Another Pasquini Livia 90 S needs help!

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.

#1: Post by Febbre »

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, as well to the world of espresso machines. I can unscrew bolts and unplug pipes, but I'm no expert.

We have this Pasquini Livia 90 S, which has served our parents for many years. It has been stored for the last 15 years in the basement and now we have decided to bring it back to the kitchen.

It turns on, it does some noise like I've seen in many videos, the orange and green light come on, then the noise ends and nothing happens. The pressure doesn't built, brewing does't happen.

I opened the machine, and after looking at a few videos and blog posts I did a few experiments. First of all I lightly descaled the water vessel and the water sensor. Still nothing.

Then I unplugged the pipe going from the vessel to what I understand is the vibration pump (A in the photo). I want to follow the water and see where it stops. Water comes out of this pipe.

I replugged in that pipe and unscrewed the end of the pipe coming out of the pump (B in the photo). I turned on the machine, and tried to brew. I understand this is how you prime this machine. Water doesn't come out of this pipe. The pump vibrates and makes what seems to be normal noise, but nothing happens. Actually, what happens is that water flows out of the bottom part of that metal pipe, the one where the plastic one gets bolted. Weird, I don't understand where that water comes from (D in second photo).

This makes me think I need a new pump, and these ones seem to be fairly common. Is there any other experiment I need to do before buying a new pump?

I also realised that the connector (C) wasn't plugged. I looked at a few photos of people repairing the Pasquini in this forum and I realised that it was connected as you see in photo (C). Anyway it didn't change the situation. (What is this connector, by the way?)

What would you say? Thanks for your help :)


#2: Post by austinado16 »

Hello and welcome to the forum. We're hear for you!

"C" is the ground wire. All of the yellow with green wires are ground wires for the onboard Controller.

The pump probably has both a stuck check valve (mushroom cap) in that brass outlet end, and a failed rubber o-ring in the middle section of the pump. Here's mine taken apart...

You can replace that little black o-ring with a standard plumbing o-ring from whom ever locally has a hardware or plumbing store, or an automotive parts store. The mushroom cap is up inside the brass piece, and you can poke up inside there with a long allen key, or the bottom end of a drill bit (sized to fit into the little opening where the mushroom cap seals). So look inside with a little LED pen light, and you'll see the opening and a black colored thing in the way. Give it a gentle push and until it frees up. It has a spring above it, so once it's free, it will spring back and forth against you pushing on it and not pushing on it. You can flush it with hot water, and blow though with your mouth to confirm it's working. It's actually a on-way valve.

The Giemme Controller (the black box) is looking for inputs when you turn the machine on. The green light tells you that the machine is "alive" and hasn't been shut down by the Controller. The orange light tells you the boiler heating element is "on." When the boiler element is turned off, the orange light will also turn off.

So when you turn the machine on, the Controller wants to see that there is water in the water tank, to a level above the stainless nut that you see in there. If that nut is corroded, or the yellow-and-green grounding wire isn't attached to the other side of the nut, the Controller will not allow the machine to function. Using distilled water will also trigger a no function situation. The Controller needs minerals in the water, in order to receive a resistance ground signal. So that is step 1 in the operation process.

The Controller also looks at the resistance ground from both of the water level sensing rods in the boiler. Both of those need to be shiny clean, and the ground wire "C" needs to be connected to a clean, non-corroded, connector. So that is step 2.

When the Controller "sees" water is in the tank, and the boiler water level is low, it switches on the water pump AND it triggers the relay you show, to divert water to the boiler, instead of to the group for brewing. The pump will be turned off when the boiler signals full.

Because there's no way to get the water out of the machine for storage, you are very likely to have solenoid valves (there are 2 of them) that are corroded inside and stuck. You may be able to remove and disassemble them, clean the brass parts in Cafiza, get them all freed up, and working again. If there are o-rings, you can replace them just like the one in the water pump.

Let us know how it goes. I just purchased one in January and everyone here was very helpful and patient with my questions and process.

Febbre (original poster)

#3: Post by Febbre (original poster) »

Thank you very much, I love this level of detail.

I think I understood the whole message but not this part:
When the Controller "sees" water is in the tank, and the boiler water level is low, it switches on the water pump AND it triggers the relay you show, to divert water to the boiler, instead of to the group for brewing. The pump will be turned off when the boiler signals full.
I don't understand what relay means in this context.
Another thing I don't get: doesn't the water need to go trhough the boiler before going through the group for brewing?

By chance, while looking for a new pump, I managed to chat with someone at the specialised website. Weirdly enough he was working late on a Frida. I took advantage and quickly explained the situation (without photos and details). He said that it's likely that the group is clogged and needs cleaning; if that's clean, then he would have a look at the solenoid. I don't understand how the group would prevent the pump to let water through. I have not yet gone so far to understand what the solenoid is and does.

Going back to your message, austinado16, you suggest to take apart the pump and check it's not blocked - and substitute the o-ring.
Then check that my ground connector is not corroded. If that is the case? Can it be cleaned?
Then clean the solenoid rods (which I guess can easily get unscrewed from the cylindrical body). I can give the group a clean as well, seems the easiest thing to do, here.

This looks like fun!

Team HB

#4: Post by JRising »

Febbre wrote: I think I understood the whole message but not this part:

I don't understand what relay means in this context.
Another thing I don't get: doesn't the water need to go trhough the boiler before going through the group for brewing?
Austinado meant "Solenoid valve" when he said relay. Other than that, his response is spot on that your pump needs to be primed. If you take the little black ball on a spring out from the outlet end of the pump, then put it back in that will probably free it up enough that the pump can start moving water through itself. (Little black ball on spring is the "outlet check valve" of the pump and they get stuck when they sit too long.

Additionally: The reason water comes from the "D" end when the machine is trying to run is that the solenoid valve is open to let water in, but gravity is letting it run backward past the open valve and drip to the floor of the machine... But that's OK... The solenoid valve opens and closes properly, that proves it.


#5: Post by austinado16 »

I would suggest making sure that both of the water sensor rods in the boiler are clean and shiny. There's a video on youtube of how to do this on a Livia. Examine the contact for the ground at the bottom of the boiler and scrape it clean as needed. Same goes for the sensor located in the side of the white plastic water tank. Once the Controller is able to receive the input from these 3 water sensors, it will turn on the water pump, and the pump will run until the sensor in the boiler tells the Controller that the boiler is full. The water pump will then be shut off.

With water in the water tank, you should be able to turn "on" the switch next to the green light, and that should make the pump run, and water should flow from the Group head. If the machine won't do this, you'll want to remove, disassemble, clean, and confirm function of both of the solenoid valves. One is located at your position "D" and the other is located rearward of the brew switch and green light assemblies.

You'll also want to confirm (and it sounds like maybe you have, by the leak at "D") that the water pump does, in fact, pump water. If the pump does work, there's no need (right now) to replace that little o-ring shown in my photo, or pursue freeing the mushroom cap.

Febbre (original poster)

#6: Post by Febbre (original poster) »

Just to be clear, B for ne is the end of the white pipe, which bolts into D. Now, better to use the Pasquini manual. B is an end of TAV. 11. in figure 1. D is the upward end of TAV. 11. in figure B.
Figure 1

Figure 2

When I unscrewed B for D to check if water was coming out of the pipe, water didn't come out of B. Instead slowly pouring upwards of the end of the D. Do you think this proves that the pump works?

Anyway, this weekend I'll clean the group, I'll clean some of those connections, I'll have a look at the solenoid sensors. I saw a bunch of youtube videos that explain how to do all these things. There's someone on yt which takes apart the pump and replaces a little rubber ring and the plastic ball inside the pump. I'll keep you posted.

Another silly quesiton: there's two pieces of black foam with an aluminium sheet, which looks like thermal protective foam. It's disintegrating. How to replace this? Does it need to be replaced?


#7: Post by austinado16 »

TAV11 is the output from the water pump. So when you operate the pump, water should be coming out of this. If it's not, (since you know water DOES flow out of the water tank hose to the pump, you know the pump isn't working. That going to be due to either a failed o-ring, and/or a stuck mushroom cap, as I described earlier.

Once you have the water pump actually pumping water out of TAV11, reconnect that pipe to the 2-way solenoid valve, turn the machine on and see if the machine will function on it's own, normally. And turn on the brew switch and see if the water pump will turn on, and push water out of the group.

Febbre (original poster)

#8: Post by Febbre (original poster) »

An update:

I took the pump out and opened it. Indeed the union elbow of the pump needed poking. Blowing inside wouldn't make anything happen giving the impression it was blocked. After poking I felt something elastic moving, like a spring, and blowing in would produce the sound of air going through a gap.
The bell o ring snapped, it was quite stiff. So now I need to replace that before putting it together.

Since I was at it, I took out the group. It was in dire conditions.

The gasket wouldn't come out and I needed to break it to take it out.
The shower screen wouldn't detach from the shower head, so it got a bit damaged in the effort to take it out. No big deal, I've got a new one.

I cleaned in some cafiza group and head, but I'm not sure about the head: would it need to be replaced?

The group head might need some more scraping.

I also realised I have two spare gaskets. They are flat on one side and curved on the other: what's the part that goes in the head, the flat or the curved?


#9: Post by austinado16 »

Great job so far Fransico!

Those parts will all come cleaner if you'd like, and be fine to use. Extremely hot water, with Cafiza and an old tooth brush, followed by a scrub with "Bar Keepers Friend" using the tooth brush. And then poke through the holes with drill bits, or allen keys, in order to make sure there's no crud in them.

The Portafilter Gasket is installed with the flat side facing upward into the Bell (that's what the chrome part is called). You can also use the 58mm silicone gaskets that are made now, and they are just flat on both sides. They come in 2 different thicknesses; 8mm and 8.5mm

You'll want to save that Bell because that version of it appears to be no longer available. The version that's now available has a raised band around the top, so you have to purchase a brass spacer in order to install it. Yours will be fine.

Nice job discovering that the pump was clogged in that mushroom cap check valve. Make sure the little plastic ball is still 4mm in diameter because if it's worn down too small, it won't seal against the end of the piston, and the pump won't work.

Febbre (original poster)

#10: Post by Febbre (original poster) »

Thank you! At this point next updates will be in a few weeks time, perhaps 3. I need to buy the replacements and I'll be away for a bit. I saw that there are some glass balls sold, and somewhere I read they are equally fine if not better.

In the meanwhile I'll keep cleaning the group components. Is it ok to use the bar keepers friend on the bell?

And again, in the machine there's a black foam which has disintegrated, not sure if it's there for vibration protection/damper or thermal protection? How to replace that?

Thanks for all your help!