Water spitting out of head instead of coming in a nice even stream?

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Katrinagrace__

#1: Post by Katrinagrace__ »

I've recently purchased an old Astoria, cleaned it up and got it running. The espresso still hasn't been great, and I think it could be due to the boiler pressure. My gauge wasn't working, so I replaced it and the new one continued to not work. I still made my espresso but now the water has been spitting out in a not very pleasant way instead of in a nice smooth stream. Is this due to boiler pressure or some other problem? Anybody have an idea of where I could head?
Note: I've backflushed with cafiza a couple times and that doesn't seem to affect it

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truemagellen

#2: Post by truemagellen »

You are probably missing the shower screen diffuser/holder and/or shower screen. There are also gaskets you need for these components. Once you have that make sure to do a flush before pulling the shot as you likely have a heat exchanger machine but maybe not.

Not sure what unit you have but does not appear to be an E61 Astoria. So here is a likely diagram of the components:

Katrinagrace__ (original poster)

#3: Post by Katrinagrace__ (original poster) »


I have all the right components, I had taken them off because I wanted to clean them good and see if that was the problem or if it was doing that farther up, and it was. It is a heat exchanger, and I do normally flush it before I pull a shot but it still continues the weak spitting stream

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truemagellen

#4: Post by truemagellen »

Katrinagrace__ wrote:I have all the right components, I had taken them off because I wanted to clean them good and see if that was the problem or if it was doing that farther up, and it was. It is a heat exchanger, and I do normally flush it before I pull a shot but it still continues the weak spitting stream
what bar do you have the pressure at for the boiler? it could be running high and then you would need a 10 second flush to tame the 'water dance' as they call it.

This is Dan on the forums showing a flush routine.
I will say as the owner of multiple commercial groups (ie Rancilio Classe/DE/etc) that given the boiler size if your pstat is too high the flush could be significantly longer than in the video. I run two group machines at the low end of the recommended Bar when running the machine in a residential setting.

Nunas
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#5: Post by Nunas »

the water has been spitting out in a not very pleasant way instead of in a nice smooth stream. Is this due to boiler pressure or some other problem?
I don't have an Astoria, but can offer some generic advice (sorry if you already know this...don't mean to be talking down to you). HX machines do not rely on boiler pressure to produce brew water. They use a pump, either vibratory or rotary, to force water from the reservoir, through a small heat exchanger pipe inside the boiler to heat the brew water (but which is totally isolated from the boiler water).

So, if you are not getting good flow, the first place to look is how you are using the machine. In HX machines the first bit of water comes out with steam, as the water in the HX loop is super-heated due to the boiler pressure. It is normal operation, and it is the reason the machine has to be flushed until the water flows nicely without steam. The amount of flush varies by machine design and can be as long as 20-seconds. The easiest way to determine how long to flush a fully warmed machine is to use a Styrofoam cup with a thermocouple in it. First flush the machine until no steam comes out, then catch the water in the cup and measure the temperature. You need to determine how long a flush you need to get water that is about 90-degrees C (or whatever your desired brew temp).

If the machine cannot flush down to the desired temp this, then it is probable you have a leak in the HX loop. If there is a leak between the HX loop and the boiler, then high pressure (i.e., super-heated) boiler water will flow to the group. When super-heated water hits the atmosphere, the reduced pressure causes it to flash off as steam.

If your water drops to the desired temperature, but the flow is weak or variable, then the first place to look is the pump assembly. If your machine uses a vibe pump, then just change it out (they can be repaired but are not meant to be). If it uses a rotary pump, then you can get a repair kit for the pump. A good test for your pump is to put a blind basket in your portafilter and run the machine. Your brew pressure gauge should rise fairly quickly and smoothly to the brew pressure (usually 9-bar). If your machine does not have a brew pressure gauge, perhaps you can borrow one mounted to a PF.

On a vibe pump it may not be the pump itself. Vibe pumps put out about 15-bar and the excess is bled off via a valve, usually mounted right on the pump or in a line near it. In cheaper machines these are fixed valves and in better machines these are adjustable valves. You can find this valve by tracing back following the second line in your reservoir (not the one that picks up the water).

On a rotary pump, the valve is inbuilt and always adjustable. You should see a screw that bypasses the pump when it produces more than the usual 9 bar.

So, have a look at all this and if you don't find the problem then tell us what you do find and I'm sure we can help. Also, if there are any Astoria owners lurking, they'll want you to identify the model, as Astoria made (makes?) at least three lines of machines of various qualities.

Katrinagrace__ (original poster)

#6: Post by Katrinagrace__ (original poster) »

Thanks for all of the info! Per suggestions, I let it flush a lot longer than I thought I would need to and it came out in a nice smooth stream! However, the pressure was still not great, which I think may be due to the fact that I just moved to a much higher altitude than I had been at and thanks to my gauge not working very well it hadn't registered to me. So, going to work on getting the gauge fixed and the proper pressure. Thanks again for all the tips!

dominoak

#7: Post by dominoak »

Nunas wrote:I don't have an Astoria, but can offer some generic advice ... [on] HX machines
Just a note of appreciation for a helpful explanation of HX mechanics and operations.