Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:18am Subject: Can't remove vacuum breaker! Did I also mess up the pressure security valve?
Long story short, I got a great condition used used 2006 Expobar Office Pulser. I thought the previous owners had done the regular maintenance but after changing the group gasket and looking under the screen, that was clearly not the case. After cleaning all of that junk, I started to descale the HX and the boiler. HX descale went fine, no Dezcal into the boiler...one thing went right.
I don't plan to regularly descale the boiler but need to do so this time, as I'm sure there is probably buildup in there. I've done the reading on different ways to go about this and found out that the location of the boiler fill level sensors in my Expobar makes it such that tilting the machine will not allow for boiler overfill. If I'm only going to do this once (maybe once a year), I want to get the whole boiler descaled. I would also like to get a look inside the boiler to see what's going on just to have a baseline for future knowledge. I decided that removing the vacuum breaker was the best option for me--syphon the water out (I'll be sure to note exactly how much I syphon out so I can refill properly), add back in Dezcal solution and let sit for the majority of a day (it will be room temp so I'll give it some extra time). Then syphon out, refill with fresh water and so forth till the boiler is clean, then refill the proper amount and seal it back up...pretty simple. (Tell me if that's not right).
So I could not get the vacuum breaker nut off with a ratchet. I was putting some muscle into it, to the point that I felt the whole boiler move with my arm...not significantly, and without any permanent bending, but enough to get me to stop. My ratchet handle is short so I may just need a longer handle to generate a little more torque but I'm quite worried about ripping something else out. I would like to clean the breaker valve as well, as there is some slight, albeit probably insignificant noise when the boiler is up to pressure...good maintenance anyway. Any advice here?
Here is my second problem--and I feel like an absolute idiot. I thought that I could probably get into the boiler via the pressure relief security valve, which piggybacks off the fitting for the steam tube leading to steam arm on my machine. So I unscrewed the top of it. Just to be clear, in case I'm naming this incorrectly, here is the part I unscrewed:
After realizing that I couldn't get a syphon tube into the boiler this way (at least without further deconstruction) I put it back together. If you look at the picture in the link, I unscrewed the top cap of that fitting that has the pin popping out of it, which meets the thin hex-nut you can see towards the top of that picture. This is partially covered by the small circular copper piece also visibile in the image (the whole piece has some writing on it and the logo of a cube, the area I unscrewed is just above where that writing is for reference). Just to be clear, I did not unscrew this entire fitting from the boiler. During this process, that little circular copper piece came off. It appears that the copper circle has a little nub (for lack of a better word) that just pierces the threads of the cap that I unscrewed. This leads me to believe it's a security measure to either let someone know if the piece has been removed, or to prevent someone from removing it in the first place. Either way, I screwed everything back in, and it is now missing the little copper circle. As of right now, when the boiler is up to temp there is no steam escape from that fitting (which I believe is normal, as I'm pretty sure my boiler pressure is normal). Here are my concerns:
*That I changed a setting on the security relief valve and as a result, my boiler will explode in the event of over-heating. *That the opposite happened and it will vent pressure when it shouldn't (as I said, this doesn't seem to be the case right now). *That mucked up anything else related to that valve.
The good news is that it is only a $20 part so if you tell me just to replace it, I'll go ahead and do that.
Whew...so much for brevity. All help is appreciated.
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014, 3:35pm Subject: Re: Did I also mess up the pressure security valve?
First off as for filling the boiler- You should be able to disconnect the wire to the fill sensor, which will allow you to fill as far as you want (until it comes out the steam wand?).
As for the other- My guess is that you are correct in thinking you've changed the adjustment. possibly you can look thru the hole and see where it was adjusted based on discoloration. I would probably try that for a temporary fix but then I've been known to do things others aren't comfortable with to say the least. Something that light would be fairly inexpensive to overnight.
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014, 5:12pm Subject: Re: Can't remove vacuum breaker! Did I also mess up the pressure...
Thanks for the advice. I'll track down some info on exactly how to disconnect the wire to the fill sensor and get the boiler to fill. I thought that might be an option but I was unsure of how the boiler would react after the fact--as in will it automatically correct itself to the right level if I just purge through the water tap until its below the level.
I'll take a closer look at the valve I messed with later and see if I can determine where it was set to. Argh...why must I fiddle?
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014, 6:43pm Subject: Re: Did I also mess up the pressure security valve?
possibly you can look thru the hole and see where it was adjusted based on discoloration. I would probably try that for a temporary fix but then I've been known to do things others aren't comfortable with to say the least.
This shed some light on the issue. Within the first 2 minutes of this video, Bill Crossland says what that little copper marking is. Indeed, it's a market from the factor to show where the valve needs to be set too. I should be able to see where it was based on discoloration. I'll take the valve off again to examine the spring inside to make sure I didn't mess anything up before reinstalling.
Posted Mon Apr 21, 2014, 1:37am Subject: Re: Did I also mess up the pressure security valve?
For the fill sensor you should be able to simply unplug the wire from the top of the sensor. When you reconnect it the boiler will then fill to the proper level (provided you don't move the sensor height disconnecting and connecting). I can't say whether the water tap will bring the water level below the heating element, you may want to disconnect that as well if there's any chance the elements will be exposed. If you have an owners manual then following the directions for first use should have you covered there. You don't want the element on if it isn't covered with water.
skydragondave Senior Member Joined: 18 Feb 2013 Posts: 167 Location: Ontario, Canada Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Commercial Only Grinder: Commercial Only Roaster: Has Garanti HG5
Posted Mon Apr 21, 2014, 4:19pm Subject: Re: Did I also mess up the pressure security valve?
Your best bet to properly descale a commercial boiler is to remove it and all the related water contact parts like fittings, tubes, and valves, and immerse them in a commercial descaling solution like Calcinet or citric acid. If you're just using a packet of Dezcal like on the home machines you are likely to cause a lot of particulates to drop into the boiler water and eventually find their way into valves and orifices. It's not something you can ever rinse out completely using th emethods you're describing. You may find after a good soak in an acid bath that mineralization on the exposed threads of the vacuum breaker will dissolve, allowing you to remove it without danger of breaching the solder joint in the boiler from overtorquing. Copper is very soft, and if you're applying that much pressure, you are in danger of damaging the boiler for sure. As for the boiler safety valve, the copper seal is not a marker; it's a seal to hold its adjustment so that it can't be altered. Though breaking the seal alone doesn't destroy a safety valve, it is an eventual wear item that most manufacturers recommend to replace every two years at minimum, because the rubber seal degrades and eventually causes a slow leak. Overtightening the adjustment to stop a hardened valve seat from hissing definitely puts the boiler at risk of explosion in an emergency, so you are best to replace the valve with a new calibrated and sealed one (about $40). If you buy the cheap one that isn't calibrated, you can calibrate it yourself with a pressure regulator and gauge to 2.1BAR. If you don't already have these items, you're at about the same cost or more; so buy the good one.
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