Wet steam. How to adjust autofill probe level?

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jgood

#1: Post by jgood »

I am having an issue with my Quick Mill Carola Steamer -- basically the steam half of a double boiler. The steam has become much wetter -- and no matter how much I purge I am getting spurts of water with the steam. One thought that Chris Coffee had was to clean the water level probes. My thought is perhaps to lower the high level probe a touch as well. I would try that to start, except I don't know which probe is high and which is low. Continued below pictures:


In any case there are two nuts, one that sets the level and one that attaches the probe assembly to the tank. The lower nut, needs to be loosened to pull out the probe assembly. That nut is frozen to the tank. I am advised to hold the tank and then tap the wrench with a hammer to loosen, or use a better yet use powered impact wrench, which I don't have. My question is this -- can I unscrew the smaller adjustment nut and carefully lift out the probe? The tech was not willing to endorse this -- I think because I might damage the probe. Unfortunately they don't know which probe is the high level so I have to deal with both. All thoughts and suggestions welcome.

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BaristaBoy E61

#2: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Loosening either nut should allow probe removal for cleanup. That should be all that's required to remedy the problem. Probe depth level should be fine as designed.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

jgood (original poster)

#3: Post by jgood (original poster) »

Just so I am clear -- I can just loosen the inner nuts completely - the ones that are for changing the level - (I guess counting the turns, so I can return them to the same position), and lift out each of the probes and clean, leaving the nuts that're screwed into the tank in place -- is that correct? Thanks!!

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cafeIKE
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#4: Post by cafeIKE »

Mark or measure the current level before probe removal. A side view would help, but the probe looks a long way down... possibly exposing the heating element

In 15 years, I haven't adjusted the steam boiler probe levels, but then I descale regularly.

How old is the machine, how often do you use the steam boiler and has it been descaled?

JRising
Team HB

#5: Post by JRising »

I'm sorry to agree with the other tech, but I gotta say I too am against dragging a potentially calcium-covered level probe up through it's soft-plastic sheath. I urge you to try again to just unscrew the larger fitting and remove the assembly whole to check it/clean it.
(Or, if you simply want to lower the boiler depth, push it down 2 mm without loosening anything, you can see that there's no calcium on the upper exposed side of the stainless steel, so nothing to gouge the sheath).

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BaristaBoy E61

#6: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

John is right, removal of the larger nut so that the whole assembly is removed would be best. Removal through the smaller nut might also result in the inner insulating sleeve to also get pushed out of its nut housing and into the bottom of the boiler during reinsertion. That would mean having to remove the heating element to retrieve it for refitting. That would also mean that the larger probe nut would still have to be removed.

I stand corrected.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

jgood (original poster)

#7: Post by jgood (original poster) »

Just to clarify -
The picture of the probe is from a website -- it's not the probe in the machine.
I don't know which probe is the low level sensor and which is the high level sensor on the steamer -- Chris Coffee doesn't know either.
The steamer is only 7 months old.
I've had my Carola Espresso Machine for several years and haven't had any issues. I'm using a mixture of distilled and Crystal Geyser and used the same in the Steamer, recently I tried a Bicarbonate of Soda mixture for the Steamer (recipe from Home Barista) to see if it made any difference - it didn't. I've also tried different steam tips but the excess water in the steam remains. It was measurably better a few months ago - that's what started me down this path.
I am at a bit of a loss as to how to get the lower (larger) nut out without breaking anything. There is very little clearance around the tank so I cannot fit a strap wrench around the tank. Chris Coffee says they put thread lock on at factory and they are hard to remove. Would a small impact driver or impact wrench help? I am a bit of a carpenter/home project guy so I am not opposed to picking one up. Any other ideas as to what might be the issue -- or is the probe the place to look?
Thanks!

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cafeIKE
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#8: Post by cafeIKE »

Try this Strap Wrench
It can be threaded most anywhere.
Push the boiler insulation down to get a solid grip on the boiler.

If you can see the controller and the wires entering, take a photo and post.
If not, I'm guessing as I don't know the operation of the steamer, BUT
With the steamer on and fully heated, pull off the TAN wire. If the pump starts, that's low water. If not, it's the high.
Replace TAN wire and pull the RED. If the pump starts, that's low water.

Let the machine cool

You are likely going to need a flare nut wrench as the fittings are so close. I've found them invaluable on espresso machines.

Sometimes you can use Brake Cleaner with perchloroethylene to break permanent thread lock. Use it in a well ventilated area. Most brake cleaners come in spray bomb which is a tad imprecise for your job.

Take a photo of the connections and remove ALL, tie out of the way and cover with a couple of paper towels. The brake cleaner may eat the plastics.

Use a small glass item like a baby food jar, bar jigger or tequila shot glass and squirt in a enough to soak a Q-tip 2 or 3 times. Use genuine Q-tip with paper stem as the brake cleaner is murder on most plastics.

Dip the Q-tip in the brake cleaner and flood the surface of the boiler around the fitting determined above. The brake cleaner evaporates very quickly. Repeat several times and then leave over night. Try to remove fitting.

If you get the fitting out, rinse the boiler several times prior to putting it back in service to clear any contamination.

Make a Teflon tape wad gasket or use a copper crush ring if the boiler surface is machined smooth. DON'T USE LOCTITE ! ! !

Write Quick Mill and tell them to stop using permanent adhesives. :twisted: A machine that can't be serviced is a paperweight.

jgood (original poster)

#9: Post by jgood (original poster) »

cafeIKE wrote: If you can see the controller and the wires entering, take a photo and post.
If not, I'm guessing as I don't know the operation of the steamer, BUT
With the steamer on and fully heated, pull off the TAN wire. If the pump starts, that's low water. If not, it's the high.
Replace TAN wire and pull the RED. If the pump starts, that's low water.
Very helpful - thanks! I am thinking as a first step to identify which wire is the high water (per your instructions above) and then just lower the probe a bit and see if that helps at all. Below are photos of the Gicar unit. Do they shed any light? And I'll get a strap wrench, to be ready for the next steps!!!



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cafeIKE
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#10: Post by cafeIKE »

jgood wrote:Do they shed any light?
A little. It would be better to see the side with the label. Or a model number.
Gicar is pretty stealthy nowadays with manuals.