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rancillio silvia, weak steamer
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twilkers
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 16
Location: bay area, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Nov 11, 2012, 8:59am
Subject: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

Hi,

had our silvia for a couple years now, awesome machine.  this morning the steaming was weak and I smelled a burnt odor.  the water was very low so I filled it up.  the steamer didn't come back to full strength and the steamed milk tasted burnt.  

can someone guide me through the troubleshooting?  I'm thinking heating element, maybe thermostat.  

my biggest concern is the burnt taste.

thanks,
tim
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D4F
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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,878
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Sun Nov 11, 2012, 1:50pm
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

Burnt odor and taste, and weak steam seem like a wand that is partially clogged with milk.  Take off the tip and try a pipe cleaner in the tube and soak the tip.  You can remove the wand to clean.  Milk can get up into the wand, especially if you allow cooling belore cleaning.

Bad tstat should not smell/taste.  Bad element will often trip GFI.  Start with the wand and report back.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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twilkers
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 16
Location: bay area, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 6:46am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

cleaned wand and replaced.  got some stuff out.  fired it up this morning, after steam light is off, steam is still weak and burnt odor remained.  

additional observation is that the steam pressure degrades quickly (much quicker than before) and the light never comes on as it used to (as the pressure decreased).  sort of seems like a temp sensor is not kicking on the heating element or the element cannot deliver the heating capacity it used to.

what's next?

thanks,
tim
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 7:04am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

Your comment about the water being very low, points to the possibility of a partially melted heater. Just a random thought.
The heaters are easily damaged with low water levels, this could lead to the burnt smell. Or not, check everything and rule out what does not fit.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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earlds
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earlds
Joined: 16 Nov 2003
Posts: 492
Location: Mobile
Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 8:03am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

Wayne, I felt the same way about Bush W. and still do .but I did not see fit to shove my political views down your throat.But since you brought it up I will just point out democracy is hard when you disagree with the currant  elected party,but that doesnt make the other guy a tyrant ,an American President ,by the way is in no position to ever be a tyrant  , .And oh yeh I agree with you ,it sounds like low water levels may have damaged the heating coil .
Don
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JGG
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JGG
Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 1,356
Location: Kentucky, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PID Silvia; PID Alexia
Grinder: Mazzer SJ
Roaster: Hottop D w/HTC+TC4C
Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 8:16am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

Based on what you've reported, I am still leaning toward a plumbing problem.  

The fact that the steam light does not turn back on suggests to me that the temperature/pressure inside the boiler are probably OK.  But replacing the steam thermostat is easy and cheap so might be worth trying as a troubleshooting step.

If your machine is not on a GFI-protected circuit, then I would strongly suggest fixing that situation right away.  If the element is burnt out, a GFI will normally flag this for you immediately.  It might also protect you from a nasty shock if live AC is reaching the machine frame from an exposed nichrome wire inside the boiler.

How long between flipping on the steam switch and steaming temperature reached (indicated by the light turning off)?  My experience is that this takes around 90 seconds if everything is working OK.

Jim
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twilkers
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 16
Location: bay area, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 9:16am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

ok, descaled and it seems to take care of it.  we have never descaled this machine.  how often should we descale?  steam is strong now and no burnt smell.  

unit is on GFI circuit.

is there a relationship between descaling and the steam temp sensor?

thanks for help guys,
tim
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earlds
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earlds
Joined: 16 Nov 2003
Posts: 492
Location: Mobile
Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 9:24am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

I think Jim has the most logical diagnoses on this one ,I jumped on the low boiler trail and overlooked the obvious . Experience is everything .Im lucky to still be on my original sensors after so many years.Much better to have to replace a sensor than a boiler ,thats for sure.
Don
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twilkers
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 16
Location: bay area, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:00am
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

ok, during the post descaling purge, I noted something again.  I was running water through the steamer to get rid of that funky smell/taste so let steam run for a long time.  it would almost run out of steam with significantly reduced pressure and the heat light would not come on.  

there is a faint ordor, not sure if it's burnt or metallic.

ideas?

thanks,
tim
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,878
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:26pm
Subject: Re: rancillio silvia, weak steamer
 

twilkers Said:

I was running water through the steamer to get rid of that funky smell/taste so let steam run for a long time.  it would almost run out of steam with significantly reduced pressure and the heat light would not come on.

Posted November 12, 2012 link

How long steaming, or how much water steamed out?  If you get the water down far enough, you could be overheating the element I believe.  Are you talking longer than normal use?  I would ask you to reproduce and then fill it with water with the wand open and running the pump.  Time the fill.  The pumps will run about 10cc/sec unobstructed, and you get an idea of how empty the boiler was.  I can't advise repeating and risk running it low, but if you find yourself is a similar low steam circumstance, check the fill time.

As far as running water through the steamer, just run the pump with the wand open as opposed to prolonged steaming to low water.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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