Busted Boiler

Did something go wrong? Ask about it here. Later report and document the resolution here including out of pocket costs for replacement parts.
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StuBaby
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Busted Boiler

Post by StuBaby » Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:46 am

Crap, my Spaz didn't last even one month. Ordered it Dec 13, arrived Dec 18, plumbed and wired Dec 19, on everyday for an average of four hours except Jan 10-14 while I was out of town and it was unplugged. It worked fine the last 4 days, no signs of potential demise. So, that's only 24 days of use :evil:

I woke up this morning, timer had already turned Spaz on, but the cups on the warming tray were cooler than usual. I pushed the hot water button to preheat. The solenoid responded but no sound of flowing water anywhere, and not a drop of water from the spiget. The boiler indicator light was on. I looked at the gauge, no pressure.

The group boiler works and I have espresso, but no Capps, no Americanas, no rinsing :cry:

I'm bummed :x And, yes, I know, I have to call Chris'.

Thanks in advance for your words of comfort and support.

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StuBaby
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Follow-up #1

Post by StuBaby » Fri Jan 19, 2007 1:49 pm

Spoke to Roger today ( tech @ ChrisCoffee), very nice, very helpful. He was perplexed that red boiler light stayed steady even though gauge read no pressure and that the boiler alarm didn't go off. He asked if he could call me back in a little bit so he could investigate further. He called me back within the hour and the consensus is that the pressure sensor (or maybe temperature sensor, I can't remember) is "stuck" and signalling to board that hot water is up to temp and therefore no need for heating. Here is what he suggested:
1. Take off top, unplug machine
2. Find center of boiler, there should be two prongs with red plastic sleeve insulators zip tied together. This is the sensor in question
3. Remove zip tie, slide back sleaves, and disconnect one connection only.
4. Plug in and turn on machine.

If the sensor doohickee is the problem, then, since it's been disconnected, the boiler light should start flashing and then the alarm will go off. If that's the case, then he'll just send me another sensor in the mail.

woodchuck

Post by woodchuck » Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:40 pm

Let's all keep our fingers crossed for a stuck sensor!

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chas
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Post by chas » Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:19 pm

Fortunately, if it's the sensor itself that's a pretty easy replacement. Let us know how it comes out. It looks like you go down in history as the first one to report a VII Early failure!
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StuBaby
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Post by StuBaby » Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:45 pm

It looks like you go down in history as the first one to report a VII Early failure!
Story of my life...

But I recall someone here with an exploding VII as soon as he plugged it in.

Too bad the forum took a hit, there were some great threads happening.

Niko

Post by Niko » Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:20 pm

Stubaby,
Really sorry to see this thread about your VII.
Hang in there bud.
And for the record, I do remember that guy (Italyhound I think-he'll correct me if I'm wrong)) whose machine was basically DOA.
I proabably wouldn't count that as a failure since it never ever really worked in his possession. I think it was some pinched wiring from shipping damage.
Take care, keep us posted...
BTW, what's the update now?

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Post by chas » Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:21 pm

Day 1 failures go in a different category. You're the first one where their VII machine worked out of the box and then broke later.

The exploding S1 reminded me of my Isomac Tea. After a couple of months I got tired of the pour over and purchased a direct plumb-in kit from Chris. When I was screwing the covers back on I apparently pinched one of the power wires under a screw. It had the same reaction when I plugged it in. So I am pretty sure that something similar happened with that VII.

You could probably categorize that failure as a technician malfunction!
Chas
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StuBaby
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Follow-up #2

Post by StuBaby » Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:12 am

Well, woke up this morning and was greeted by solid 19-21 warning lights, the timer having turned the machine on hours earlier. Fancy that, now I get warning lights !!!???. Machine was blocked. Started pushing buttons without really paying attention, turnining machine on and off, trying to go into economy mode and the like. I can't remember the sequence of pushes, but, I think, after pressing boiler button twice (on the off), all the lights lit, boiler light started flashing, fan started whirring, and steamer got up to pressure, and like magic, I had hot water and steam again. Very cool you're thinking?? Well, so was I, but...short lived, as I'll explain.

Ground some bean, loaded the machine, was about to steam some milk, and... three solid warning lights again, machine blocked :shock:

So, my thinking was, once boiler got up to pressure and temp, sensor craps out, blocks machine, and then when boiler cools down, I can get machine going again, at least for a few minutes. But, that hypothesis is false. I turned the machine off for 30min, boiler cool to touch, but as soon as I turn machine on, I get boiler light for 1/2 sec, fan whirring for 1/2 sec, and then three solid warning lights again, machine blocked. If I turn off steam boiler, my group boiler works fine. I only experienced three flashing lights once and can't reproduce the flashing.

As far as follow-up to Roger's suggestions, NiKo (see earlier part of thread):
I can't see the two sheathed wires that are zipped together. I see them in Chas' pictures, however. They have probably fallen behind the boiler and I haven't had the clarity of thought to take the back off yet. I don't know which wire to disconnect on the boiler to test Roger's theory, although, given what I've experienced this morning, it's moot. When I spoke to him a couple days ago, I told him I would be available in front of my machine this coming Monday afternoon. He said he'll be waiting for my call.

It is my destiny, I'm afraid, to purchase high end products that fall short of advertised quality and longevity. It is an expected truth for me; not quite sure who I pissed off earlier in life. HOWEVER, with that in mind, because of this site and all the accolades ChrisCoffee has received through it, I am glad I purchased the way I did. My philosphy in the past has been to buy the best and then I would never need customer service. I feel I prepared well for this. I have taken the top off the machine, and am quite impressed with the quality of wire runs, copper bends, and neat arrangements. More to follow...

Addendum: my machine has been off for 2 hrs now, around 68 degrees F in the room. Things definately had time to cool down. Turned on machine and boiler light flashing, brew group lights on, all is a go... but I'm off to church now so didn't wait for 19-21 warning lights to go solid, but, based on this mornings findings, that would have occured once boiler got to temp/pressure plus a few minutes. I'll try again when I come home...

Niko

Post by Niko » Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:04 pm

I'm waiting to hear what happens next...

I don't understand about the 2 wires sheathed together, the fact that you can't see them worries me. Did they melt together somewhere? Could this be the cause of your strange boiler problems? Who knows...
But I'm dying to find out.
Keep us posted Stubaby.

Can you take a picture of the insides - especially the wiring around the boiler area in question?

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Follow-up #3

Post by StuBaby » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:37 pm

Ok, I got the nerve to take off the side panels and back steel panel. Nice machine inside. I let the machine do the 19-21 solid lit LED thing. I then turned off the steam boiler. The group boiler worked fine. I unplugged machine and replugged, turned on, and was still in blocked mode. These findings are reproducible.

I found the wires to the temp sensor, disconnected one of the two connections and the machine fired up just fine, all lights doing the right thing. However...the pressure gauge for boiler will not,of course, turn off before getting into red zone. As a matter of fact, I didn't get an alarm with the pressure 1/2 way into the red so I turned off machine.

So, it looks like at least part of the problem (if not all) is the steam boiler temp sensor. Not sure what alarm Roger was talking about when the temp sensor is disconnected. I got the impression the alarm would occure quickly. Is there a pressure alarm for the steam boiler? I was afraid if I let the steam boiler heat up for too long without the temp sensor connected...kaploowee, bye bye StuBaby :shock:

Niko

Post by Niko » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:50 pm

Sure does sound like the sensor is a major part of it. My sensor was going bye bye earlier a few weeks ago on my S1. Remember? I just changed it with one of the newer VII style, been great ever since. Your boiler would keep getting hotter until the overflow would blow out the excess pressure, so there's no risk of it getting too high of a pressure anyways. Mine never got that far, I changed it before the symptoms got any worse or any alarms. I don't think any alarms would be present on a bad steam boiler sensor but maybe it does on the newer models? This is getting weirder.
Now I'm really concerned because these sensors are new and unproven, I just hope yours is just an isolated incident. Hate to find out that the newer more (supposedly) reliable ones aren't so reliable after all. Only time will tell for some of the newer S1's hardware.

Are you at least able to make espresso? I get caffeine headaches without my daily fix...

BTW, love your newly added avatar...the alarm LEDs are really creepy.

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Follow-up #4

Post by StuBaby » Mon Jan 22, 2007 5:58 am

Well, I woke up late this morning, machine being on for two hours. As I walked into the Spaz room, I could hear the fan whirring, and yes, all was well ... Except for the fact that I didn't turn the steam wand all the way off after purging the elevated steam boiler pressure last night and had a little mess to clean up a few minutes ago.

As an aside, I have discovered what's worse than a broken/wounded Spaz. How about this? Knowing you're going out of town for a week and not having enough fresh roast to get you through the next two days; not wanting to buy a few ounces before you leave because that would be an embarassing expression of espresso addiction and any extra not used would just go stale, right? Well, my bad. I just ground some dried out Williams-Sonoma espresso blend purchased in October '06. Oh man, this stuff is rank :sad5: But what's funny is that without all my new found espresso talent from reading this site and owning such a high quality machine :roll: , I either never would have noticed the foul flavor or I just would have added more sugar. So this morning, I just added more sugar :lol: I don't think I can do this again tomorrow morning and leave home with the aftertaste of really bad espresso in my mouth. I have a little coffee shop here that roasts their own. I've been using it since I've had the Spaz. Certainly not as flavorful as some of the roasts you guys brag about, but it does have a woodsy flavor and a nice caffeine kick. I'm gonna break down and get a couple of ounces to get me through before my trip tomorrow (no Spaz for 6 days, working or not :cry: ). Hopefully my new sensor will be waiting for me when I get back this weekend.

And yes Niko, I can still make espresso. Turning off the steam boiler clears the alarm and allows the group boiler to work. I'm glad you like my Avatar. I thought of you as I was deciding on one. On one hand, I hate to have a negative reminder of my experience on Chas' pro-Spaz' site, but on the other, it's unique, hopefully rare, and something to rival, perhaps, your fabulous "steam" pic. Although I'm certain, having left my steam wand open last night and sensor wires connected before I went to bed, that this morning while I overslept, my Spaz had fogged the whole room like a scene from an Alfred Hitcock movie.

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Follow-up #5

Post by StuBaby » Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:43 am

OK, explain this. The last time I had an alarm was when I took the photo for my avatar. That's right! The machine has been without its sides and top for 24hrs, turned on and off three times, and everything has worked great. I guess all it took was disconnected the sensor wires a couple of times and typing a lot in this forum.

I spoke to Jason yesterday and he said he'd feel more comfortable mailing me another sensor right away. He took his time with me, listened to all my concerns. I never got the feeling I was being rushed or that he had something more important to be doing. I'm telling you guys, any guest here who is thinking about buying from ChrisCoffee...DO IT !!!!!

As an aside, I also talked to him about the squeeling water noise that a few of us have talked about and he listen via phone and felt it was normal.

I also talked to him about my concerns that the volume settings weren't consistant. He said he may send me out another volume meter "brain" (what ever that is) or at least invited me to keep him posted if I continue to have issues with it.

I'm off to Disney with my 14yo son for a few days. So, have some quality espresso for me while I'm away. No tasty java for StuBaby for a bit. Oh, and btw, I broke down and bought 1/4 pound yesterday, :lol: just for this morning.

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Post by RGoldman » Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:12 pm

When you took the top and sides off, did you find any water or moisture inside? Perhaps something was wet and it's now dried out so the problems have gone away. Just a thought. It wouldn't take much moisture to cause problems with the elctronics inside.

Ron

Niko

Re: Follow-up #5

Post by Niko » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:34 pm

StuBaby wrote: I'm off to Disney with my 14yo son for a few days.
Disneyworld or Disneyland?
Probably world...

Anyways, let us know what happened to Spaz when you get back. I'm waiting to hear the good news that something reset itself and you don't have to install the new sensor. Kind of a pain in the glutes to rip apart the machine to install anything. I hate moving anything heavier than a portafilter.

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Follow-up #6

Post by StuBaby » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:06 am

Well, been back from Disney two days now (great time, thanks) and Spaz is working fine. The replacement heat sensor was waiting for me when I returned but, given the apparently resolved issue (for now, at least), I put the sides back on the beast and will save the new sensor for a rainy day. Hey, on the bright side, got a neat avatar out of it.

Niko

Post by Niko » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:20 pm

Keep a close eye on it, mine returned to normal for some odd reason also. I thought I'd have my sensor for a rainy day, well it rained a few days later and I had to change the sensor. Oh well, I hope yours just freaked out due to a digital hiccup on your board and nothing more.
Do you have a surge protector on yours?
I'm thinking of getting it for one of my S1's.

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Post by StuBaby » Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:06 am

Hey bro, thanks for reminding me. I have a single socket surge protector lying around somewhere. Gonna find it today, check for 20A, and plug it in. Else, it's off to HomeDepot.

Niko

Post by Niko » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:26 pm

So, how's your not-so-busted boiler doing lately?
Please report any other weirdness, I'll be keeping a close ear out for your machine.
Did you get the surge protector yet? I don't think Home Depot or any local hardware store sells ones for 20A, if they do let me know.

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Post by StuBaby » Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:42 am

Spaz still working fine. You were right NiKo, the surge protector I had was 15A. Guess I have to look for a 20. Watch, big bolt of lightening heading my way. POOOF ! (can I come over for a cup of java?) :lol:

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Post by chas » Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:46 am

The best - actually only - one I found is documented on both the S1 Web Site and the VII Web Site on the FAQ page.
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Follow-up #7

Post by StuBaby » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:23 am

Hey guys, just a follow-up. Well...my orinal temp sensor lasted another 5 wks and crapped out yesterday. This time I got the three warning lights and could only turn the thing off by unplugging it. Just got the whole settup nice and pretty, everything arranged around the Spaz.

Anyway, undressed her, got the 15mm socket, few turns to remove the sensor, replaced it with the one Jason sent me a month ago, and poof, she's working again. Think I'll keep her undressed for a bit just in case she gets to feelin' frisky again.

Niko

Post by Niko » Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:50 pm

Does the old sensor look bad?
How did it look compared to the new one?

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Post by StuBaby » Sat Feb 24, 2007 2:50 pm

Good question. Well, the gasket was completely flattened and the threads appeared to have black deposit on them. I tried, but I couldn't get any of it to wipe off. Those were the only things that jumped out at me.

Niko

Post by Niko » Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:07 pm

It looks like the gasket failed or whoever put that part on did it wrong. You're supposed to not really tighten it much, seems that person did it too much and crushed the gasket.

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Somtimes the stuff doesn't work

Post by Stinsonddog » Thu Mar 29, 2007 3:50 pm

If you are in the SF Bay Area there is a repair person in Walnut Creek. See the post I made for S1 failures. Cost me 275 cause I was a week out of warranty. In any event, I did not have the skills to fix it myself so shipping it back to Chris would not have worked either.
Stinsonddog

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