Fixit Clinic 2024-12-09

The Fixit Clinic is an event in which “coaches” help people repair their broken household items with a focus on teaching repair skills rather than actually getting the item in question repaired.

I, along with another person spent the entire 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM period helping to repair a leaking Nespresso Inissia. This coffee machine forces hot water through coffee pods at high pressure to produce an espresso brew. After spending quite a bit of time disassembling, testing, and staring blankly at the thing, we found out that the leak came from where the cup-puncturing piece connected with the heating element. The cup-puncturing piece was a roughly cylindrical GF-nylon piece that slid like a piston into a hole in the heating element where the heated water came out. An O-ring provided sealing and two plastic tabs kept heater and puncture-r locked together. Unfortunately, one tab had snapped off (possibly due to the repeated heating and cooling of the part combined with GF-nylon’s brittleness), causing the connection to leak. Since there was nothing we could do, we put the machine back together. By cutting the foil off one used cup, scraping the coffee out, and stacking another cup on top to create a double-thickness cup, we were able to decrease leaking since the thicker cup pressed against the cup-puncturer, keeping it more or less sealed in place.

The coffee machine owner had initially said the leaking water was cold, implying that it leaked before the heating element. However, we found that the water cooled down significantly as it fell, showing that the temperature of the leaking water is not always indicative of where it leaks from. They said they preferred this discontinued machine, which brewed coffee like a traditional espresso machine, over a newer model which poured water in the pod and spun it at high speed using centrifugal force to create pressure. However, a replacement machine of this discontinued model would be really expensive while a real espresso machine would be really, really expensive.

Helpful guides for identifying leaks and disassembly of the Nespresso Inissia can be found here (Youtube video) and here (iFixit guide). The section of the video pertaining to this coffee machine’s leak starts at 14:26.

The disassembly of this coffee machine was truly painful. It can be said without a doubt this machine was not designed to be repaired. The entire thing was held together by snap-fit plastic pieces with hard-to-find tabs/clips with only 2 torx screws holding the handle on. Other coffee machines aren’t much better: a Keurig machine that I attempted to disassemble some months prior was even harder to take apart — most of the clips snapped and we didn’t attempt a reassembly after the customer decided against replacing the faulty bimetallic thermostat.