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Silvia boiler problems - feel free to steer me to pre-existing content...
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Discussions > Espresso > Espresso Mods > Silvia boiler...  
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methodius
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Chemex
Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 10:45am
Subject: Silvia boiler problems - feel free to steer me to pre-existing content...
 

I bought a Silvia about 7 years ago that worked wonderfully for a long time.  Then about two years ago the boiler ran dry for a second during descaling - the water ran out and I shut off the machine immediately, but it had blown.  I bought this from a really well-regarded roaster/retailer, but their out-of-warranty customer service regarding this machine has been indifferent at best, even when I offered to pay them to look they refused...and then I feel like I was kind of left to the wolves:  They recommended me to an unaffiliated repairer, who shall also go nameless and provided the worst customer service I have ever encountered - unbelievable.  And now, a year after the repair, the boiler is blown again - this time with plenty of water in it.  I'm not made of money, and if I cough up for another boiler replacement, I will have paid for them machine all over again by that point.  I won't throw out the machine, but I am wondering if it will ever work again the way it did out of the box - or if it will just keep eating money and time.  And I have to say that I live in one of the three largest cities in the country and I cannot BELIEVE how few options there are for help on consumer machines that are out of warranty.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,082
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 Wed Dec 26, 2012, 1:18pm
Subject: Re: Silvia boiler problems - feel free to steer me to pre-existing content...
 

Have you contacted Rancilio directly?  Usually the best path is the manufacturer.  Espressoparts.com is great for parts if you decide to do the repair yourself.  I would also check the power feeding to your machine.  Also are you frothing large amounts of milk? This may run too much of the water out of the boiler before refilling.  I am looking for the max amount I am able to froth with the Silvia myself.  I think anything more than 16oz of milk will drop the water level low enough to expose too much of  the boiler.  causing it to overheat and blow.  If your running it dry then I would be thatís the problem.  I would pop off the top and test the element with a multi meter.  If you don't get a solid current then you will need to replace the element.  FYI the boiler + element is cheaper than the element on its own.  Espressoparts.com has it for $96.  Personally if you have almost dished out the money for another machine I would just upgrade at this point.   7 Years is a long time for a machine.
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JGG
Senior Member
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 Wed Dec 26, 2012, 5:16pm
Subject: Re: Silvia boiler problems - feel free to steer me to pre-existing content...
 

Welcome, methodius.

I apologize in advance if I have read things into your post that are not there!  But I can't  help wonder if you appreciate the difference between running the boiler dry, versus running the water reservoir dry?

Running the water reservoir dry is inconvenient, but fairly harmless.  The design of the Silvia is such that you cannot run the boiler dry using the pump, even if the water reservoir is empty.

What damages the heating element is failing to "manually" refill the boiler after each and every steaming session.  Steaming releases water from the boiler while the pump is off, so the water level will temporarily be low in the boiler after steaming.  Running the pump until liquid comes out of the grouphead or steam wand effectively refills the boiler.  This must be done every time you steam milk.

Perhaps you have been a little lax in refilling the boiler after steaming?  If so, then that explains the two heater failures, and also suggests that you will have better luck the third time if you become more aware of the need to refill after steaming.

Jim
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 976
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:36pm
Subject: Re: Silvia boiler problems - feel free to steer me to pre-existing content...
 

JGG Said:

What damages the heating element is failing to "manually" refill the boiler after each and every steaming session.  Steaming releases water from the boiler while the pump is off, so the water level will temporarily be low in the boiler after steaming.  Running the pump until liquid comes out of the grouphead or steam wand effectively refills the boiler.  This must be done every time you steam milk.

Posted December 26, 2012 link

^ This.

The boiler's not that expensive and it's relatively easy to replace.
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methodius
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Chemex
Posted Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:51pm
Subject: Re: Silvia boiler problems - feel free to steer me to pre-existing content...
 

Thanks for your responses!  I've read up on this machine quite a bit over time and have somehow never come across the need to do a manual boiler refill after steaming - but it makes sense and, yes, seems a likely culprit.  I sometimes primed the water back up after steaming, but not always - wish I had known sooner.  I probably will try to replace the boiler myself at some point when I have the time. Thanks again -
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