Preventive Maintenance - Elektra Microcasa Semiautomatica

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#1: Post by Uli »

Dear all,

Since my Microcasa a Leva which I bought 20 years ago started leaking through o-rings under the boiler 5-6 years later, I got into regular maintenance.
Every few years, take apart everything and put it back together after exchanging all o-rings and gaskets and what have you.
--> Love the parts set from Stefano's for that purpose.

Two years ago, I upgraded to the Microcasa Semiautomatica - looks like a goddess to me - expecting I can treat her well and start maintenance before some leakage and associated damage happens (such a currents creeping and melting isolations, ... )

When I started to my beauty apart this morning I got somewhat cautious finding all those additional parts & piping ...

I guess one still wants to replace any boiler seals now and then but how to get through to them? Which parts should be removed and which parts should remain?

Any advice on the general approach would be most appreciated!
Also, if that's ok, I might just take photos all the way to document the process (will help me to put things back together) and maybe get further advice when I get stuck :wink:



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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

I'd say that the key preventative maintenance is to regularly drain and refill the boiler. The Semi is a cold-fed HX so pulling shots doesn't touch the water in the boiler. Steaming milk removes distilled water from the boiler - so the water that remains in the boiler gets more and more full of concentrated salts, scale, etc. Left alone, this causes all kinds of bad things to eventually happen (like leaking boiler seals).

One can inspect and clean/rebuild/replace the vacuum breaker at the same time ... and with the vacuum breaker removed, one can use a borescope - they're so inexpensive now - and see what the inside of the boiler is like.

I'd also have a look for leaks underneath very regularly. One trick is to put a gasket around the screw underneath the drip tray - or even cover the screw with electrical tape. That way the inevitable accidental overflow from the drip tray doesn't end up in the base - which will rust as a result, again, causing all kinds of bad things to eventually happen.

The mesh/metal wool in front of the gicleur in the group might need cleaning/replacement. The three-way system also benefits from regular backflushing and cleaning.

It is hard to say when a complete teardown and seal replacement should be done. Teardown is much more involved than the Leva (I have both machines). I've taken the approach of more regular inspection, but I do not use either machine daily.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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#3: Post by another_jim »

One trick with the Semi is to take advantage of the manual boiler refill and refill it with distilled water. I used to let the boiler go down to about half way on the sight glass, then refill it to nearly full. Otherwise, what Craig said.
Jim Schulman

Uli (original poster)

#4: Post by Uli (original poster) »

Many thanks Craig and Jim!

I will happily follow your advice to push back taking apart my Semi until when it actually starts leaking into the base and for the moment focus on the maintenance items that you mentioned.

Indeed, my leva finally died after 17 years when the boiler corroded from the inside.
I better get my hands on a borescope :D

But first I need to open the boiler! That was easy with the Leva but how does it work with the Semi?

There's the small one outside of the center - pressure relief ? I never took this one out from the Leva.

And then there's the one in the center. On the Leva that was just a screw cap.
To open this one on the Semi, do I first have to unscrew the inner brass piece - if yes, which direction do I need to turn it?
Then I unscrew the outer nut? Or, I can unscrew it right away ?

Ideally I don't want to break anything - many thanks for any guidance!


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#5: Post by baldheadracing »

The one outside the center is the vacuum breaker that I was talking about. The one in the middle is the safety pressure release valve - the Leva has the same valve but the safety valve is inside the plastic cap so you do not see it.

Either could be removed to look inside the boiler. The safety valve has an o-ring just like the MCaL. I also remove the vacuum breaker as it gives me a chance to lubricate the little o-ring in the vacuum breaker. Note that the vacuum breaker in my machine is secured with a copper crush washer which technically shouldn't be reused, although I do. If you remove both the vacuum breaker and the safety valve, then you can shine a flashlight through one hole and see inside the boiler pretty clearly.

The easiest way to drain water out of the boiler is to open the steam wand (cold machine) and tilt the machine. No disassembly required, but be sure to empty the reservoir first to avoid getting water everywhere (l forgot once :mrgreen:).
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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#6: Post by baldheadracing »

Here's a shot of my boiler from the vacuum breaker hole, with a flashlight shining through the center safety valve hole. There's a bit of scale at the top of the HX. I haven't decided whether I'll remove the limescale; I'll see how I feel in the morning :D.

-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada