La Pavoni Europiccola not heating

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

#1: Post by zvikico »

Hi,

I have an aging La Pavoni Europiccola. Yesterday, it stopped heating. I turn it on, the red button lights up, but the green button never turns on and the machine stays cold.

I should not that, recently, it started releasing steam from the safety pressure valve.

I'm guessing it's the thermostat. Right? Wrong? Any idea?

Thanks in advance,
zvikico

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drgary
Team HB

#2: Post by drgary »

To see if there's a short in the heating element or if the heating element has gone bad you can check out the instructions on the Orphan Espresso website here.

Also some of these machines are equipped with a thermal fuse that can go out. I don't know if it would still light up in that case. Maybe someone else can comment.

Do you descale and if so how often? If there's lots of scale buildup on the heating element that can cause damage. Also have you checked for leaks underneath?
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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homeburrero
Team HB

#3: Post by homeburrero »

drgary wrote:Also some of these machines are equipped with a thermal fuse that can go out. I don't know if it would still light up in that case. Maybe someone else can comment.
The red lights up even if the thermofuse is tripped or blown. So it probably is your thermofuse, which on your machine should be resettable (Unplug the machine, remove the bottom, and press the little red button on the fuse.)

You probably also have a problem with your pressurestat sticking closed, which would cause the overpressure release you've been seeing. Descaling may help with that. If the overpressuring persists you may need to remove it and make sure the pipe is not clogged with scale.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

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kowalej

#4: Post by kowalej »

Sounds like a problem with the heating element.

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homeburrero
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#5: Post by homeburrero replying to kowalej »

Could be, but we are hoping that it's not. Because his switch has a green and red light, he must have a thermofuse. I thought that on these they were all resettable, but after a little research it appears that the early 90's machines had the pStat/green light and a non-resettable thermofuse. If that's the case, if it's blown it would need to be replaced. To check it just make sure it has conductivity.
Pat
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drgary
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#6: Post by drgary »

If a thermofuse needs replacing it's a very inexpensive part. Scale may be an issue because if it builds up it could have caused overheating that blew the fuse and may have saved the heating element.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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homeburrero
Team HB

#7: Post by homeburrero »

homeburrero wrote:If the overpressuring persists you may need to remove it and make sure the pipe is not clogged with scale.
Just to be clear, you would remove the pStat, leaving the pipe on the boiler and cleaning it with a wire or pipe cleaner. Ideally you won't need to go that far and a good conventional descaling, followed by routine descaling (and use of low hardness water) will do the trick. I use a mix of distilled water and charcoal-filtered tap water, but some advise that you use pure distilled in these machines. If you use pure distilled you won't need to do the routine descaling.
Pat
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rpavlis

#8: Post by rpavlis »

You may be able to check for CaCO3 deposits in the tube leading to the pressure stat by holding a small diameter light (like a mini Maglite) right next to your eye and then look down through the top of the boiler with the cap removed. I purchased a 1999 Europiccola two or so years ago that had quite obviously been seldom used but that was filled with CaCO3. I first filled the boiler with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. I heated the mixture to boiling without bringing it up to pressure. There was so much carbonate that this did not remove it all, so I drained the boiler and repeated the process. This removed all of the CaCO3 in the main part of the boiler, but there was still CaCO3 visible in the tube leading to the pressure stat. The tube leading to the pressure stat was partly clogged, so the machine would not turn off until the pressure release valve opened, and then it would not turn on again for a long time, often only after the machine had cooled down to the point where there was no pressure.

I filled the machine with 50-50 vinegar water for the third time. This time I brought the machine up to pressure. I unplugged it and let it cool. I could still see CaCO3 so I brought it up to pressure again, and again let it cool. After the fourth or fifth time the CaCO3 was no longer visible in the tube. I rinsed the boiler four times with cold tap water, and once with distilled. Many people claim that using acetic acid or vinegar is a bad idea because it tastes bad. That is not quite what the problem is, acetic acid has a substantial vapour pressure, and unless you rinse the boiler thoroughly you will be able to smell it. If you rinse adequately simple mathematics will let you see that four rinses with full draining each time will leave practically no acetic acid in the system. Acetic acid is a strong enough acid to remove carbonate, and I see no reason for using a stronger one that is also a bit more corrosive. However, again, you DO need to rinse or its vapour pressure will create unpleasant results!

The reason one needs to cycle the pressure is that this drives the acidic solution into and out of the tube leading to the pressure stat. Acetic acid has a lower molecular weight than citric, and this also results in its diffusing better.

I am one of those who believes in using distilled water in lever machines. I just looked into the reservoir of the machine described above a few minutes ago, it is spotless, and it has been about two years since the episodes described above! Flavours are synergistic and the absence of ions, probably mostly Na and K, does influence flavour a bit. I happen to prefer the flavour without the ions.

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drgary
Team HB

#9: Post by drgary »

Terrific explanation Robert. I'll save that as a reference.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

zvikico (original poster)

#10: Post by zvikico (original poster) »

The Internet gods shine upon me today.

Thanks to homeburrero, I found a small rubber cap on the bottom of the machine. I removed it and found the red reset button underneath. Pressed it and the machine is working like a charm!!!!

I followed your advice and descaled the machine. I used citric acid in hot water and let it sit twice. I got most of the scale out, but I might try again with pressure as suggested by rpavlis. I rinsed the machine well, filled it, and the pressure valve is no longer kicking in.

Thank you guys so much, and especially homeburrero, for this great advice. You just saved me a lot of time and money (fixing those machines is expensive where I come from).

Best regards,
zvikico