If you like the idea of making foolproof cups of espresso from packets of coffee, you may have a Nespresso machine, which does just that. The idea for Nespresso originated in Switzerland, and although Nespresso has a U.S. headquarters, the design and construction of Nespresso machines shows European influence.

When a Nespresso stops working, the problem could be a blocked water tube, a short circuit or a mechanical malfunction in the lever system. You may have to remove the sides of the machine to fix it, and there you encounter your first problem.

Those Oval Screws!

If your repair involves anything that requires access to the interior of the machine, you'll have to remove four idiosyncratic ovals screws to remover the side coverings. The screws lack slots and have oval heads that won't fit a conventional screwdriver. You can order a proprietary screwdriver online, or you can make your own from a plastic ball-point pen barrel. Heat the barrel until it's warm enough to be pliable, then fit it over one of the screw heads, let the plastic harden and remove it. The screws are easy to remove with this homemade tool.

Internal Repairs

Once you've unplugged the machine, emptied the water reservoir and taken out the four oval screws at the bottom of the machine and removed the sides, you can make these repairs:

  • Restore operation of the lever -- If the lever that pierces the coffee packet is stuck, you can remove the entire lever assembly by removing a series of Phillips screws. Once the assembly is off, clear out any debris inside it or replace any broken parts.
  • Check and replace electronic components -- If the machine won't turn on, the fault is often because a thermal breaker has blown. Check the circuit diagram for your machine to locate it. Since the appliance is unplugged, you can conduct a continuity test and replace the part, if necessary.
  • Clean the switch -- If yours is an older model with a push-button switch and the switch is malfunctioning, it probably needs to be cleaned. Take the switch out, but don't sever the electric contacts. Clean the terminals and all exposed metal parts with a cotton swab soaked with alcohol.
  • Clear out debris -- Your machine may be malfunctioning because insects have gotten into the circuitry and either died there or left deposits. Clear them away with an artists' paint brush.
  • Service the water tubes -- If you don't descale the machine frequently, mineral deposits may block the water intake tube. Clear these with a long bamboo poker. You may also have to free a stuck check valve that is preventing the machine from drawing water from the reservoir. Use the poker to do this, or pump air into the tubes with a syringe.