Black particles from Rancilio Silvia steam arm. HELP!!

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?

#1: Post by cjowo »

Hey all! I'm sure that everyone is sick of talking about Miss Silvia, but I just got a v3 on eBay and after a ton of searching haven't been able to find much regarding my problem.

When I purge the steam arm after steaming I run the pump until water comes out. The problem is that inside that water are black particles. I'm super concerned that these particles are the first sign that the heating element is failing. The person I bought it from said that he didn't use steam but a few times, so he never noticed the particles. I've run Dezcal to descale and NOTHING came out, but I still get particles only after steaming.

I'm super concerned that I bought a machine that's about to fail. Any recommendations on what to do or check would be awesome, or if anybody has seen this before. Thanks so much!!

Here's a pic of the particles

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#2: Post by JRising »

Touch them so they stick to your finger tip, then smear them on a piece of white paper. Do they smear like carbon? Fall off your finger like little metallic balls? Smear reddish like rust? Smear light brown like old, dried milk?

cjowo (original poster)

#3: Post by cjowo (original poster) »

Thanks for the reply! They smear like carbon. There is also a very small number of reddish particles, but most are black.

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#4: Post by slipchuck » replying to cjowo »

If you are using a tank filter this "carbon" maybe from the inside of the filter. If this is the case it might be as simple as putting a new one in

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#5: Post by stefano65 »

Coating from the Heating Element possibly as well.
Stefano Cremonesi
Stefano's Espresso Care
Repairs & sales from Oregon.

cjowo (original poster)

#6: Post by cjowo (original poster) » replying to stefano65 »

This is my biggest worry.

cjowo (original poster)

#7: Post by cjowo (original poster) »

Stefano, if it really is the coating on the heating element wouldn't I see the specks in the water out of the grouphead and by running hot water out of the steam arm? I only see them after steaming. Or is it a case where the increased temperature of steaming is causing the coating to flake off every time the element heats up enough to boil?

cjowo (original poster)

#8: Post by cjowo (original poster) »

I got a GFCI adapter and a digital multimeter today. I let the machine warm up, steam and purge without blowing the GFCI. I'm also measuring 15 ohms of resistance between the leads on the heating element and the multimeter beeps to confirm continuity. Also, it's reading 1 which is infinite or OL when I put one probe on the lead and the ground on the boiler. Feeling confident that the heating element is legit, for now anyway... (knock on wood). Called a shop today and the tech said that it could be anything from a bad gasket, to scale to over descaling (?!) and that the only way to know is to bring it to them (of course). All of the image searches that I've done for charcoal filter sediment show uniform sized round black specks and mine are more shard like, irregular specks. So really I have no idea what to do next! Take the boiler apart, live with it, try to convince the dude I bought it from to take it back through eBay's buyer protection program?

Sorry for the stupid long post!

TL;DR The heating element seems legit, but I'm conflicted about what to do next to get rid of these specks.


#9: Post by JimH »

Open up the steam wand and see if it is a rubber gasket that is disintegrating after long exposure to heat. They usually come apart in bigger pieces, but it is worth checking.


#10: Post by jsc49 »

Hi, I'm new here but my Silvia is also producing black particles -- still after two dezcal flushings-- from both the steam wand (with water) and the group head. Has anyone found a solution to this issue? Many thanks for any reply.