Brasilia Portafino 2006 water supply problem

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#1: Post by jwbonnett »

First time post so bear with me.. I did search the forum for similar problems but didn't find an exact match.

Just the facts:

Brasilia Portafino 2006

Changed the filter on the direct water supply line. There is full flow out of the filter.

When I turn on the unit I hear the pump running until a red light starts flashing by the "Stop" button, then the pump shuts off.

Sightglass is empty.

I do get water from the hot water tap but at a lower flow rate than usual.

I get water at the portafilter.

I get steam at the steam wand.

(again) Sightglass is empty.

The manual fill button at the front of the machine does not work to fill the sightglass/tank. At one point it began leaking profusely at the button (on the front, / lower panel of the machine), but it seemed to seal back up.

Do you think this is a pump problem? Or is there a solenoid or other valve that would be preventing water from reaching the tank properly? Is there some testing I can do to troubleshoot to give you better info here?

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#2: Post by barry »

the level probe for the boiler is in the sight glass.

there's a very good chance the lower sight glass tube is scaled up within the tube itself, or at the boiler orifice where that tube attaches.

if that is the case, then you will have water in the boiler, but little or none will show in the sight glass, and the water fill circuit will run until it times out (which is what is making the little red light flash).

if you don't have water in the boiler and you turn it on, then the heating element will let you know with a most dramatic bang... so my guess is you have water in the boiler, but the lower tube is obstructed.

jwbonnett (original poster)

#3: Post by jwbonnett (original poster) »

Ok Thanks Barry.

I follow what you are saying about there being blockage somewhere. Surprised by a probe in the sightglass; haven't seen that but will look.

The fill circuit timing out makes sense, since that light comes on when a shot is packed too tight and it "times out" with that light.

I haven't heard that "bang" though the unit is turned off (didn't want to burn out a heating element because of no water) so I suspect there is water in the tank.

How can I check this tank level?

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#4: Post by barry »

without a sight glass, the only way I know to check boiler water level is to pull a fitting off the top and look in.

if you decide to take stuff apart on the sight glass, just remove the lower tube... don't disassemble the sight glass itself, as there are several o-rings in there and it's really easy to break the glass itself. taking the lower tube off isn't hard, it's just tricky to get a wrench in there. iirc, it's a 21mm hex.

jwbonnett (original poster)

#5: Post by jwbonnett (original poster) »

Feeling more confident that there was water in the tank I turned it back on. Heard no harsh bang when it heated back up. Have to correct myself, there is some water in the sightglass. It is at the minimum level.

The pump again ran until it timed out. (flashing light again)

Yes, I've been through the o-rings and broken site glass, I'll try not to repeat that.

I looked over the sightglass carefully and really don't see a level probe attached to it. I do see a probe on top of the tank with a wire going to it. Could that be it?

Regrouping my thoughts these are the indicators:

* I have water at the hot tap, the portafilter, and steam at the steam wand

* I have a flashing light that is indicating the pump runs till it times out.

* I have a sightglass at the minimum level

* I have a manual fill button that does not work to bring the site glass up to a higher level.

* I need to physically check the tank for level.

jwbonnett (original poster)

#6: Post by jwbonnett (original poster) »

Ok, I'm onto something. I found that if I held the manual fill button in long enough it would trickle in a fill. Normally it would blast a fill into the tank and sightglass in seconds. I had to hold it for literally 10 minutes to get a fill to the 3/4 point on the sightglass. I think the pump was also not able to achieve a fill in the allotted time so therefore we are getting the flashing red timeout light.

So. It seems that "manifold" (for lack of a better term) must have an obstruction since both the automatic fill valve and the manual fill go through that manifold. I'm thinking either severe calcification or a broken or torn valve seat are obstructing the proper flow of water.

Once I got the sightglass to nearly 3/4 and turned the unit back on, the pump ran, filled the site glass a little more and turned off without timing out. I then turned the unit back off and then back on and the pump did not need to run at all.

So, the crux of the matter is that the tank was too low and could not fill fast enough to prevent the alarm light from coming on.

Can that manifold be successfully be removed and rebuilt or do I just need to buy a new one? Hmmm just had a thought... maybe I should check at the inlet to the tank first, and the line to the tank from the manifold, just to be sure there isn't blockage there before tearing out the manifold.

Feedback appreciated!

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#7: Post by allon »

There may be a screen in the water inlet which is goobered up.
You may want to remove the main water hose and check that.
LMWDP #331

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#8: Post by barry »

you don't want to get into the manifold. they're a pain full of o-rings. there is a small inlet jet on the left side of the manifold (I have a munged manifold on my bench from a 3-group) that, if the screw is set too far, will overly restrict the water inlet flow.

But, before you tear into the manifold, I'd check the water flow to it, as well as the water flow out of it.

jwbonnett (original poster)

#9: Post by jwbonnett (original poster) »

Thanks Barry,

I was going to pursue that strategy. I know I have full flow out of my main in-line filter and I plan to check the path as much as I can to and from the manifold. I think I did notice that adjustment screw. I do fear it may be one of those o-rings or a valve seat displaced in there especially since I had an 1/8" stream shooting out of the manual push button fill that stopped as suddenly as it started. I have experience with o-rings and valves (industrial maintenance) so it doesn't completely scare me. Even if I just get it out and take it to someone at least I can possibly lower the repair cost. I'll be sure to post an update with what I find. The machine is operational now that I have found I can get some fill to the tank, but I need to resolve the problem. It just may not be right away; the machine is at my workplace but we don't us it commercially. I appreciate the feedback and am still open to hearing if anyone has been down this path since I haven't taken anything apart yet!

jwbonnett (original poster)

#10: Post by jwbonnett (original poster) »

Oh good grief.... I was manually filling the tank with the fill button on the front panel, I had it depressed with the wooden handle of a brush. (hard on the thumb without it) One of the guys walked by and said have you tried "snapping" the valve? Almost before he was done saying it (I knew it was a good idea) I let the button slip from under the pressure of the wood handle so that it "snapped" out forcefully... and now I have full flow from the manual fill button and from the automatic pump fill. So obviously there is something amiss in there, whether calcification or some other obstruction, but it is working like it should be now.