Vetrano Boiler Fill Solenoid Issue?

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vulches

#1: Post by vulches » Oct 05, 2009, 6:19 pm

Yesterday my Vetrano decided to stop refilling, although this was after being on for a couple of hours with no rise in grouphead temp where the temp probe is. I have had the temp problem happen before and is fixed by opening and closing the lever (vapor lock?). However, I haven't had a problem where the boiler would refuse to fill. I can run the pump fine and know that water is not being restricted in any way. I suppose scale might be a problem despite my water softening and filtering setup from Chris Coffee. I did notice that the vacuum breaker was spurting more than normal (I think) when I had opened the case yesterday and am wondering about an electrical short. However, everything seems to be working (the heating element sounds to be working when I turn the machine on - I've unplugged the wire for troubleshooting now). Any ideas on where to look next for autofill diagnostics? I'm not quite sure how to determine if it's the solenoid or something else that's the problem. I cleaned the electrical connection to the solenoid that looked to have been decently corroded, but still nothing to get the boiler to fill. I'm wondering if the problem is actually somewhere atop the boiler with one of the other electrical components that won't allow the signal to be sent to the fill solenoid. I looked for a similar problem in other posts but couldn't find anything to help me. So, I appreciate any insight that can be offered!!

vulches

#2: Post by vulches » Oct 05, 2009, 9:59 pm

Through reading some other posts I decided to take a look at the liquid level probe. I took it out and it looked like it had a little bit of scale on it, but not much really, so I didn't think at first it was the culprit. but before I hooked it back up I thought I'd just turn the machine on to see what happened... the autofill kicked on and worked as normal. I cleaned the probe really well but for some reason when I hook up the electrical connection to it the autofill won't work (I did this before the water level rose high enough for it to stop working on purpose). It's almost like it thinks the water level is fine when it's not. Any ideas of what causes something like this? I'm going to give Chris Coffee a call tomorrow for a replacement, but I can't figure this out. At least I can get by for a while by tricking it into working.

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HB
Admin

#3: Post by HB » Oct 05, 2009, 11:03 pm

Sounds like the symptoms described in Chris' Coffee FAQ How to properly replace a liquid level sensor probe:
Chris Nachtrieb wrote:...snug up the probe nut. Note; I said snug up the nut, DO NOT over tighten. If you over tighten you will crack the Teflon sleeve and the probe will sense ground all the time resulting in your machine not calling for water. All you want to do is snug it up so it holds the probe at the proper height and there is no steam leaking around it when you pressurize your boiler.
That is, the water level sensor is shorted to ground through the Teflon sleeve to the boiler, so it never calls for water.
Dan Kehn

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erics

#4: Post by erics » Oct 05, 2009, 11:28 pm

I've unplugged the wire for troubleshooting now
Do you mean that you disconnected one of the heating element leads? If so, that's a good move. What makes you say that the autofill is not working? Correct water level in your boiler is ABOUT 4.5" as measured from the bottom of the boiler. You can check this with a 1/16" wooden dowel inserted down the hot water connection on the boiler.

With the machine off and unplugged, disconnect the probe wire's connection at the Gicar box and measure the resistance between the end of this wire & ground. I get about 22 mega ohms with the water not in contact with the probe and 0.6 mega ohms after letting the machine autofill.
Skål,

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

vulches

#5: Post by vulches » Oct 06, 2009, 1:02 am

HB wrote:Sounds like the symptoms described in Chris' Coffee FAQ How to properly replace a liquid level sensor probe:


That is, the water level sensor is shorted to ground through the Teflon sleeve to the boiler, so it never calls for water.
Hmm.... well I wish I read that before tightening too much just a couple hours ago and that certainly sounds plausible.

It seems to be back to normal somewhat now, but I did notice when the boiler was warming up that the vacuum breaker was spitting water all over the place, maybe because when I tricked it into autofilling I let it fill a little high? I'll have to watch it in the morning, but I'm still wondering about a short being caused by that water spitting out. I want to say I've noticed another oddity - after doing a chemical backflush I have two or three times found the following morning that the machine cannot get up past 80 degrees unless I release some pressure by flipping the lever. Is this something I just haven't come across in reading? I follow the directions on the cleaner container, but I'm thinking there is a step I'm missing in dealing with an E61 HX.

vulches

#6: Post by vulches » Oct 06, 2009, 1:07 am

erics wrote:Do you mean that you disconnected one of the heating element leads? If so, that's a good move. What makes you say that the autofill is not working?
I disconnected one of the leads going to what I think is the high-limit stat on top of the boiler (learned that one from the shadowfax, who used to own my Vetrano). Easy to get to and achieves the same thing. It does seem the autofill is working fine and it relates to the water level probe in some fashion. I really appreciate this site!

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HB
Admin

#7: Post by HB » Oct 06, 2009, 8:19 am

vulches wrote:...I have two or three times found the following morning that the machine cannot get up past 80 degrees unless I release some pressure by flipping the lever.
It's possible that air is leaking into the thermosyphon, forming a bubble, and thereby stopping hot water from circulating between the boiler and grouphead (see Constant dripping from E61 grouphead for a likely suspect). For reference, another possibility is the vacuum breaker (What is the purpose of a vacuum breaker valve and False pressure on start up), but you heard your machine's vacuum breaker sputtering, so it's not that.
Dan Kehn

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GC7

#8: Post by GC7 » Oct 06, 2009, 11:48 am

Eric recently helped me with a boiler fill solenoid issue with my Anita.

The symptom that led him to the correct diagnosis was that upon removing water from the boiler via the hot water tap the pump would initiate and run water constantly but without the solenoid opening the route to the boiler it would bypass through the OPV (at backfill/shot pulling pressure) and all the hot water would return to the reservoir without shutting off the pump. Eventually after shutting down the machine a couple of times to avoid burning out the pump the solenoid would kick in and refill the boiler. Replacing the solenoid fixed the problem - Thanks again Eric!

If those are your symptoms its the solenoid in all likelihood. Otherwise, listen to the experts here offering good advice.

Good luck

vulches

#9: Post by vulches » Oct 06, 2009, 4:24 pm

Appreciate the suggestions - I'm going to keep it out with the cover off and see what happens. I tend to think something needs to be tweaked or replaced, but I'm not sure what yet. For now it seems more related to the probe than the solenoid since I can manipulate the autofill by pulling the wire to the probe (it would overflow if I did that). However, it worked normally again up starting up this morning so I don't know what to make of this. Maybe cleaning the probe really well actually helped.

timoh

#10: Post by timoh » Nov 06, 2009, 5:35 pm

Hello,

My Vetrano has also started to behave strangely. I start it normally in the morning with a timer to get it properly warm before preparing my morning coffee. Since I drink mostly milk drinks I decided to refresh the boiler water couple of days back after preparing my coffee. I drew couple of deciliters of water from the hot water tap and expected the pump to kick on to start refilling. But nothing happened. I drew some more water from the hot water tap and still nothing happened. I waited couple of seconds and decided to turn the machine off to avoid heating element damage. I let the machine to cool down for some time and started it again. The pump started to refill immediately and it run quite a long time to get the boiler filled. Considering the time the pump was running I feel that the pump should have started to refill also earlier.

This has happened now couple of times. I have tried to reproduce the problem immediately after the machine has reached its operating temperature without success. Boiler refill starts quite soon after I draw water from the hot water tap. But I have been able to reproduce the problem every morning after the machine has been on for a longer period. Everything else in the machine seems to work just fine. Could this problem be related to faulty Gicar box?

Regards,

Timo