Steam boiler issue

Did you have a bad "out-of-box" experience with your Mini? Describe it here and report back with the final resolution.
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applepod124
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Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:18 pm

Hi, I'm having a problem with my "new" (previously owned, but new to me) mini vivaldi II. When I try turning on the steam boiler, the pump runs, but after about a minute, it stops and all lights turn off except for the "Boiler" light, which is blinking. The manual stated that this is an issue with the automatic boiler refill. After a few tries of turning the machine off, then on and trying again, the boiler was working and could steam and pull hot water. However, the issue started again a while later and i'm not sure what to do. I bought the machine used on cragislist, and the date on the machine is 1/2010. The seller claimed to have recently cleaned the machine, however I do not know what was cleaned or how long ago it was. I have already called the seller, and am waiting to hear back. I may end up just getting my money back. What other options would I have? Has anyone else had this issue?

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:21 am

Many post on this forum for that. Try Search. But I would say most likey cause is water not getting through to the steam boiler. first place to check is: Cut and Paste below is from Chas post.

Perhaps my water is harder than yours. I had a similar problem to yours with my original S1 but it took less than two years to occur. In my case there was a mineral blockage at a specific location that caused the boiler to fill really slowly. As it got worse, it finally got to the point where it took longer than 1 minute to refill. This triggered a blocking alarm such that I had to pull the power cord and plug it back it, then it would maybe run another 5-10 seconds an finally refill. Once it got this bad, it didn't take long to drive me crazy such that I started pulling lines to find out where the blockage was.

Someone else saw the same symptoms and did a similar trace but their blockage turned out to be in a different place. The good news is that both locations are pretty easy to check. The other person's blockage was due to a mineral build up right where the cold water line from the pump enters the boiler. Fixing it was a matter of pulling off that line and scrapping out the minerals.

My blockage was in the gicleur valve that is right below the base of the solenoid that control water flow into the steam boiler. This has an adjustment screw that goes through a nut. Leave the screw alone but unscrew the nut so you can remove the mechanism and inspect for / clean out any minerals.

viewtopic.php?f=57&t=1887

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chas
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:56 pm

The way the S1 works, if the pump comes on to fill the a steam boiler and the water level sensor does NOT indicate "boiler full" within 60 seconds, the S1 will throw a blocking alarm which requires that you unplug the machine and plug it back it to clear. I assume from your description that this is what is happening.

When you plug the machine back in again does it complete filling before another 60 seconds completes and shuts off the machine again? The difference would indicate whether you have a complete or a partial blockage. This does not mean the previous owner did not clean the boilers before he sold it to you. It could actually be because he cleaned the boiler. A small chunk of mineral may have broken off somewhere and clogged the water line to the boiler; i.e. your machine threw a clot and had a stroke :shock:

This typically happens at one of three basic choke points. As previously noted doing a search on this Forum will reveal most of the previous threads on this subject.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:09 pm

chas wrote:When you plug the machine back in again does it complete filling before another 60 seconds completes and shuts off the machine again?
No, Once I turned the machine on, tried to fill the boiler, got the alarm, then turned it off and tried again, it did not fill.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:01 pm

applepod124 wrote: No, Once I turned the machine on, tried to fill the boiler, got the alarm, then turned it off and tried again, it did not fill.
When you say you turned it off and tried again, did that include unplugging the machine for several seconds and then plugging it back in?
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:21 pm

chas wrote:
applepod124 wrote: No, Once I turned the machine on, tried to fill the boiler, got the alarm, then turned it off and tried again, it did not fill.
When you say you turned it off and tried again, did that include unplugging the machine for several seconds and then plugging it back in?
Yes, I waited about a minute, then plugged the machine back in and tried again.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:46 pm

If you press the Boiler button to turn off the steam boiler as soon as you plug the machine back in and power it up, that should keep the steam boiler issue from occurring. In this mode of operation does the group boiler work fine; i.e. proper operation and 9bar of pressure during shots?

We want to figure out next if normal shot mode works fine so we can be sure the clog issue is limited to the steam boiler and is not affecting both boilers.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:09 am

I did not look at the pressure gauge while pulling shots, however I did notice that there were times where nothing came out after several seconds. I'm not sure if that's an issue with the grind or tamp pressure, or if the machine didn't get up to the full 9 bars. I'll test tomorrow and see.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:01 pm

Well, I did some more testing. When I tried pulling water through the group, nothing came out, or very few drops. I tried using the hot water and on/off buttons simultaneously to test that the boiler is filled, and it worked fine. I'm not really sure what would cause the issue to happen when pulling shots. With both the one and two cup buttons, when pressed, the pump runs but no water comes out.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:58 pm

I don't have a Mini. You might be better served for this issue if an actual Mini owner responds. However, I have heard of a number of users with a very similar problem. Their solutions were usually one of two things. 1) If you have a small filter/softener cartridge inside the water tank, remove it. 2) The tank may not be seating correctly and/or something is clogging the opening of the tube that inserts into the tank.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:07 pm

I removed the water softener, which solved all of my issues. Thank you very much for your help, chas.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:29 pm

I'm glad to hear that it was that easy. That cartridge has been very problematic for Mini Owners. They either clog fairly quickly or are already clogged right out of the box. If you have hard water and need to soften it, others have been using bottled water or even using something like a Brita "pitcher" softener to quickly soften the tap water before filling the tank.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by applepod124 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:33 pm

I have a pitcher that filters the water, which i'm using in the machine. Hopefully it isn't hard water. Would it be a good idea to buy water hardness test strips to check it?

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by richardcoffee » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:28 pm

It is a good idea to get some test strips to check whatever water you are using. I suspect you'll find the pitcher helps some but not enough. I used bottled water until I installed one of Chris' under sink softener and filter systems. I just use it with a tap in the sink that's installed where there was a punch-out for a soap container. If that hadn't been there I would have just used a valve under the sink. I simply fill my Brita pitcher with softened and filtered water a couple times a week. I no longer bother with the Brita filters. Works great.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:24 pm

Took apart my S1 today to try and figure why no water to steam boiler. Can some explain how part 7696 works. I have water prior that that part. Took out the gliecer . Did not see anything. Appears that 7696 has some calcification. Can it be soaked in citric acid. Just the metal part.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:11 pm

That's the solenoid valve which is turned on via the controller board to refill the boiler. When it is time to refill the boiler you should hear that valve click. If you don't hear a distinctive click the solenoid itself might be bad. Otherwise, just remove it via the nut on top and see if there is mineral build up down inside the valve.

Also the metal housing below the solenoid has a screw and a lock nut on the side. The is the gicleur that controls the amount of flow into the steam boiler. It can also clog. The screw is actually an adjustment screw for the gicleur. It's best to leave that alone and just remove the gicleur by loosening the nut.

This problem happened to me once on my original S1 and it turned out to be a small chunk of mineral in the gicleur that I scraped out using a dental pick type of tool.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:25 pm

Can that metal part be soaked in citric acid?

But more tithe point, exacty how do they work, the mechanics involved? The selinoid causes what to happen on the metal part?

There is mineral build up in the metal part

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:33 pm

Citric acid or white vinegar will work fine.

How a Solenoid Valve Works
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:17 pm

Just what I needed, a simple picture. I just could not see how that part that goes through the electrical coil would move. Seemed pretty in movable. Thanks

BTW the S1 is 2003, so older than I thought

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:39 pm

I think they went on sale in Nov. 2003. I got mine in Jan 2004 so you really did get one of the first ones. Mine had all the upgrades - new motor mounts, new steam arm, new controller board to fix backward temp control. Did you get any of those upgrades?

I had thought all the original purchasers got them automatically but perhaps only those that complained got them.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:34 pm

Ok. Cleaned out the device. Water to the steam boiler. Big success however water pouring out the top of the steam boiler. Had to shut water off. Coing out if both sensors. Don't know what to do now. When to Home Depot and bought a plug to stop water from solenoid to boiler. We only drink Iced mostly anyway. So now has functional espresso back with overflow stopped. Any ideas why not getting signal to stop water from overfilling

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by chas » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:58 pm

The next thing to do is to loosen the bolt that holds in the steam boiler water level sensor just enough so that you can pull it completely out. Then soak it in vinegar or citric acid. It is probably coated with mineral deposits. It's just a short metal rod that sticks down into the water. If it is insulated with mineral deposits the water will fill until it gets past all the deposits.

Once the rod is clean, the boiler should stop filling as soon as the water touches the tip of the rod. Be sure to push down as far as it will go before retightening the nut.
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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:35 am

Not really coated with mineral deposits. It is kinda black looking, but currently soaking in vinegar.

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Re: Steam boiler issue

Post by rhinoevans » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:52 am

Late on this end, so done for the night. A few observations

1. No mineral deposits, just some black residue which I cleaned up
2. Did not have to loosen the nut, the probe came right out with ease. Retightened the nut and now probe held on place. Maybe that was the problem ???
3. To late to deal with another leak if not fixed, so off to bed. More tomorrow. Thanks for all your help.

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