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Rancilio Silvia Care Question
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kathyr
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Alberta, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Roaster: Fratello
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 12:00pm
Subject: Rancilio Silvia Care Question
 

I'm new to Coffee Geek, but not to Miss Silvia.  We had to replace our original Silvia after eight (great!) years.  The new Silvia is just a baby--only two years old.  And we've just had to replace her heating element, something I DON'T want to have to do again soon!  Some info about our typical usage:
- we use distilled water because our tap water is very hard and I hate having to descale so frequently;
- we're a two-latte-a-day family (so not particularly heavy use);
- I haven't been back flushing because that was a no-no with the old Miss Silvia (and because I'm lazy);  
- Silvia was performing great right up to the morning when I turned her on and there was no heat (checked the thermostat circuit breaker, and it wasn't tripped).

So what can I do to prevent a recurrence of this expensive breakdown?  Any ideas gratefully accepted.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,090
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 12:35pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia Care Question
 

How much milk are you frothing?  If you are frothing a large amount of milk (more than 14oz) in one shot your running your boiler dry causing your heat element to overheat.  Moving forward I strongly recommend back flushing.  Your coffee will taste better and you wont put a strain on the internals of your machine. Also make sure you are refilling the boiler right after steaming and not leaving the boiler half dry. Even partial heat element exposure can overheat and damage the element.
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kathyr
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Alberta, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Roaster: Fratello
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 12:53pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia Care Question
 

I'm frothing right around 16 oz. in one shot.  So now come the dumb questions:  I always make sure the reservoir is full when I start making lattes, but how does the water in the reservoir relate to what's in the boiler itself?  And how do I ensure there's enough water in the boiler?  (Because I suspect from what you've said that that is a problem:  I froth 16 oz. of milk and then move right on to pulling four shots of espresso.)  And I will begin back flushing, I promise.  Thanks so much for all the info!
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,090
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 1:53pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia Care Question
 

They are separate. Keep the reservoir full as well as the boiler. The Silvia is a manual refill machine. It doesn't have auto refill like other machines out there. Every time you steam you need to flip the water switch and open the steam valve until you get a steady stream of water coming out of the steam knob.  Once your getting all water out of the steam knob the boiler is refilled.  So yes it sounds like your running the boiler dry.  I think you can stretch 16 oz in one steam but I would recommend no more than 12-14 oz.  Just refill the boiler right after steaming.

My latte routine is backwards and might help you.  I brew first and froth second.  Refills the boiler faster too.  I've noticed better tasting shots this way. I find the shots taste better when brewing first for a latte.  Another plus to this is the milk isn't sitting there separating while your brewing espresso.  Finally if you really need to stretch the Silvia's steaming to produce enough for 4 drinks you should look into a PID with steam functionality.  I've read it adds steaming power which will get your drinks out and boiler refilled by you faster. :)

PS: Rancilio warns not to steam more than 12 oz of milk.  Going any further is risking overheating the boiler.
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kathyr
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Alberta, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Roaster: Fratello
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 4:27pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia Care Question
 

Interestingly, I only switched to this order (froth first, brew second) in the last three or so months.  Up to then, I had been brewing first, then frothing.  And now I'm not sure I even remember why I made that change.  But I'll be switching back as you suggest.  And I'll be much more careful about ensuring the boiler is refilled so I don't overheat the machine again.  I can see some behavior mods in my immediate future!  Silvia just came home today, and I'm sure if she could, she'd thank you for all the great info you've shared.
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Rancilio Silvia - How to
Step by step guide for easy brewing and steaming with the Rancilio Silvia
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