Question about Saeco Incanto Classic Espresso Machine

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Stuck on Ventilation

Our machine (first time use) is stuck on the "ventilation" mode, with no water flowing through it. We have tried unplugging, etc. What can we do?

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  • Ajay69 Nov 18, 2007

    I reloaded( refilled the water tank). Thereafter my machine is stuck on ventilate. Water is flowing through the steam maker. However, no coffee is being made

  • shaun_whisky Dec 14, 2007

    Ventilate means the machine is not passing water due to an air lock or blockage. Possible reasons - pump not working, flow meter not functioning, blockage in the brewing unit, or maybe the steam nozzle / coffee dispenser is blocked. There could be other reasons to, but these are probably the most common.

    Clear out any possible blockage in the brewing unit, make sure the piston is opening and closing properly, lubricate with silicone spray if necessary.

    Take the top off the machine and remove one end of the tube from the steam / hot water tap body, then try to run water. If no water passes through this will tell you the problem is in either the pump or the flow meter. The pump can be tested by extracting it from the machine and putting it across 240 volts. The pump has a coil which is not polarity conscious, if it doesn't pass water then it's faulty. If it does, check the flow meter, or maybe the power board isn't giving the signal to operate the flow meter. If water is reaching the tap body inlet, then your blockage will be in the tap body, brew unit (maybe the piston isn't opening or closing, or maybe you have a simple blockage in the steam nozzle or coffee dispenser.

  • Jo_Coffee Feb 29, 2008

    Mine did this after the water tank is completely empty (after descaling). When it happened I drove it to the shop and the vibrations from the car apparently fixed it.
    What irritates me now (tonight) is that I had a leaking tank, coffee disaster, had it fixed under warranty, took it home, and the problem has started all over again. Nothing will fix it, even though it has just bled out two tanks of boiling hot water. So I went on the web googled "Saeco" "incanto" and "Ventilate" and found heaps of complaints, and no solutions

  • Anonymous Jun 24, 2008

    I have finally fixed the problem. I too had "VENTILATION" displayed on the screen and after several attempts of descaling and redescaling i rang a local coffee supplier.

    She told me the problem was most likely an air bubble inside the machine. To remove this I filled the water tank and pressed the hot water button on the bottom right corner next to the screen.

    This worked the first time, as the ventilation sign went away and the machine was ready to use. However, you may need to pressed the hot water button several times to push out the air bubble. Wait 5 seconds between pressing the button.

    Good luck!

  • Anonymous Oct 18, 2008

    Same problem. None of the listed fixes work. The design flaw of the machine is not worth the trouble. I'm returning mine to Costco.

  • baristaandy Feb 15, 2009

    Our machine suddenly stopped making coffee, instead of coffee coming out of the brewing nozzle, the machine gives a lot of steam inside and dispenses coffee inside which then finds it's way to the counter. Messy and no coffee. The steamer however is working just fine. Any tips are quite welcome.

  • Anonymous Apr 03, 2009




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I won't say that this will defintely fix your problem but it worked for our Incanto. Our machine would frequently refuse to steam when we turned the steam knob, the pump would either not start or it would chugg once and then do nothing until the machine would say ventilate. After the machine said ventilate we couldn't do anything with it besides wait. Sometimes it would start pumping water within minutes; one time it hadn't started working by the next day. Nothing I found online would help. I discovered a solution by accident, just playing around with the machine.

First: If your machine is saying ventilate and will not do so when you turn the knob. Return the machine to it's factory default settings. If you've made many changes to the settings this is a bummer, but it's better than a machine that doesn't work. After you've reset the machine the screen should go back to the 'normal' ready display. If you can turn the knob and get hot water now, great, draw some hot water into a cup. I call this manual ventilation. If this works you're good to go, enjoy your coffee. If you turn the knob and the pump does not start right away turn it back off before it goes to the ventilate screen and proceed to the next step. If you weren't fast enough reset it again and go to the next step.

Second: If it still won't pump water or steam, draw a blank espresso (push the pre-ground button and then draw a coffee without adding grounds). If you're and optimist just draw an espresso. Try the steam knob again, if the pump starts working draw some hot water to manually ventillate it. Hopefully this will work for you. I had to draw four coffees once before it would start, most of the time it only takes one or two.

We've only had our machine since September of 2008. We had this problem often in the beginning, but only once in the last couple of months. I'm not entirely sure why our machine works so well now. One thing that may have helped is that we decided not to use the large filter that came with the machine, we switched to using distilled water so the filter seemed like overkill. The other possibility is that we use the heck out of it. There are two of us and we drink about 5 lattes each per day. That's 20 small shots a day. If you don't want to use distilled water you could use a Britta filter instead

After you've done this a few times you will start to recognize when the machine is not going to pump steam or water. Just turn the knob off before the machine switches to ventilate, draw a coffee or a blank and try again. This will save you from losing all of your settings.

I hope this works for you. Good luck.

Posted on Mar 13, 2009

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I went through 3 machines (both Gaggia and Saeco--both have the same Rapid Steam system), hours of searching the Internet, and phone conversations with support(?) staff before I came up with what seems to be good options for both fixing the problem and then preventing it from being a problem again.

The Fix. Fixing the problem works better with two people, so I will refer to person 1 (P1) and person 2 (P2). To fix the problem: 1) P1 uses either a turkey baster or the small plastic (and leaky) pump packaged with the machine; 2) while the readout says "ventilate", P2 pushes the hot water button, then turns the machine off and removes the water tank; 3) P1 fills the plastic pump (or baster) with water and inserts it into the water intake valve (as best as you can, it doesn't fit perfectly); 4) P2 then turns the machine on and opens the steam wand while P1 pushes water into the intake using the plastic pump or baster; 5) as soon as P1 is finished, P2 turns off the steam valve. Repeat steps 3) through 5) until the machine has accepted 4-5 good pumps of water. If you get the "fill watertank" message, you must begin the entire process over again (if you get the "fill watertank" message every time, just keep following the process until you get the machine to accept 4-5 good pumps of water); 6) turn the machine off and reseat the water tank. 7) Turn the machine on, press the hot water button, and open the steam valve. It may take a minute, but you should finally get water. Run it until it becomes a steady stream, and then some more...about 8 ounces worth. I have found that this process doesn't always work if the machine is hot. When it's hot, it sometimes won't accept any water into the intake valve.

Prevention. To prevent the problem, I have been successful (so far) by: 1) after steaming milk, I push the hot water button and run hot water through the wand until it is a steady stream, and then about 4 oz more. 2) I always steam the milk first, then run hot water through the wand, and then make the espresso. 2) I always run water through the wand after making coffee.

This seems like a lot of steps, but it really doesn't take that long once it's part of your routine. I've been successful with this process for the last several day and before that, I was getting the ventilate message every time I tried to steam milk. I'm hoping it continues to work! It's really a shame that the technical staff have not come up with a better solution or, at the least, addressed the problems people are currently experiencing. When I called Saeco, they told me they didn't know why it as happening!

Posted on Dec 12, 2007

  • tandhenn Nov 08, 2010

    This method works well, and simple to do with a single person. I used a Neil-Med Sinus Rinse bottle because it allowed me to get a fairly good seal over the valve, and pump plenty of water into the machine, all with a single firm squeeze of the bottle. The method is as described above, turning the machine off after getting the ventilate message, then turning it back on, opening the steam wand, and using the Neil-Med bottle to squeeze water into the machine.


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I also had this problem after putting in a new boiler.
After working my way through some of the soulutions suggested above to no avail an inspiration came to me which had nothing to do with world youth day.
I put the Saeco Stratos into programe mode and re-set it to factory default and presto the problem was fixed.
Goes to show that persistence pays off,( sometimes).


Posted on Jul 20, 2008

  • Lisa Kilkenny
    Lisa Kilkenny Jun 11, 2015

    the reset to factory settings fixed my stuck at ventilate problem!


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When a Ventilate sign appears, it is a warning about reduced water flow through the system. This warning can be due to any one of the following:
1- The machine operated when there was no water in the tank (accidentally or for lack of attention). This feeds air into the pump. Pumps starts to operate louder than normal. If this is so, feed a few drops of water into the pump. A hand pump is supplied with every new machine. Use it to push water into the pump when the pump is operating louder. As soon as the pump resumes normal operating sound, stop the pump. Try and dispense at least 1/2 cup of water from the steam pipe. If successful, the ventilate sign should not and will not appear again.
2- The flow meter is the water meter that registers normal flow of water and also measures the quantity of water flow as programmed for espresso. Flow meter is used in all automatic or semiautomatic espresso machines in which the feature for programming the quantity of espresso is available. If the flow meter register reduced or no water flow, it will trigger display of the ventilate warning message. If so, attention is needed to restore the water flow by descaling the machine & restore water flow. Make sure that descaler used is effective. There are many products recommended or labeled as descaler but they only contain Baking soda. Baking soda is not a descaler. Depending on how long the machine was not descaled it may be necessary to do multiple cycles of descaling to remove accumulated Calcium deposits.
When the ventilate sign is on, the fully automatic espresso machine will not allow to start descaling cycle. In such a case try using the electronic automatic descaling process. If the machine does not allow entry into programming mode, then I am afraid one has to manually clean the flow meter.
There are some Service manuals available for very detailed step by step guidance. Try the following link for several useful free download Maintenance guides one one page. Select the proper brand for the espresso machine you have.
Saeco espresso makers made until 2006 are amongst the Best designed machines. These machines malfunction only because attention to its maintenance was ignored. Owners should simply pay attention to descaling every three months without excuses. Good luck.

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Posted on Oct 18, 2014

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Use the pump that should have came with the machine. Open the steam knob to ventilate while pushing down on the pump.

Make sure the machine is cold when you do this so there is no boiler pressure.

You can find more information and parts on

Johnny Cerini

Posted on Nov 02, 2007

I too had this problem. It came up with the Ventilate message just after I had a double shot of espresso that came out very slowly.

The manual was of no help of course. I followed what someone above suggested, i.e run some hot water out of the machine and that fixed the problem.

Posted on Jun 30, 2008

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