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Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
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Discussions > Espresso > Espresso Mods > Rancilio Sylvia...  
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arcady
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arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
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Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
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Posted Thu Jul 7, 2011, 10:49am
Subject: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

As of this morning my Sylvia, about 3 years old, seems to have stopped steaming.

I can brew espresso, and the steam wand will produce hot water when I turn on the water nozzle. But when I set it to steam nothing happens - neither steam nor water will come out.

Wondering what might have gone wrong and what I can do to repair it?
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calblacksmith
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Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Posted Thu Jul 7, 2011, 11:31am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

I have never used/operated or taken apart a RS but off of the top of my pointie little head, I would think that a switch has gone bad. I am ASSUMING that the water pump is electric and is switch operated.

If your steam switch turns on both the second thermostat AND the water pump, AND both brew and hot water operations work properly otherwise, then it would seem that the switch used to set the machine up for steaming has gone bad.

If it were the water pump, you would not be able to brew. If it were the heater, it would not get hot to brew with. The only other circuit is the one that lets you steam. This involves the water pump (good) heater(also good) and the second, steam temp thermostat and a switch. Either the switch is bad or it is the thermostat. If it were the thermostat, you would not steam but you would still turn the motor on thus getting hot water from the wand, if it were the switch, you would get neither when you press the switch.

If I am off base on my assumptions, I am sorry and NEVERMIND ;<}

 
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arcady
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arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Does a French Press count?...
Roaster: iRoast II
Posted Thu Jul 7, 2011, 12:02pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Actually that theory makes a lot of sense.

I've got the lid off of the unit at the moment and looking down in there I believe I could swap the leads between the water pump and steamer switches and thereby isolate between your two ideas of what might be wrong.

Sounds like a weekend project. Hope its the switch because I can see where that's located and its probably the cheaper of the two to fix or replace.
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JGG
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JGG
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Espresso: PID Silvia; PID Alexia
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Posted Thu Jul 7, 2011, 12:48pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

calblacksmith Said:

If your steam switch turns on both the second thermostat AND the water pump ...

Posted July 7, 2011 link

Logical, but not factual ;-)

The steam switch on the Silvia simply creates a jumper circuit that bypasses the brew thermostat.  With the brew thermostat effectively out of the loop, the boiler temperature is controlled only by the steam thermostat.

First step in troubleshooting this problem is to observe if the orange light next to the power switch turns on when the steam switch is flipped (it should).  If the orange light does not turn on, then either the switch is bad or the steam thermostat is bad.

If the orange light turns on and stays on, but the boiler does not reach proper steaming temperature, then the heating element is probably on its way out.

arcady Said:

I've got the lid off of the unit at the moment and looking down in there I believe I could swap the leads between the water pump and steamer switches and thereby isolate between your two ideas of what might be wrong.

Posted July 7, 2011 link

DO NOT swap the leads. That will not tell you anything, and might actually cause more problems.  If you need to test the steam switch directly, then unplug the machine, pull the wires off the back of the switch, and test it for continuity using a DMM.

Have you checked to see if the steam wand is clogged?  If neither hot water nor steam will come out, then the wand may be partially clogged.

Jim
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frcn
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frcn
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Posted Thu Jul 7, 2011, 12:53pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Hot water does not come out of the wand during the steam mode and the pump is not meant to operate in steam mode.

Since all electricity always passes through the steam thermostat in all modes (until steaming temperature is reached) we can safely assume that the steam thermostat is working. You can cehck my semi-interactive Silvia wiring diagrams here.

TO test this:
1 - UNPLUG Silvia from the mains power.
2 - Open the case and disconnect the two wires on the steam switch (not the black wire- the other two. See the wiring diagram linked above).
3 - electrically connect the two wires together and insulate.
4 - close case
5 - plug Silvia in and turn on.
Machine is now in "permanent" steam mode. Once you verify that you get good steam now, reverse the above steps and order a new steam switch.

 
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arcady
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arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Does a French Press count?...
Roaster: iRoast II
Posted Fri Jul 8, 2011, 1:01pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Hot water will come out of the wand when I flip the 'Hot Water Switch' on.

Hot water comes out of the brewer when I flip the brew switch.

Nothing comes out when I flip the steam switch. Though if I leave the switch on for a while, a -very small- amount of water falls out when I later open the wand's valve.

Have to try closing the circuit on the steam switch. Going to attempt that tonight (a little hard to get down in there - and I've got to find where I've placed my insulating tape).
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,405
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Fri Jul 8, 2011, 2:01pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Before you open the thing again, let's try this:
- Turn the machine on and let it warm up fully - say for about twenty minutes.
- Now watch the machine and wait for the Main Power light go off.
- When the light goes off, immediately turn on the steam switch. Does the main power light go back on?
   -  If NO, then the switch is probably bad
   -  If YES, then wait for it to go off, and then open the steam valve. There should be a blast of hot water and then steam and the main power light will go back on again.

 
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JGG
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JGG
Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 1,377
Location: Kentucky, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PID Silvia; PID Alexia
Grinder: Mazzer SJ
Roaster: Hottop D w/HTC+TC4C
Posted Fri Jul 8, 2011, 2:48pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Edit:  re-read Randy's post and realized I had basically repeated it.

Jim
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,405
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Fri Jul 8, 2011, 2:56pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

JGG Said:

Edit:  re-read Randy's post and realized I had basically repeated it.

Posted July 8, 2011 link

Great minds think alike, Jim!  ;-)

 
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arcady
Senior Member
arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Does a French Press count?...
Roaster: iRoast II
Posted Fri Jul 8, 2011, 10:52pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Got the steam switch shorted out right now - connected those 2 wires. Doesn't seem to be doing anything. Curiously I can -STILL- use the brewer and hot water functions while the steam switch is shorted out.


Both before and after I did this the main orange light next to the power switch never went out even after being on for over an hour.

Before circumventing the steamer switch - flipping it on/off -would- turn on/off the little round orange light right on it.

The water that I get in steam mode is more like a drop or two that accumulates - but never builds up. If I release it it will accumulate again, but if not it won't grow in pressure or become more than those few drops.

Guess I need to start finding a repair center in the San Francisco area - if its more than a switch.
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