Tips on Replacing Expobar Office Boiler Heater & Other Things to Do At Same Time

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dsevier

#1: Post by dsevier »

I have measured my Office Pulser boiler heater as having an open in the heater element. So if I understand things right, I need to remove the boiler, fix it and get a long wrench to remove the old element. Any tips and tricks are appreciated. I can imagine more than one person has put dents in their copper boiler on this job.

Also, other than descaling the boiler, are there other things I should do while the boiler is out.

Thanks for your help!

Dick

ira
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#2: Post by ira »

On the Brewtus list it seems like an impact wrench is the hot ticket.

Ira

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dsevier (original poster)

#3: Post by dsevier (original poster) »

Hmm, I think you are serious when you write this... Rather than invest in a new heater, I might just put this up for sale as a project for someone in this forum who has done this before and assembled the requisite tooling. I don't even have a wrench large enough for the fittings on the copper tubing!

ira
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#4: Post by ira »

I am, but if you have the new heater you can often trade a six pack for someone at a garage to replace it for you, it's only about a two minute job.

Ira

dsevier (original poster)

#5: Post by dsevier (original poster) »

Thanks, Ira. The 6 pack plan seems reasonable and I don't have to buy a bunch of tools. Thanks for the encouragement to disconnect the boiler and ready it for heater removal.

Dick

dsevier (original poster)

#6: Post by dsevier (original poster) »

Ira,

Again, thanks for the advice. I work at a university and took it to the place that works on cars. To my surprise, it didn't even need to secured (just held with my hand) while the other guy used the impact wrench to remove it. I ordered a new one from WLL and they suggested teflon tape. Since the thread is straight, and the seal is made on the mating faces, I will use the sealant they also provide with it.

Thanks again,

Dick

ira
Supporter ♡

#7: Post by ira »

I'm glad it worked. An impact wrench is a really useful tool for getting things loose. Because of the impact, the weight of the boiler. People use it for tightening too, but it's not really that good for that, to hard to get any specific tightness level.

Ira

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Futahaguro

#8: Post by Futahaguro »

I thought I would add to this thread instead of starting a new one. Since these forums are great for getting advice I thought I should share mine for future reference. I have had my Expobar Office Pulser for 12 years and it started tripping my GFI a week ago. A little background, over the years it has treated me well, I have only replaced group gaskets about 5 times, the brew switch, the power switch, the Vibe pump (only because I thought it would quiet it down, which it didn't), and the vacuum breaker (twice; the first because it was taking a while to seal and the second because the new breaker that Whole Latte Love SUCKS and takes way to long to seal.) That sounds like a lot when I read it but over 12 years it doesn't seem like much to me. The first two years I used regular city water and the next 10 years I used softened water but I NEVER descaled the machine. Yes, that's right, I tried to take good care of it but I never really read about the necessity of descaling (more on what the boiler and element looked like later in the thread).

So when it began tripping my GFI I did some research and found that the element leads should measure ~14 Ohms and there should be no reading from the element leads to the nut of the element. I am specific about that because I was a little confused when people say from the element to ground. I wasn't sure if it was on the rubber feet is the nut actually ground? Anyway, I can tell you that the faulty element was reading 14.1 Ohms on my Radio Shack automatic multi-meter, nothing fancy. However, it would SLOWLY drop down from a high measurement when reading from the element to the nut. It seemed like it was going to SLOWLY get to 0 but I didn't wait that long. I was not sure what that meant but I figure I would replace it anyway. When I received the new element the resistance between the leads was 13.8 Ohms but the resistance between a lead and the nut, while holding it as well as being temporarily installed, was .0L (that is what my meter reads when it is 0 I think). And yes, it was INSTANT. No bleeding down to 0.

Ok, great, it seems like the element should fix my problem so now to the fun part. How do I remove it? As the above poster found out, and others recommended, an impact wrench works great. However, I have a one year old at home and the only free time I have is after she goes to bed so does anyone else out there think that I would use an impact wrench in the house after bedtime? Well, I didn't think so. So I figured I would find out just how hard it is to take out the element with an adjustable wrench and a rubber strap wrench to hold the boiler. Uh, yah that was a bad idea. I thought I had it supported on the ground, and held that rubber strap wrench like a strongman, but when I hit the wrench with a hammer it didn't budge. I did this about 5-6 times and then said 'screw it, I'm going to bed.' What I then realized was that I had pushed on the group head and bent the copper piping a bit. This is because I did not take everything apart and risk having leaks all over the place. Well, I bent it back and it looks okay, maybe some stress marks on one bend, but I will find out tonight if there are any leaks. Since this is probably my 4th time taking the machine apart I now realize that for removing the heating element you could actually just remove the bottom plate of the machine and gain access to the element. If I were to do this as a job that is probably what I would do:)

Enter the next day, immidiately when I got home I powered up the Ingersol Rand 650 ft/lb impact wrench with a 1.5" socket, maybe metric would be a BIT tighter but I didn't worry about it. With my one year old daughter looking on, she likes this kind of stuff:), I put 110psi to the wrench and BLAAAAT, BLAAAAAT, BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT, popped it right off:) So to anyone thinking about this, don't waste your time with a wrench and hammer, just take it to a garage and they will pop it right out. Will an impact driver work? The kind that is now ubiquitous to the home remodel crew? I doubt it. A cordless impact wrench should work but the first problem with an impact driver is that you would need 4 adapters just to get the 1.5" socet on there:)

The element appeared to be held in with PTFE tape, I could tell because there was some left over where there were no threads, some goop on the threads, which could have been PTFE tape and goo together, and then some hardened black crust on the outside of the boiler by the flange. I think the hardened goo was a sealant of some sort. There was also some stuff that felt like sealant on the base of the element flange, since it is just a brass mating surface. When I pulled the element out I found out how much scale was in there:) I have seen worse pictures on the internet, so I really don't think it was that bad, but it was bad enough because I had scale deposits dribble out of the bottom (the tank was already drained as much as I could). I tried to take some pictures of inside the boiler but that is not an easy task, even with my Canon D60 I couldn't get a good picture so I gave up. There was a thin layer of scale on the walls and a little bumpy layer at the water line, and boy is it OBVIOUS where that water line is. Above the water line looks brand new. The pipe that goes through the boiler, for the brew water, also had some crusties on it but nothing major, at least I didn't think so. I proceeded to clean off the boiler element mating surface from the residual gunk to make sure that the new element had a smooth surface to settle into and then I rinsed out the boiler by funneling water through the vapor lock hole so it would fill the boiler as it drained out the bottom.

The heating element is not like a plumbing brass nipple connection in that it does not taper. When you screw it in it will need the same force to drive it all of the way home, rather than gradually tightening as you go. Because of that it would seem to me that it is very important to have some type of sealant. Now, here is my comment with full disclosure; I read that you should use NSF (food safe sealant) but it was 10:00 at night and I wanted to put it back together, so I did. Obviously I did not have that sealant so since the manufacturers used PTFE tape I figured I would as well. I had some red and blue PTFE tape, and after looking at Wikipedia and realizing that there is no difference in sealing ability, I used red, which isn't even listed but has the same MIL-Spec. I wrapped it 4 times, being careful to keep the tape away from the top two threads that are nearest the water so as to try and avoid any tape getting into the boiler. With the 4 wraps it had a nice and snug feel when using the adjustable wrench to tighten it, after threading it by hand as far as I could. Now here is the full disclosure that might make some people shudder; I was worried about not having more of a sealant so I dug around in all of my home remodeling storage bins and looked through the caulk I had and decided on 100% pure silicone. Yes, that's right, silicone. Now, it's a free speech country so knock yourself out, but the working temp on the silicone is -60:400 degrees farenheit so I figured it should probably be okay. I'm wondering aboout any stink that might be created but if the working temp is that high I don't think it should stink. I DID NOT GOOP IT ON. I squirted some onto a paper towel and then minimally applied it to fill the very small gap between the element flange and the boiler flange, after it was installed. I then wiped off the top so that only the gap was filled. We shall see what happens.

So there we go, while one is under the hood it would be a good time to swap out some parts but if all you wanted to do was replace the element, just take off the bottom:)

A side note, I figured that while I was under the hood I would swap out the Gimme brain unit, in case it is about to die, but the new one is not as easy as plug and play. It has two extra pins to attach wires to and the diagram did not make it a brainless swap, so I didn't do it.

Here are some pictures.


Futahaguro

#9: Post by Futahaguro »

I wanted to follow up on this since the silicone caulk did not work. It leaked as soon as the boiler heated up. I tried to get a gasket locally but it never arrived, so rather than ordering one online and waiting I decided to make one myself. I went to my local car parts store and bought some rubber and composite gasket material, they said it is usually used for oil pans, etc.. The pack also had a water pump gasket material but it was too thick. I traced the outside of my 1.5" socket and then estimated the inside circumference and kept trimming until it fit correctly. I wrapped the threads with 5 wraps of PTFE tape and then put it together. I have not had a leak since.