The issue with that machine though is the taste … Tastes too much like burn coffee and it smells
    That got me to try to find information on the 2 thermostats on the top of the boiler… I had found the manual/diagram at some point but it’s been a while and not sure where again.
    I’m wondering if flipping the thermostats would affect the taste of the coffee or it might be smth else I’m overlooking. I believe they’re 107/95 C°

    Any ideas

    • Switching the thermostats around would be a bad idea. One of them (107°C) is a safety, the other is used to brew. If you’d switch them around, the entire machine would turn off any time the boiler would reach 95°C.

      That said, there’s a good chance that the thermostats are not reading the temperature properly. There should be some thermal compound between the thermostats and the boiler to get an accurate temperature reading. If that compound is missing or dried out, the thermostats will read a lower temperature and won’t trigger soon enough. However, if the thermal compound is present and in good condition measure the water temperature directly under the shower screen. If the water temperature is above 95, there’s a chance that a replacement thermostat is in order.

      Now, if everything checks out (compound, temperature under shower screen) then you could also try switching to a thermostat that triggers at a lower temperature.

  • Jim says:

    Hi Sebastiaan – my friend gave my daughter his old aroma which had been stored for several years. The pump didn’t work which was easily remedied w a new part but then the black o ring right after the pump leaked so I ordered a new one from Phillips. The new one leaks too – and if I tighten it too much it squishes out and creates a bigger leak. Is there some sort of trick or secret with these?

    • There are a few different styles of Ulka pumps, some need that o-ring, some don’t. Can you take a picture of the outlet of the pump without the o-ring and send it to my email (

  • mark says:

    Hi Sebastiaan – I have a Saeco Aroma purchased in April 2016. It’s been working great. In the past few days it’s been tripping the GFI, I thought the GFI may be defective so I tried it on a few different circuits and had the same result. It appears to cycle up from cold and trips the GFI the closer it gets up to temp. Any thoughts?

    • Most of the time when these machines trip breakers it’s because of either a leak or a faulty / cracked heating element. I’d recommend letting the machine cool down completely, removing the machine from power, removing the top cover and then powering it back on. If you can see water leaking anywhere at all, you’ve found your issue. While you’re at it, also check the wiring (while removed from power obviously) for charring, chafing or any sort of damage really.

      If everything seems to be in good working order, ie. no leaks and wiring is good, then you’re most likely looking at an issue with the heating element. This normally doesn’t happen unless you’ve used very hard water (high calcium), boiled the boiler dry on more than one occasion or the boiler / heating element has been incorrectly put back together (too much torque on the nuts twists the element and will fracture it).

  • Sam says:

    Hi Sebastian, I have a question: My Saeco Aroma had been leaking around the portafilter for quite a while. Few days ago, the shower screen of the grouphead literally fell off. I was surprised to see that the screen had been totally blocked with tar-like gunk, so it became clear why there was so much leakage. I cleaned all the little holes on the screen, but now I am not sure how the unit attaches to the grouphead. There is a hole of about 1/4″ at the center of the screen, but no corresponding screw or seat on the grouphead. How does the screen attach to the head? Do I need to replace the entire grouphead? I can see the picture on your repair posting (titled “The new grouphead seal, without the shower screen”) but I don’t understand how the screen is mounted to the grouphead.

    • Hi Sam! Leakage around the portafilter is often either a dirty or dried up / hard portafilter seal. They are generally easy enough to replace yourself. The black tar-like gunk on the shower screen is a combination of very minute coffee particles / dust and coffee oils. That said, the shower screen is not meant to fall off. It’s attached to the grouphead with a bolt, right down the center. My guess is that the bolt backed out over time and that you simply missed it when emptying the portafilter at some point. It’s a metric bolt, M4 x 8mm if I’m not mistaken. You should be able to pick one up locally at a decent hardware store, just make sure it’s stainless steel. If you’re unable to get one locally, I can obviously ship one your way.

  • Tom says:

    Hi, I’m have a few problems with my Saeco aroma. The brew and steam lights quit working. The machine does heat up and will make espresso but next to zero steam. Like I said no lights come on indicating it’s ready to go. I suspect one of the temp sensors are bad, not sure how to tell which one. I have used a millimeter and both sensors have some resistance. I don’t have a wiring diagram so I am doing a bit of guessing.

    • Hi Tom, sounds like you’re having some electrical gremlins! Unfortunately I don’t have a wiring diagram myself either. I generally label every connector before removal, as well as making plenty photos. That aside, when the machine warms up, do you mean that it does get to normal espresso temperature?

  • Marcel says:

    Hi Sebastiaan! Apparently you’re the Saeco doctor, so you’re my last resort here 😉
    I have Seaco Aroma, a newer model (from around 2011) that has been in use for several years. After descaling the machine, I can – at most – brew two cups of coffee before the machine appears to stop pumping and starts making a more silent zooming sound. I’ve cleaned and reassembled the portafilter and cleaned the shower screen. I believe that before cleaning the shower screen the water was pushed through the screen (just like a real shower), now it’s just sort of dripping through the screen. Any ideas how to resolve this and where to start looking? I haven’t taken the grouphead apart yet, that’s next on the list.

    • Generally when the pump starts making a more silent humming noise it’s because it’s pulling a vacuum in the supply line. I’d check (and maybe even replace) the silicone tube that the pump uses to pull water out of the tank. If you have a filter on that tube, try running it without a filter a few times as that filter may just be clogged. If that doesn’t solve it, there could also be something (scale most likely) blocking the piston inside the pump. Descale the machine again with a hot citric acid solution and have the solution sit in the pump for a good 15 – 20 minutes. Then run plenty of clean tap water through it.

  • jean-marc turgeon says:

    hello Sebastiaan
    I do have a Saeco Aroma (last gene. ) with a leaking steam wand: even with the valve fully close , a lot of water came from; I did replace the knob and shaft sometime ago , it was better but now it is worse then before ; i heard about sanding the shaft or so…? Or maybe i will have to change the valve itself inside the machine (female part ) ? What do you think ?
    Many Thanks for your help

    • Hi Jean-Marc, it could be that you have some built up scale on the mating surfaces of the valve. I generally recommend cleaning / descaling before replacing anything as that’s generally the less cumbersome / less expensive option. I’d mix up a liter of descaling solution (citric acid), pour that into an empty tank, let the machine pull it in and get it warm. Then, turn on the pump with the steam valve open and wait for water to emerge from the tip. Shut it off, let it sit for ~10 minutes with an open valve (put something underneath the steam wand to catch the solution) and then rinse, repeat as necessary.

      If that doesn’t work there’s a good chance the mating surface inside the body of the steam valve has worn beyond repair. There is very little you can do about that and your best bet at that point is to simply replace the steam valve entirely (not just the knob + shaft).

  • Carolle says:


    Trouble with my Saeco Roma : no water Out of the steam Wand or the coffee head. Is it the pump need to be changed?

  • Christina says:

    Hello! I was just given a saeco aroma. It doesn’t want to prime. It appears to have lots of scale so I attempted to run a descaling solution through it. It heats up but won’t pull the solution through. A few small drops will come out of the steam wand. The pump is loud but not pulling solution.

    Any thoughts on what to try next?

    Thanks so much for all the info you’ve put out! I’ve learnt so much already!

    • Hi Christina, depending on how bad the scale buildup inside the boiler is, it might simply not be able to push any water through it anymore. The steam wand is attached to the top of the boiler where scale buildup is generally less of an issue. However, if you open up the steam valve all the way and turn the pump on, your should get a decent stream of water out of the wand itself. If that doesn’t happen either, then you really should take the boiler apart for a thorough cleaning as it’s quite likely that it’s chock full of scale.

  • Juan Carrillo says:

    Hi Sebastian,

    How nice to find this blog and also all the information that you have posted.
    I also recently got a Saeco Aroma, the machine needed a good clean and I also changed the rubbers from the group head from the outside. The issue is that when it starts up and begins to heat it starts dripping water. The same happens after pulling a shot, which leaves the portafilter and puck muddy and soft. The machine keeps dripping water even after the portafiler is removed after pulling the shot.

    Do you have any ideas on what could be the issue / potential solution?

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

    Juan Carrillo.

    • Hi Juan! There’s a little rubber stopper above the center screw that holds the shower screen in. Over time those turn rock solid, stop sealing and leak near constantly. When you replace it, make sure to replace the spring in there too!

  • Nathalie Béland says:

    Hello Sebastiaan,
    Thank you for all the informations you are sharing. I have a saeco aroma, that I’m taking good care of. Before christmas, my machine started tripping when put on the steam function. It would heat (light on), than stopped midway (light off), way before the steam builds up. I made a good clean-up, descaled, changed the infusion kit, and installed 2 new thermostats, but the steam mode kept on tripping. Open the whole thing, and realized that water was leaking around the elements connectors, with visible rust around them. Changed the element, as well as the o’rings around the connectors (had a big fuss finding the o’rings), put back everything together, plugged the machine, heat comes in, water goes through, no water leaks, but it still trips halfway on steam mode. Reading earlier comments and answers, I noticed that you were mentionning that a thermal compound was needed. When I replaced the thermal fuses, I notice that there was some white paste, but not a lot, so I didn’t care about putting some more. So, I guess that 2 little patches of thermal compound will end my refurbishing work. I see that there is several types of paste, so Sebastiaan, would you be kind enough to tell me which one I should use to finally solve my problem?
    Thank you very-very much!

    • By tripping, do you mean it trips your breakers, or just shuts off? If it trips the breakers it is still shorting out somewhere. When tightening the nuts on the heating element you need to be very careful that you don’t twist the element leads. Usually I’ll leave the bottom half of the boiler off so that I can spot any sort of movement of the coil. If the coil has twisted, it’s likely cracked and water is shorting it out. I’d recommend opening the boiler and checking the coil just to be sure. If the boiler seal is new, you can reuse it afterwards.

      As for thermal compounds, that doesn’t have to be too fancy. In a pinch you can get a small tube of compound / paste from most computer repair stores, a little drop is sufficient. Do not get the epoxy / glue types though.

      • Nathalie says:

        Thank you for the answer. I’ve put the paste (bought in a computer store), but it tripped again (shots off) and it wouldn’t turn on anymore. Now, I can see that the connector in the steam switch (top right) is burnt; I guess that this was the initial problem. I’m not sure I understand about the twisted element leads, but I’m pretty sure that nothing has cracked in there. The coffee function of the machine is working perfectly well. Now I’m heading for a bipolar switch change. Thank you again!

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