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Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
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aab1
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Joined: 29 Aug 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010, 11:00am
Subject: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

I got a used Solis Palazzo super automatic machine on the internet for $130 to try and fix.

The user said problems started when it was filling his cup only halfway, so he ran water with a bit of CLR in it to descale it and rinsed it but the machine ended up clogging completely and no longer has any water flow at all either through the coffee spouts or the hot water wand.

I haven't received it yet but am hoping I can get some tips on where to start to attempt to clean it when I get it.

Is there any hope for a chemical (decalcifying agent) method to work if it's completely clogged or will this require taking it apart?

If I have to take it apart where should I start looking for the problem, is the clog most likely in the boiler or in the piping or elsewhere?

How are the pipes connected inside one of these? Is it with something that allows me to disconnect and reconnect them to clean them all?

Thanks for any help, I hope I can get this machine working without having to pay for professional repairs. If it did have to be professionally repaired how much can I expect this to cost?

Thanks
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clumeng
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Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010, 5:43am
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

caveat emptor

I think your only hope is to contact the manufacturer or find a shop that works on solis machines (good luck with that)

I've known people who purchase 2 super autos due to how often these things break and need to be fixed.
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aab1
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Joined: 29 Aug 2010
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Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010, 10:48am
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

I'm good at fixing stuff there hasn't been many things I haven't been able to fix, I recently fixed a color business copier and a roomba robotic vacuum.

Does anyone know if the plumbing in these uses standard fittings I can get at a hardware store or are they different from regular plumbing? Can I disconnect the pipes and reconnect them without having to buy new fittings?

Thanks
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c4h5n2o
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Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010, 9:55pm
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

If you are comfortable troubleshooting and repairing copiers & robotic vacuums, then the same principles will apply to super auto machines.

Try pulling a shot yourself, does it work? Take the cover off, look for any clogs & clean them out. Descale, does the pump run? Is anything binding or making strange noises, anything obviously amiss? Read the manual from cover to cover.. it should have at least a token troubleshooting section and some guidance on disassembly & general operation. Test the micro switches, lube the o-rings, pay particular attention to the brew group mechanism. There will be a pump, perhaps a grinder and some motorized or sliding mechanisms. There will be lots of plastic parts that are apt to break if not handled gently. Most of the tubing will probably be press on or barb style. On the high pressure side, you may find a some hose clamps or threaded fittings.

Super autos are finicky and have lots of um.. less than durable parts. The better models will usually go several years at a time without needing service & might (if you're lucky) have a lifespan of 5 - 10 years if serviced periodically. But they aren't going to last 30 years like a Cimbali junior (semi-automatic machine) will. Probably you need to clean some parts, descale, unjam something, perhaps replace a few o-rings & a membrane & hopefully be in business. OTOH, if you're unlucky, it may need major service that is prohibitively expensive. Perhaps $100 to have someone else fix it (mostly labour) if it just needs cleaning and minor fiddling with the brew group & valve mechanism. $75 - $100 an hour plus parts if the problem is more serious.

I have no idea if you can fix the one you have.. but since you have it, have a look inside and see what you find. You might also want to find out if Solis has a "head office" in Canada or the U.S. that might repair it for a flat fee - which may be reasonable. Otherwise, caveat emptor & good luck trying to fix it.

.
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aab1
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Location: Canada
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Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010, 11:02pm
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

Thanks for the detailed reply that's the kind of answer I was looking for.

I don't have the machine yet, I just ordered it this past weekend, it should be here in a week or so.

The seller said the problem was scale that likely clogged it after he ran CLR through it, he said everything runs as it should including the pump but no water comes out. So if it is clogged to the point where flow is completely blocked is there any way to get descaling solution in it or will I have to take it apart and try to find the clog or get the descale solution in from somewhere inside?

Even if it costs me $200 to fix it I'll be happy, that would still be close to $1000 off the MSRP.
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c4h5n2o
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Posted Tue Aug 31, 2010, 5:16am
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

The seller may be forthright or might be spinning you a tale. If he is being up front about what happened, CLR might have dislodged enough scale and coffee grounds to create a clog. CLR is potentially corrosive, so it may have damaged some metal parts, gaskets or membranes in the brew path. Or the problem may have nothing to do with CLR at all.

Contact Solis and find out if a flat rate repair is offered & whether it is an affordable option. You could also find out who services Solis or super auto machines locally & get an estimate. If you are comfortable poking around inside machines, you can try to fix it yourself first. I'd want to visually check for clogs & clear those & other obvious issues before trying to descale. Is there an inline filter that might be clogged? Check that any accessible valves/solenoids work. Rinse the brew mechanism with a lot of clear water, check that the tubing is not obstructed, confirm that the pump works. The boiler or thermoblock on a super auto will be small and is probably a sealed unit. But you can at least check that water goes in, comes out & heats. If water flows up to the brew head but no further, then it's likely that the problem is in the brew head. If it's still not working, read the manual, check the micro switches, o-rings & general mechanical operation.

If you were able to clear the clog or otherwise get water moving through the brew path, then you can feed descaler via the reservoir. I'd try something milder like citric acid or vinegar, rather than CLR. If you can't establish water flow, you may have to settle for soaking the brew group in citric acid, followed by flushing with clear water. Keep in mind that this is general advice only. I am not a Solis expert and I haven't seen your machine. If you don't know how to work around electricity safely or don't have a general understanding of what I'm talking about then you'd be better off having Solis or a local shop fix it for you.

.
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CoffeeRoastersClub
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Posted Tue Aug 31, 2010, 8:49am
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

aab1 Said:

I got a used Solis Palazzo super automatic machine on the internet for $130 to try and fix.

The user said problems started when it was filling his cup only halfway, so he ran water with a bit of CLR in it to descale it and rinsed it but the machine ended up clogging completely and no longer has any water flow at all either through the coffee spouts or the hot water wand.

I haven't received it yet but am hoping I can get some tips on where to start to attempt to clean it when I get it.

Is there any hope for a chemical (decalcifying agent) method to work if it's completely clogged or will this require taking it apart?

If I have to take it apart where should I start looking for the problem, is the clog most likely in the boiler or in the piping or elsewhere?

How are the pipes connected inside one of these? Is it with something that allows me to disconnect and reconnect them to clean them all?

Thanks for any help, I hope I can get this machine working without having to pay for professional repairs. If it did have to be professionally repaired how much can I expect this to cost?

Thanks

Posted August 29, 2010 link

I know that Krups sells descaling powder and cleaning tablets for the superauto I have from them.  Possibly the maker of yours has the same; or I cannot see why you couldn't use the Krups tablets.

Len

 
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aab1
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Joined: 29 Aug 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Aug 31, 2010, 3:13pm
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

I have a very good feeling the seller is being completely honest because at first he refused to sell it because it wasn't working and didn't want someone to buy a defective machine (although he had clearly stated it had a problem). I had to convince him to sell it to me even though it was broken.

He said that some of the CLR was flushed out and if you say these don't have a large boiler than it's likely most of it came out, it was also an 8:1 dilution to start with. He also said the steam/hot water wand also has no flow so the block will likely be before wherever it splits into those two sections. This machine has 2 thermoblocks so does this mean the clog would be before both thermoblocks?

I did buy Dezcal descaler, the manual says not to use vinegar as it can damage the machine (anyone know why?)

As I said I've fixed very complex machines before so if this is something that can be fixed with parts I can buy then I should be able to fix it myself.

If ever I can't fix it myself how would I find a local place that repairs these? Normally the manual has a list of service centers but the manual for this machine is very short and doesn't have this information.

Thanks
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c4h5n2o
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c4h5n2o
Joined: 19 Jul 2005
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Location: Vancouver
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Posted Tue Aug 31, 2010, 3:43pm
Subject: Re: Bought a used & clogged super automatic espresso machine, how do I fix it?
 

aab1 Said:

how would I find a local place that repairs these?

Posted August 31, 2010 link

When you call Solis to ask if there is a flat rate repair, also ask them if they have any service centers or authorized shops in your area. Also check the yellow pages under espresso or coffee equipment/repair/supply. See if anyone lists Solis as a brand that they service. Or just call anyone local who services espresso machines & ask them if they work with Solis. If not, they should be able to tell you who does.

.
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