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Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
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jgottlieb
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Joined: 26 Oct 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Denver, CO
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 12:41pm
Subject: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

Ok, so I just got done with a big overhaul...  

My machine was not well maintained (my fault) and the boiler died.  I finally got it replaced.  Put humpty-dumpty back together again, and I'm getting really low flow through the grouphead.  in 15 seconds, I only get about 50-60 ml of water.  Flow through the steam wand using the hot water switch is normal.

I tore down the 3-way solenoid during my overhaul and cleaned it (it had gotten choked when the boiler died and spit a ton of grit and sediment all through the machine).

I have tried backflushing.  It works, but very low flow.  It also doesn't sound the same.  When I used to backflush, within a second or two of running the machine, I would hear the pump labor.  Now it doesn't do that.

When just running the pump without a portafilter attached at all, there is water cycling back into the water reservoir at a pretty good rate.

I've also removed the dispersion screen etc and still get very low flow.

So I'm "guessing" at this point that maybe my OPV got clogged up when the boiler died?

I had this similar issue a year or two ago, and when I Google'd around for a fix, there was a sequence that someone had recommended of running the machine, opening the steam wand and something else.  It didn't look like it would fix the issue, but they had described it just how my machine was behaving.  I performed the odd sequence of steps and it fixed it.  From what I assumed it built up some kind of pressure and then when you released the steam wand it blew everything out.  But this was for a grouphead flow issue.  

Of course I can't find the sequence anywhere which is driving me nuts.  I'm thinking maybe there is some grit or something stuck in the OPV and if I could do this little procedure again, it would clear it out.

Anyway, any advice would be greatly appreciated.  After having my machine out of operation for a couple of months, I was VERY excited, as was my wife, of being able to get things back up again.  We are both really frustrated that we are now fighting with yet another issue.

Also, if it is the OPV and no one remembers what that sequence was, is there a way to clean it or break it down?  Or is it a replacement thing?

Thanks,

Joshua
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
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Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 1:44pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

I don't own a Silvia.  But from your description it really sounds like bits of gunk (probably bits of your old heater coil) are stuck in the 3-way valve passageways.

When you replace a Silvia boiler, do you mount that to the old grouphead?  Or does the grouphead come new as part of the boiler?  If the same old grouphead then the water passageways through the 3-way and into the grouphead are all suspect to have blockages.  

On my Gaggia, there are plugs that can be unscrewed to get to those passageways and they could be cleaned out with a paperclip or the like - not sure if similar removable plugs on the Siliva.
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jgottlieb
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Joined: 26 Oct 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Denver, CO
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 2:14pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

So the grouphead was separate.  I cleaned it all out and also cleaned the 3-way before putting it back together.  What I'm wondering is now that I have started running water through the machine again, that it may have gunked up the 3-way again (there was an explosion of gunk and grit when the boiler blew that went into just about every part of the machine.

My big challenge is I don't know whether it's the 3-way or the OPV.

Also an update, if it's helpful, I went back to my machine a little while later after it had cooled down with the idea of pinching the OPV hose and seeing if that might help push the bit of grit free if it was in the OPV.  When I ran the machine from cold, the water flow was fine.  I warmed it up, pulled a shot and it wasn't too bad... but then after the shot, I was back to the same situation.  Tried again a little later after the machine cooled down and water flow was good again.  Not sure what this might mean, but if this was grit, I wouldn't think the temp of the machine would matter...
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
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Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
Vac Pot: vintage Corey
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Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 2:35pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

The OPV probably isn't it - unless you can see that it is bleeding off pump pressure even when trying to pump water out of the steam wand.  If you can pump water into the boiler and out the steam wand.  Then you ought to be able to pump water through the boiler and out the group head at the same rate.

When you are pumping water to the brew head without a PF locked (nothing to hold back the water) and there is barely anything coming out of the group head - is the OPV bleeding a lot of water?   But then if you were to open the steam valve would a high pressure stream of water come out and the OPV then stop bleeding off any water?  If so, then that clearly shows that the 3-way or its passageways in the group are plugged up.  Did you remove the shower head and verify it's not all gunked up with crud?

The only reason to suspect the OPV would be if it is bleeding off water all the time, even when the steam valve is fully open (but then you wouldn't really be seeing much water being pumped out the steam wand either - and I think you said that was working fine) - so that's why I wouldn't suspect the OPV.
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jgottlieb
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Joined: 26 Oct 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Denver, CO
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 2:46pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

It only bleeds water through the OPV when going through the grouphead.  When just bleeding water via the steam wand it works fine.  

I have a feeling when all the water got moving through the machine after the rebuild it may have gotten the 3-way clogged up again.  I would think the backflushing would have fixed that, but maybe I need to tear it down again.

Hmmm....
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
Vac Pot: vintage Corey
Drip: AeroPress
Roaster: BreadMachine/HeatGun
Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 3:43pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

backflushing only clears the path from the brewhead to the drip tray ... it doesn't do anything for the path from the brewhead to the boiler.  (by design - you certainly wouldn't want the coffee slurry on top of the spent puck to backflush into the insides of your boiler at the end of a shot)

When the 3-way is in one position, the boiler is blocked from the brewhead - this is where any pressure in the PF can "backflush" back through the other path from brewhead to driptray.  But there is a whole 'nother passageway from the 3-way to the boiler that the backflush pressure never goes through.

In any event ... usually there is a way to access those passageways (they have to drill the holes in a straight line - then they cap them with threaded plugs) --- at least that's how it is on a Gaggia, I'd expect something similar for the Silvia.  In addition to cleaning the 3-way valve itself, you can verify whether you can blow through the two drilled passageways (with the 3-way removed) that the 3-way routes water through in the grouphead.  One will go to the boiler chamber and the other to the grouphead (and the third just to the drip tray).

It's also possible (likely?) that the passageways are not blocked - but the 3-way valve itself is not moving all the way.  When you are steaming or just idling, the valve is in a position that blocks the passage of water from the boiler to the group (and instead the group is open to the backflush path to the driptray) --- when you start the shot, the 3-way switches to open the passageway from the boiler to the group.  If the valve tries to move and can't open all the way, that could be your problem.
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
Vac Pot: vintage Corey
Drip: AeroPress
Roaster: BreadMachine/HeatGun
Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 4:17pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

I'm attaching a picture I shamelessly ripped from this posting:
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

Notice the two straight tunnels marked A and B .... you would need to remove a screw/plug to clean out line B ... and remove the showerhead to clean out A and then remove the 3-way should give you access to the other two holes - one goes to the standpipe inside the boiler and other other will intersect with line B.  You should be able to fish a wire or paperclip through those holes and blow air through all those passageways.

And inspect the 3-way and clean it while you have it removed.

AndyPanda: 269_sil_watr.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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jgottlieb
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Denver, CO
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 4:36pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

Well I'm happy to report that I got it fixed. It looks like it was a chunk of grit that got into the 3-way. I opted to check the 3-way since that would only take a couple of minutes to tear down. Cleaned it out and the machine is working like a champ!

Thanks to everyone who responded!

Joshua

jgottlieb: Photo May 26, 5 39 06 PM.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 5:56pm
Subject: Re: Silvia - Low Flow Through Grouphead - HELP!
 

Glad to hear you fixed it and photos!

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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