Vacuum valve malfunction

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RobertD

Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:29 pm

My s1 is slightly over 3 years old. The last several mornings after turning it on, I have heard the water filling the boiler take much longer than usual. Also, there was a small amount of water pooled under the machine. This morning, the boiler never came up to pressure and water was pouring out the bottom. After cleaning up the mess, taking the back and side off and allowing it to cool down, I started it up again. Rather than the usual spitting of water and steam before sealing, the vacuum valve had hot water squirting all over the place. I rapped it a few times with a screwdriver, and it seems to have sealed. I am going to go through another cooling and restart cycle. In the meantime I am curious if anyone has had the same experience, and either replaced or removed and cleaned the vacuum valve.

Thanks...Robert

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chas
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by chas » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:28 pm

You may have two different things going on. You noted that the boiler has been taking a long time to fill the last few days but only today was there a lot of water coming out. Today's issues definitely sounds like the vacuum valve didn't reseat and you may very well have fixed that. However, if that had been the problem previously I would think you would have seen a lot of water on the counter each day.

I'll wait to discuss other possibilities until I find out if your current fix worked. However, others have had this issue and you can probably find those threads using the search function.
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RobertD

Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 pm

Three cycles today, allowing the boiler to cool enough to unseat the vacuum valve, and it appears to be working fine. The true test, I think, will be in the morning, since we keep the house at 55 at night. Not sure if that matters, but will post the results after my morning start-up.

By the way, after pulling the back off, I saw that the start-up capacitor was no longer on top of the pump, but had slipped off next to it into a vertical position. Seems as if the glue holding the capacitor to part of the mounting bracket had failed. This may explain the rattle I was hearing, but was too lazy to investigate!

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Niko
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by Niko » Sat Nov 08, 2008 5:18 pm

RobertD wrote:The true test, I think, will be in the morning, since we keep the house at 55 at night.
:shock:
...dAng that's cold.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by JohnB » Sat Nov 08, 2008 6:33 pm

Niko wrote:
RobertD wrote:The true test, I think, will be in the morning, since we keep the house at 55 at night.
:shock:
...dAng that's cold.
Sounds pretty toasty for sleeping. We sleep in an unheated bedroom with the window open all winter. Normally we have a fan blowing cold air in.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:45 am

Let's try to stay focused on MY issue people! :smile: After a number of cycles, the old girl seems to be working again. Now I wonder if I should leave well enough alone, or go ahead and take the valve out for cleaning, assuming there is a high probability it will malfunction again. I searched the site, per Chas's recomendation, but only found one reference, and that was for a different machine. Also, I assume there is no problem using epoxy to attach the pump capacitor to the disc on the mounting bracket?

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by chas » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:48 am

Either epoxy or silicon rubber should work. The latter if you think you may even need to remove the capacitor from the bracket. Others have reported that their capacitor bracket loosened up and rattled. You're the first to report the capacitor coming loose from the bracket.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by JohnB » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:52 am

Have you ever descaled the boiler?
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:18 pm

John...I descaled a few weeks ago, and wondered if there was a correlation. I used a vinegar mixture.

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by JohnB » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:54 am

RobertD wrote:John...I descaled a few weeks ago, and wondered if there was a correlation. I used a vinegar mixture.
You might want to consider draining/flushing the boiler again to make sure you got all the loose material out. How did the vinegar work? Did you see a lot of scale/gunk when you drained the boiler?
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:11 pm

Below pictures show the results of my last descaling. The first picture shows the result after just draining the boiler. The second picture shows the addition gunk after allowing the solution to sit in the boiler. A cautionary note for anyone else using this method: After finishing with the mixture, I probably had to fill and drain the boiler about 10 times before the water came out clear.

IMG_0721.JPG
IMG_0721.JPG (13.63 KiB) Viewed 6525 times
IMG_0723.JPG
IMG_0723.JPG (16.51 KiB) Viewed 6524 times

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by caf4brains » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:09 pm

Robert,

What are we looking at in your pictures?

eric

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by chas » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:43 pm

caf4brains wrote:Robert,

What are we looking at in your pictures?

eric
This looks like the special Smurf version of the Vivaldi!
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:11 pm

Sorry, I was so excited about remembering to take pictures during the boiler descaling process, I didn't describe the image!

You are looking at the bottom of a large blue bowl (formerly known as "Robert's popcorn bowl") which contains the deposits after my descaling process. After syphoning the water from the boiler into the bowl, I drained the bowl to take these pictures.

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by Niko » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:34 pm

:shock: Ahh, OK...I thought it was just me.
For a moment I thought I was the only one without a blue boiler.
How often do you descale the boiler? I assume you don't use a softener?
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:11 pm

My standard policy is to descale every three years or when I can't hear my wife in the kitchen during the morning start-up, whichever comes first. Given the amount of gunk in the boiler, I probably need to consider a water softener and descale more often!

I will re-read all the water softener threads, but can one conclude that there is a noticible difference in coffee taste with softer water? Or, is it more a maintenance issue?

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by Weska » Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:54 pm

I believe that it's mainly being kind to the equipment.

Softer water theoretically will bear more coffee solids into solution, but the differences should be very hard to detect beside every other thing that is going on in a cup of espresso. Standard ion exchange softening replaces calcium and magnesium with salt, but you never notice any saltiness even when drinking the softened water straight.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by JohnB » Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:34 pm

RobertD wrote: I will re-read all the water softener threads, but can one conclude that there is a noticible difference in coffee taste with softer water? Or, is it more a maintenance issue?
I've been drinking hard well water my entire life so I wasn't happy with truly soft water in my espresso. How hard is your water? Pick up a liquid hardness test kit at your local pet supply store & see what you have. I use the CC softener/carbon filter set up & add some hard water back in after the softener to end up around 80ppm.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by Niko » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:12 pm

I used to run the softener and carbon filters in the Bay Area even though the water was from Hetch Hetchy (Yosemite Valley) - can't get water better than that ;-)
I ran the filters because I don't trust what cities do to the water before it hits the tap.
The softener was never exhausted, it ran straight for 2 years without a granule missing since the water measured in at about 3-12ppm.
Hard water tastes very "minerally" to me and I don't like it in my epsresso. The water at my new place is undrinkable, cysts and tumors would grow in the boilers if I don't filter it :lol:
I might have to change the softener and carbon filter every 4-6 months with this terrible water out here.
Either that or I might have some nice boiler pictures to post every 9 months.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:22 pm

Update:

Well, it happened again. However, it may not be the valve that is the problem. This may be what Chas was alluding to in an earlier post. I don't really understand the entire mechanism, but I believe what is really happening is that the boiler is "over" filling as soon as the boiler light comes on. Then, as it comes up to operating temperature, there is not enough room to create the necessary steam pressure to close the vacuum valve. After shutting the boiler off and letting it cool, I restarted and just let water spit out of the valve. After about 3 or 4 minutes, cleaning up the water draining onto the counter as I waited, the valve finally sealed. Does this make sense to anyone? If so, does the problem lie with the sensor or the board? Given that there will be many guests over tomorrow, I will leave the Spaz on 24/7 until you all have nothing better to do than give me your thoughts on the problem.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

BTW, as to the water hardness discussion, I am at about 60 ppm, which I believe means I do not need a softner. Is that correct?

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by Niko » Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:22 pm

RobertD wrote:I restarted and just let water spit out of the valve. After about 3 or 4 minutes, cleaning up the water draining onto the counter as I waited, the valve finally sealed. Does this make sense to anyone? If so, does the problem lie with the sensor or the board?
How much water is coming out of the wand? - If it's something like several ounces, then it sure is overfilling.
As for the problem being with the board or the sensor - I'd bet it's the sensor.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by RobertD » Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:58 pm

How much water is coming out of the wand?
No water out of the wand. It is coming out of the vacuum valve and running down the sides of the boiler. Although I did hit the switch to get water out of the hot water spigot (nothing happened), I did not think of opening the wand to see if water would drain through there. Once again, as there was no pressure, I doubt this would have worked. I am sure at least several ounces came out before the vacuum valve seated.

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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by Niko » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:23 pm

It sure does sound like it's overfilling to me. Even though it has no pressure, I was wondering if a bunch of water would come out of the wand if cranked open since it is overflowing so bad. I had a conversation with one of Chris' techs quite some time ago about a boiler issue and he mentioned this as a symptom (of an overfilling boiler).
Did you call Chris' to speak with any of the techs? Those guys are pretty sharp, they can steer you in the right direction for parts.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by JohnB » Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:08 pm

RobertD wrote:Update:
BTW, as to the water hardness discussion, I am at about 60 ppm, which I believe means I do not need a softner. Is that correct?
I wouldn't worry about it at 60ppm as CC thinks 50ppm is safe. Hardly worth the trouble when you are that close.
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Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by JohnB » Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:14 pm

Niko wrote:
RobertD wrote: As for the problem being with the board or the sensor - I'd bet it's the sensor.
I'd agree. Have you removed the sensor & had a look at it? Possible its gummed up from the descaling? :?: :?:
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TruthBrew

Re: Vacuum valve malfunction

Post by TruthBrew » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:23 am

For the record, when I had a boiler issue, the question Chris' Coffee would ask is, when the problem is occuring, if you open the steam wand does 1+ oz of water come out. If so, the boiler is overflowing and you need to replace that sensor. Didn't sound like a hard or expensive thing to do.

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