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Gaggia Coffee pressure relief always spitting out a bit into the water tank?
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ben_albert
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Joined: 16 Jun 2012
Posts: 2
Location: Mississauga
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Jun 16, 2012, 8:21pm
Subject: Gaggia Coffee pressure relief always spitting out a bit into the water tank?
 

I'm new to the forum and this is my first post!

I've always had machines with a 3-way solenoid (Classic Coffee and Silvia) but now just bought an old Gaggia Coffee as a gift for my father (this one here http://www.partsguru.com/user/ER0077-01.PDF) and I'm a little bit confused about the apparent constant pressure relief on this model.

It seems to always be spitting out a little bit of steam and water back into the water tank. Is this normal, expected behaviour? The return hose is getting extremely hot. The volume coming out of the hose is small but consistent and makes a bit of a sputtering sound.

I've taken the steam valve assembly apart and all parts seem to be OK - the rubber ball looks fine and there are no machine leaks.

Any advice is appreciated.. thanks!
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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 Jun 16, 2012, 9:20pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee pressure relief always spitting out a bit into the water tank?
 

There is a little device on the Steam Valve (probably what you looked at, you said "rubber ball") -  some machines have it and some machines don't.  Most people hate having it spit hot water back into the water tank so they plug the valve and the newer Gaggias all come with it plugged from the factory.

The valve is, essentially, a one way valve that was designed, on purpose, to leak a little bit. The check ball is made of a flexible material and the seat it seals against has two grooves in it designed to leak a little.  But under high pressure (when you are pulling the shot) the ball compresses into the grooves and seals the leak. Here is the purpose of that valve ---  well actually it has two purposes.

One purpose is so that you can prime the boiler without opening the steam valve. (Some people call it the "Self Prime Valve")

The other purpose is in case you forget and leave your steam wand in the milk pitcher and let the boiler cool down, it won't be able to suck the milk up the steam wand and into your boiler. (Some people call it the "Anti Syphon Valve")

Neither of those two things happen very often and both are easily managed by simply opening your steam valve when you want to prime the pump/top off the boiler .... and by not leaving your steam wand in a pitcher full of milk and turning off the machine.

It does make it really easy to top off the boiler - so that is an advantage to keeping it.

It is mostly harmless ... and it is easy to plug if you decide it bugs you that much.  And if you plug it, you'll end up with a spare hose and the advantage of one less hose dangling in your water tank.  Some people buy a brass plug and force it in (threads won't match) - You could just file the groove smooth so the check ball seals - or turn a screw into the nipple (or fill it with epoxy). There are many ways to plug the thing - or just leave it and ignore it.

AndyPanda: SteamValve.jpg
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fwtechwiz
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Joined: 19 Feb 2010
Posts: 530
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Evolution
Grinder: Hario Skerton
Posted Sun Jun 17, 2012, 3:23pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee pressure relief always spitting out a bit into the water tank?
 

One additional thing that needs to be said.. when this 'self priming valve' leaks, or fails completely and sends that hot water and steam back into the reservoir, the vibe pump could be damaged by the hot water going through it.  For most, plugging that valve is a 'must do' in order to save wear and tear on the pump.
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ben_albert
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Joined: 16 Jun 2012
Posts: 2
Location: Mississauga
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jun 18, 2012, 6:36pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee pressure relief always spitting out a bit into the water tank?
 

Thanks very much for the replies. This is really good information that I couldn't find online. For now I've left it as-is.

I'm surprised I couldn't find any information about this elsewhere online... perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough.
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