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Problem with SB Barista (Saeco aroma)
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finkbuilt
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Oct 2010
Posts: 2
Location: seattle
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Nov 1, 2010, 1:39pm
Subject: Problem with SB Barista (Saeco aroma)
 

I have a Saeco/BUX Barista that has served me well for the last 8 years or so, But recently it has started giving me "non-op" problems. Before I order all 3 thermostats, and the cut-off, I thought that I would ask here to get opinions as to what the likely bad component might be.

The symptoms are as follows:

Sometimes, the machine will simply show no life. The boiler does not warm up, no lights or sounds at all, nothing.
Other times, it will warm up, but then the whole thing will shut off suddenly, and show a dead state again.  This sudden-death might happen when I open the steam valve, or turn the pump on.

Sometimes it works fine, but oh, those other times are bad news if I have not had my first brew.  

I have checked the switches, wiggled the connectors on all the spades, and checked for broken wires.

I suspect that it is either one of the thermostats, or that little white cutout thingy that is clipped to the boiler.  I searched this forum, but I was not able to find out what common failure point might cause this behavior.

Let me know if you have experience with this type of problem on the Saeco Aroma or SB Barista.

thanks!

-steve
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AndyPanda
Senior Member
AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
Vac Pot: vintage Corey
Drip: AeroPress
Roaster: BreadMachine/HeatGun
Posted Mon Nov 1, 2010, 4:12pm
Subject: Re: Problem with SB Barista (Saeco aroma)
 

The power switch is the most likely suspect.

If it were the safety thermal fuse - it would not be intermittent - when that blows it stays off until you replace it.

If it were the bre thermostat, you would still get lights and pump but the water wouldn't heat.  Same if it were the steam thermostat - you'd still have pump and lights.

Power switches frequently become intermittent and as much as I love Italian cars, motorcycles and espresso - they don't make very good power switches in my experience (and that power switch was probably made in China which is even worse).

You can simply bypass the power switch to test if that solves your problem (you'd need to unplug to turn the machine off).  You might be able to clean the switch with a good electrical cleaner like "deoxit" or  Replace the switch - myself, I'd drill a hole and mount a high quality american made switch that might look out of place but would last.
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finkbuilt
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Oct 2010
Posts: 2
Location: seattle
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Nov 1, 2010, 4:35pm
Subject: Re: Problem with SB Barista (Saeco aroma)
 

AndyPanda Said:

Power switches frequently become intermittent and as much as I love Italian cars, motorcycles and espresso - they don't make very good power switches in my experience (and that power switch was probably made in China which is even worse).

You can simply bypass the power switch to test if that solves your problem (you'd need to unplug to turn the machine off).  You might be able to clean the switch with a good electrical cleaner like "deoxit" or  Replace the switch - myself, I'd drill a hole and mount a high quality american made switch that might look out of place but would last.

Posted November 1, 2010 link

OK, thanks.  Makes sense to me.

I did remove that switch and test it with a meter, but then, since the problem is intermittent, maybe it was "good" while I did the test.

Ironically I have always admired the apparent quality of those switches, with their black bakelite-ish housings and those nifty color-changing dots.

I'll replace it.
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AndyPanda
Senior Member
AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
Vac Pot: vintage Corey
Drip: AeroPress
Roaster: BreadMachine/HeatGun
Posted Tue Nov 2, 2010, 9:07am
Subject: Re: Problem with SB Barista (Saeco aroma)
 

The way power switches usually fail is that the metal to metal contact starts to develop resistance - the metal starts to get a crust from the spark that happens each time the switch is flipped on or off (because there is quite a bit of current that the heater draws).  

Once the contacts start to develop that crust or film, there is some resistance which causes the switch to get hot while the current is passing through the contacts.    So you may test good while the switch is cold - but as the switch heats up it may suddenly stop making contact.  I've even seen the plastic melt in the switch housing so that the contacts sink down into the hot plastic.

You may find that a replacement switch is ridiculously expensive (I had a Gaggia switch fail and the replacement was $70 - so I repaired the old one instead).   So you may want to try cleaning your switch first - I use a contact cleaning chemical I've had for over 30 years (I don't think it's made any longer) which not only removes the oxidation but sticks to the metal and helps keep it from oxidizing again.  I've heard that "deoxit" does the same thing and you should be able to find some and clean your switch for a lot less than buying a new one.

You may be able to spray some contact cleaner into the switch (power cord unplugged please) and then work it back and forth several times - and that may be all you need.  Sometimes there are small holes where you can actually see the metal contacts through the side of the switch -  if you can, then it would be even easier to clean them.
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