Any special steps needed before refilling an emptied steam boiler?

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dsc106

#1: Post by dsc106 »

ECM Sycnhronika, plumbed in. To reduce mineral build up in the steam boiler, I turned the machine off and emptied the boiler via the hot water wand. My understanding is, it's fine to let the machine sit with an empty steam boiler indefinitely while the machine is off?

When I go to refill the steam boiler, are there any special steps? If the steam boiler tries to heat without water in it, it will overheat, yes? Do I need to make sure the steam boiler switch is set to off, power on the machine, and bring up the brew lever to get the pump to refill the steam boiler, and then switch the steam boiler on? Or will just powering up as normal autofill the steam boiler and then heat it?

ira
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#2: Post by ira »

Should just fill the boiler automatically. Just turn it on and if the pump doesn't start in a few seconds, panic! Well, check the tank and make sure it has water and check when the pump stops to make sure it's not run out.

Ira

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Jeff
Team HB

#3: Post by Jeff »

Ira's "panic" has a bit of truth behind its humor. You don't want to be running the heating element in a dry boiler for long. If it doesn't clearly start filling and fill quickly, turn it off and figure out why. Some DB machines have a way to turn off the steam boiler. Disabling the element until the boiler is full makes the process a bit safer for the machine.

dsc106 (original poster)

#4: Post by dsc106 (original poster) »

Thank you all, I'll keep the steam switch off for a bit until I'm sure it's all filled. Again, I'm plumbed in on an ECM Synchronika (double boiler e61).

Is it bad to leave a steam boiler empty with the machine off? If so, for how long? 12-24 hours? Weeks? Can it cause mold or rust as it sits there damp and oxidizing? Is exposing the heating element to air bad?

Is it hard on the machine, no matter what, every time you drain and refill the boiler? Is it better to turn it off and have let it cooled completely overnight (like I have) before refilling, or would it be better to immediately refill with water?

ira
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#5: Post by ira »

Makes no difference if it's empty or full unless you turn on the heater, then it had better be full.

Ira

dsc106 (original poster)

#6: Post by dsc106 (original poster) »

Doesn't water coming in contact with air cause scale to build? Wouldn't that facilitate it?

Smo

#7: Post by Smo »

It is not possible to drain all the water from the steam boiler.
Look at the volume of your boiler. Then measure how much water is drained from the boiler.
Most likely, the heating element will remain under water.

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Smo

#8: Post by Smo »

1:40

Nunas
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#9: Post by Nunas »

Smo wrote:It is not possible to drain all the water from the steam boiler.
Look at the volume of your boiler. Then measure how much water is drained from the boiler.
Most likely, the heating element will remain under water.
^^^ This! The dip tube for the hot water in all espresso machines I've seen does not extend down to the bottom of the boiler. Clearly, the manufacturers have figured out how to save us from ourselves :wink: :lol:

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homeburrero
Team HB

#10: Post by homeburrero »

dsc106 wrote:To reduce mineral build up in the steam boiler, I turned the machine off and emptied the boiler via the hot water wand.
You are using Portland water, further softened by a Homeland filter, que no? If so you certainly have non-scaling water and can just drain a little water out of the hot water tap before each steaming session. More details here: Using hot water tap to manage steam boiler water concentration.


dsc106 wrote:Doesn't water coming in contact with air cause scale to build? Wouldn't that facilitate it?
No, that should not be a problem. Under normal use you get water in contact with air (some air enters the steam boiler every time the machine cools and the anti-vac valve opens). Even letting it stay empty a few days after draining should not be anything to worry about. In theory if the boiler was very concentrated with high chloride water, then drained and left for a long period, then, maybe, you'd have increased corrosion concern. But in your situation I don't see anything to worry about other than the issue of the element getting hot before covered in water, which is probably a non-issue* as others have pointed out.



*
- If you are draining via the hot water wand, the element is probably under water.
- Synchronika at factory setting is brew boiler priority, so steam boiler element does not come on until brew boiler is up to temp.
- Autofill if working correctly should quickly submerge the element when the machine is switched on.
- plus, I suspect that if the water level sensor and controller logic is working correctly it should disable the element circuit when the boiler is not full. Not 100% sure it works that way on the Synchronica.
Pat
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