Unable to remove vacuum breaker valve... help

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

Postby cracker » May 24, 2013, 6:51 pm

I have a Quickmill Anita and am trying to remove the vacuum breaker valve. I am completely unable to get it off. I'm using an 11/16" wrench turning counterclockwise. Am I doing something wrong? I don't want to break it off!

Image

skydragondave

Postby skydragondave » May 24, 2013, 8:11 pm

Hi Walter,
Corroded fittings can be tricky. It's possible this vacuum breaker is original, and was installed with Loxeal or some other liquid thread lock/sealing compound. It's also possible that mineral deposits may be causing the threads to bind. I'd be surprised if threads were protruding into the boiler, but you can correct that later by adding a copper washer and a few wraps of high quality teflon tape. What you can try to do, is pour a small amount of cleaning vinegar into the spit cup and let it work for an hour to try to get into the threads and dissolve any scale buildup in there. Then power-up the machine to bring it to full temperature, shut it off and open the steam wand fully to bring boiler pressure to zero, and try gently but firmly removing the breaker counterclockwise with a ratchet and deep socket, using an extension if necessary to turn the valve out without twisting. If this does not remove it your only alternative may be to apply heat directly to the bung of the boiler to expand it enough to release the threads. This would require removal of all surrounding items that may be susceptible to burning or heat damage. To advise on just how much torque is too much, is a difficult judgement based on the wall thickness of the boiler and the perceived integrity of the bung weld joint. In cases like this there is always a risk of further damage that you can only mitigate by being prepared. If the threads become damaged, you may need to take the boiler out and have a machine shop or radiator shop repair the threads or replace the bung. Good luck
LMWDP #433

User avatar
HB
Admin

Postby HB » May 24, 2013, 9:01 pm

You may save yourself some grief by removing the top portion of the valve and replacing the innards as suggested in Quickmill Anita - help me diagnose problems and repair:

lel wrote:I have disassembled vacuum breaker valve today. That little rubber ring was completely dry and fell apart when I tried to remove it. That explains why a steam was escaping. I cut off a new rubber ring but did not succeed in it - a steam is escaping even more. I will be ordering new vacuum breaker valve from Chris.
I was able to remove only the first 3 parts of the valve, the base and the "cup washer" remain attached to the boiler. Should I just apply more pressure or are there more civilized ways to remove it?

erics wrote:No.

The lower portion of the vacuum breaker valve, along with all of the other water/steam fittings on the boiler, is sealed with thread sealer. I removed mine with a small, ADJUSTABLE, air impact wrench but this is a job not suited for the average home-barista - you can end up twisting some lines you didn't intend to. Espresso machine fittings are "sorta" a combination of english and metric sizes and a good fit with either is the exception rather than the rule.

You MAY be able to order all of these parts from Great Infusions - http://www.greatinfusions.com/ - they buy a lot of machines from Chris' Coffee. Your list should include: new vacuum breaker, silicone hose, OPV insert, OPV adjuster o-ring (as per Mike's suggestion), small tube of food-safe lubricant, new style boiler insulation (about $15-20 BTW). I would order two of the OPV inserts and a spare shower screen/grouphead gasket while I was at it.

In addition, and borrowing Henry's pic, I refer to the numbered parts below:

Image

A new teflon valve seat (2) CAN BE a tight fit in the housing (5). I would heat the machine up for about 15 minutes (use the on/off switch to avoid steaming up your work space) and then insert the new valve (3) and valve seat (2). Teflon tape/thread sealer is not necessary here - the new top (1) compresses the seat (2) and seals it well.

Spare o-rings for the vacuum breaker and others are as listed here: O-rings & Copper Sealing Washers .
Dan Kehn

cracker

Postby cracker » May 24, 2013, 9:11 pm

Thanks Dan I saw that post earlier and am trying to do just that but even the top won't budge. I'm soaking the cup in 15% citric acid right now with the hope it will remove some scale if that's the issue.

User avatar
erics

Postby erics » May 24, 2013, 10:09 pm

After the soaking is done, try a 17 mm, 6 point socket and possibly rent an adjustable electric impact wrench - I believe Home Depot may still rent tools. 17 mm is a little better fit than 11/16.

A lesser alternative would be the same 17 mm socket with a tee-handle wrench.

Have a helper grab the boiler so you don't twist some valuable copper lines into a mess.
Skål,

Eric S.
http://users.rcn.com/erics/
E-mail: erics at erols dot com

cracker

Postby cracker » May 24, 2013, 10:46 pm

No luck after soaking for about an hour. I have tried both 11/16 and 17mm sockets (they are 12 point though). The breaker works fine other than some minor hissing before it shuts. It's the original one from when I bought the machine new in 2007. I bought a new vacuum breaker from Chris Coffee and also wanted access to the boiler to descale it per their instructions.

I guess they are not keen on running descaler through the pump etc. I have very little scale on the mushroom and have used water run through a water softener (ion exchange) cut with a bit of unsoftened tap water. Maybe I'll try to get some better tools before I give up.

User avatar
erics

Postby erics » May 24, 2013, 10:52 pm

The breaker works fine other than some minor hissing before it shuts.

That, in and by itself, is normal but I'm sure there was a little more hissing than what I have interpreted.

In any event, that vacuum breaker now knows who the boss is and it will probably work fault free for the next 5 years :)
Skål,

Eric S.
http://users.rcn.com/erics/
E-mail: erics at erols dot com