Help with servicing Izzo Alex Duetto in Hong Kong (multiple problems)

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
stivesstu
Posts: 19
Joined: August 11th, 2017

Postby stivesstu » Jan 01, 2018, 11:31 pm

Hi,

I initially had a problem with the overflow tray filling up with water every time I made a coffee. I generally fixed this by fully opening and closing the pressure valve and resetting it. But I think it's on the way pout

Putting everything back together the low water alarm stopped working. I had this problem before and knew where to look but this time it's dead as a dodo (even after trying a magnet on a chopstick and replacing the sensor with a new one). There's no clicking sound as there was before so I believe it's not the magnet float which seems to be the most common problem.

Then last night the steam wand started letting off steam continuously even though it's fully tightened down.

These problem's may or may not be related and easily fixed but I seem to be half fixing one only to cause another. It's a touch disheartening but I do think it's probably time to get someone who knows what they're doing to give it a good looking over

Does anybody know an engineer I can call in Hong Kong. I can't find one to save my life.

Thanks

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BaristaBoy E61
Posts: 335
Joined: July 6th, 2015

Postby BaristaBoy E61 » Jan 02, 2018, 1:46 am

Oh no Stuart - here we go again!

Have you tried switching 'Main Water Alarm Beep' to 'Off'?
The Steam & Hot Water valves are not compression valves but needle valves. The rotating knobs apply tension to a spring that seats the valve closed. Fully tightening these valves closed might damage them.

Try the alarm switch first to see if the machine comes back to life. I'll pack a bag in the mean time...
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

stivesstu
Posts: 19
Joined: August 11th, 2017

Postby stivesstu » Jan 02, 2018, 11:02 pm

Ha ha ha.... Hi Steve, good to hear from you... and Happy New Year! If we fix these problems I'll commission a plaque and name one of the rooms after you!

I'll give you some background.

I'd noticed that the spill tray was filling up pretty quickly just making a cup or two of coffee. Sometimes the entire tray would fill during one shot sometimes there'd be virtually no water. I assumed it was the OPV (hoping it was just a bit of grit) so screwed that in and out a few times, tapped it for luck and put the machine back together. All seemed fine until the water reservoir ran out and the alarm didn't work. I tried the magnet/chopstick trick but this time, nothing. Lucky I had a spare sensor - I swapped them over but nothing (I know they both work). What's different this time is there's no clicking sound when the magnet passes over the sensor so I'm presuming the Gicar isn't receiving/processing the signal, which seems to me a more serious problem. I hadn't touched any parts that could have caused this failure - well, not knowingly anyway.

The bane of the Duetto self-repair man is dropping the case screws and washers into the body of the machine and trying to fish them out. In doing that I think I may have rested the machine on the group and tilted it to rest also on the steam valve knob. That is probably the reason why the steam cannot be switched off. I can't say for sure but it seems likely. It's not fully open but open enough to stop pressure building up in the boiler

Of the two problems, the steam is the pain since I can't leave the machine on to test or use. I'm guessing the thing to do is remove the badge, unscrew the knob and see what's there to adjust.

I did try switching the Main Water Alarm to Off but didn't really pay much attention because of the steam hissing. I'll have a closer look. If that's fixed then at least that's one problem less to think about.

I'll have another quick look this morning and take a photo of the front panel with the machine warmed up if that helps.

Cheers

stivesstu
Posts: 19
Joined: August 11th, 2017

Postby stivesstu » Jan 02, 2018, 11:48 pm

Image

Image

Image

Here's a few photos if they're any use. As it happens the steam badge came off as I was turning the knob, which is probably a good sign. The first photo was taken after a few minutes of the machine being on. The last shows the extent of the steam. I'd say that the steam valve is probably more than 80% stuck open.

I'm not playing with anything else until I know what I'm doing :oops:

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BaristaBoy E61
Posts: 335
Joined: July 6th, 2015

Postby BaristaBoy E61 » Jan 03, 2018, 12:27 am

Hi Stuart and Happy New Year to you too. I'm taking up your challenge; hopefully we can be successful again. In the meantime, I'm trying to arrange a cheap flight to Hong Kong on credit card points; my wife is dutifully out shopping as we speak to do her part to help out with any purchase she can. I'm in grueling negotiations with Air Canada to use these 'Points' with them under an 'Espresso Doctors Without Borders' regime. I used to have influence with the Queen but she tells me Hong Kong is no longer part of the Commonwealth.

I think you have multiple problems so let's start one at a time. First I would set the reservoir, direct plumb alarm switch to 'Main Water Alarm Beep' to 'Off'. I would also turn the Steam Boiler power switch to 'Off'. Then I would see if the machine powers 'On' and heats up the Brew Boiler properly (with water in the reservoir of course).

If the Brew Boiler heats up properly I would check for water leakage. If there is no water leakage I would pull a straight shot of espresso and then see if there is any leakage. If you only have leakage at that point then the leakage would likely be related to the pump operation.

Try this, get estimates on 'The Plaque' and let me know what happens.

We'll worry about the Steam Valve later.

Cheers,

Steve
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

stivesstu
Posts: 19
Joined: August 11th, 2017

Postby stivesstu » Jan 08, 2018, 9:12 am

Ha ha ha....very good. Apologies for the late reply but I've had friends from Thailand staying in your room over Christmas and New Year, and I don't like to slack on the in-room service, although the missus does most of it. Hong Kong is fantastic in Nov/Dec but it's dropping to 8C tomorrow. Nothing like Montreal, obviously, but the chill still gets up your trouser legs in a very uncomfortable manner.

So, following your advice I turned the steam boiler off and checked the main boiler. Everything looked fine with no water leaks that I could see. I tried making a coffee a few days ago but in the process filled up the entire water spill tray (it actually overflowed and blew the electric). I'm pretty sure all this water was expelled through the overflow pipe but can't say for certain.

Just tried again and before I'd half filled a cup, the tray was full to overflowing. All of the water came out of the overflow pipe. From what I've read this would appear to be a faulty or failing OPV but we'll soon find out I guess.

My father received an OBE about 20 years ago - sadly not from the Queen. But you would hope that together with this sort of clout we could muster a 30 second audience. I'm sure she likes coffee.

Does this mean I have to buy a gold plated plaque? I'm not sure if my spare bedroom is posh enough any more.

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BaristaBoy E61
Posts: 335
Joined: July 6th, 2015

Postby BaristaBoy E61 » Jan 08, 2018, 12:52 pm

Hi Stuart, It seems the source of the water is related to the other end of the tube appearing at the centre of the drip tray. However, it does seem like the excess water develops when the pump becomes active either when pulling a shot or filling a boiler.

I'm suspecting either a pump seal or the pump itself. I would suggest as a next step to monitor the pump, with its drain tube at the pump, while it's in operation. If the problem is the OPV, it will leak at some point without pump operation. You might get lucky and find that something is just loose.

I'm still hoping 'The Plaque' will not have to be plated with 'Fools' Gold'! Time will tell...

Cheers,

Steve
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

stivesstu
Posts: 19
Joined: August 11th, 2017

Postby stivesstu » Jan 10, 2018, 5:29 am

Hi Steve,

Okay, that gives me something to focus on. I would go as far as to say 100% of the excess water is produced only when pulling a shot because other than then the machine powers up, reaches the correct pressures, etc and looks and acts completely normal. But pull a shot and the water pours out of the overflow at the same rate as the head, if not faster.

Making a single cup now uses about 3/4 of the reservoir and of course the coffee's undrinkable because the water is now only lukewarm. It's interesting that the boiler pressure is maintained without leaking but the plumbing completely fails when I draw water out of it

Will report back soon.

Cheers

stivesstu
Posts: 19
Joined: August 11th, 2017

Postby stivesstu » Jan 10, 2018, 7:21 am

Hi Steve,

Just tried again with the machine at full working heat, cover off, steam boiler off, water alarm off, and the drip tray removed to get a good view of the overflow pipe and the components inside.

Before using it there were no leaks of any kind, no hissing or strange noises. I saw no leaks while pulling a shot although the entire water reservoir was still used to make one cup - all of the water discharged through the single overflow pipe. I collected the water in a tray underneath and it was cold. I don't know if this is relevant but water also came out of the steam wand at a reasonable pace despite being switched off. Whether this was just water in the pipes or indicative of the problem I can't say. There was too much water all over the place.

Whatever it is that failed, it took a few weeks. This has gone from wasting a little more water than it used to, to sometimes wasting a lot and sometimes none, to now not working at all.

From what you're saying it's more likely to be the pump, which means I guess it'll have to come out and be checked. Gulp.... :shock:

Cheers

Giampiero
Posts: 24
Joined: January 19th, 2016

Postby Giampiero » Jan 11, 2018, 2:13 am

Hi Stivesstu, my 2 cents opinion, i will first try to check the steam valve, if the big brass washer has gone loose, ( it should be firmly screwed to the knob) it will keep the shaft pulled off.
Remove the clip from the shaft and unscrews the knob from the valve, then try to activate the steam boiler and check if the steam wand still leaking, if still leaking obviously there is some problem in the seal valve itself.
Second, it seems your steam boiler get overfilled while pulling a shot, so could be the refilling solenoid valve has stuck open or leaking.

 
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