Lelit Bianca - Steam Boiler Over Pressurized - Page 8

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
Auctor
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#71: Post by Auctor »

slybarman wrote:Does ECM use the same Gicar as there were reports of at least a few ECM machines have same or very similar issue?
I was part of the original thread where Jim had spoken to 1st Line Jim, and I was the Synchronika owner. My issues were related to my use of TWW, and i (knock on wood) did not and do not have any over-pressure issues.

I'm not sure if there were others in the ECM/Profitec family that had over-pressure issues, but to my knowledge, I've not seen another complaint here on HB regarding this issue.

Bluenoser
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#72: Post by Bluenoser »

Clutch wrote:Very scary thread as I am currently waiting on a Bianca to arrive. With Clive Coffee's recommendation, I did purchase TWW Espresso packets that I had planned on mixing with distilled water (checked with TDS meter @ 0 ).
I created a thread recently about scale in my HX after 3 years.. I exclusively used RO water(from only 1 source with TDS < 10) and TWW. I had significant scale in 3 years as shown in the pics on my mushroom.. plus my boiler pressure gauge stopped working.. There is a thin copper tube running to it and I assume scale has built up and blocked it.

So if I had to do over, I'd use distilled and Potassium BiCarb.. I don't think all the scale came from the RO since it was from a brand new install in a small store I go to and it often measures < 5 .. so can't see there being much in there.. My TWW TDS measures 160 in a 5 gal mix.

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another_jim
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#73: Post by another_jim »

You may be missing the point. The immediate cause off the problem is a film forming on the thermocouple sheath. If the film forms more readily the lower the minerality of the water, it is more likely to be corrosion of the sheath than mineral depostis from the water If that is the case; the sheathes ultimately nneed to be replaced.

This is still tentative. But saying over and over how water with a Langelier index below seven doesn't scale and therefore cannot cause this problem will hardly help if the problem is corrosion related. If the film is from metal corrosion, the temporary fix will be using harder (i.e. higher alkalinity water, and the permanent fix will be a recall and replacement of the sheathes.
Jim Schulman

Clutch

#74: Post by Clutch »

Just an update

Clive's service department has been difficult to communicate with. Response times have been really very slow. I had received no response from when the safety valve released on 4/9 until 4/14 after having to ask for an update multiple times and explain my frustration to their customer care rep. Finally, I received an email from support and after asking about my water, and providing my analysis (brita water) they said that they could send a sensor, or exchange the machine. I said I would like to try the sensor first since that would be the best solution for everyone if it works, but I did ask if I could exchange the machine if that does not work.

I waited a few days for a response, sent another email asking for an update on if they were planning to send a sensor. They said that they were, and I would receive a tracking number when it's available. I received that communication 4/17. I have not received a tracking number yet.

Sorry to say, I'm regretting my purchase decisions, regretting the machine choice, and choice of vendor so far. This has been, in general, a bad experience overall.

Anyway, not to dwell on my own issues. LuccaM58pi - I'm sorry that you are having a similar experience with your machine and that Clive is consistent in their inability to help their customers feel taken care of. Even if the issue is not solved, there should still be a feeling that you are a priority.

I do think it is interesting that some other manufacturers are having this issue. It would be helpful if someone at one of these companies would actually do a root cause analysis of the problem to pinpoint the solution. I'm not confident that a replacement of sensors without manufacturers acknowledgement of the issue will do anything to avoid this in the future.

PID control of the steam boiler doesn't really seem necessary anyway - a pressurestat should do just fine, isn't that what these machines used previously anyway?

Oh well - will have to continue to wait

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#75: Post by 1st-line »

Hi All,

Jim S emailed me over 10 days ago. Just a few follow up notes...

a) Please understand all of us in our industry are overwhelmed! Yes, I speak to my competitors (except one), and they are just as much as overwhelmed as we are. In fact, we even received calls over the last few weeks for help on machines we do not sell. ie Kr*ps, Brev**le, Ham**ton Be*ch, etc. They all complain they have a hard time getting through to someone for help. I and my staff are also guilty of not getting back as fast as we would like. We even have lost some employees from burn out. All I ask is to be patient with all of us in the industry. I also apologize as I do not get any notifications on from Home Barsita when there are responses. It is crazy times.

b) I have re-reviewed all the information here. There are some things to understand - 220 volt machines in other countries can be faster in this issue than the 110 volts - as the voltage difference decreases the warm up time. Second, there seems to be some intermingled issues with low heat and no heating - these are usually different issues.

c) Keep in mind, the issues here are a very small sample of machines sold. We are no longer talking Lelit selling tens of machines, and not even hundreds of Lelits in North America. If I told you how many Biancas were sold worldwide, every one would fall off their chairs. So, the water issues noted here are a small subset. There are several that are not at all posted here, too. But in reality, the issue is not as significant as the folks here would think. However, last year, it was an increasing issue with these distilled water plus mineral packets issues or mineral-added formulas. Once announced here, we saw the case count drop. There were other issues whereby pure water was creating boilers to overfill.

d) I have personally seen this issue on various machine makes and models, not just Lelit. In fact, we just had a Minima with the same issue this week. Is it a Gicar issue as some propose? Maybe, as I never discount any possibility. However, then it would significantly be a much larger problem and I would see a lot more of it based on machines sold across all makes and models.

Water Expert?
If I have not already, I admit I am NOT a water expert. However, I do try to solve the underlying causes. However, not being a water expert, I do not have a complete answer other than cleaning the PID sensor.
https://www.1st-line.com/technical-supp ... it-bianca/
which has worked in every case except a few where the dual red wires were twisted and in one case where a customer pulled out the red wires and we sent replacements. Some customers who believe it was not the water later realized that the cleaning worked. After addressing the water issue, these problems did not come back.

Lelit hired a water expert this past January, and he even states there is no perfect water for espresso machines. They continue to test and develop a solution. Lelit and one other company are the only ones I know with a staff member who is a water expert in our industry.

When I spoke to Lelit last year and as someone mentioned here in another country, they stated the PID sensor was to be replaced. My pushback to Lelit was that this did not solve the root cause. If the water was not changed, the problem would resurface. Case in point, our NJ customer who had the Elizabeth for which we replaced the machine. He has not had any issues now since he uses tap water through a Brita and the Lelit water softener. The PID sensor is the same.

As far as his Elizabeth machine with issues, we just received a new steam boiler to insert. Why? Because Lelit said. I had a strong suspicion that water caused internal damage. Just to make you aware in our testing, we even replaced the PID sensor with two other versions - problem still existed. This is why I am thinking logically there is something that damaged this boiler. Well, another reason for my delay in responding was that the new steam boiler was enroute. We found the issue of the over-pressure steaming. After scoping the boiler, we found the heating element had corrosion on the element itself. Very weird.

As for the Biancas, I have seen limescale from hard water, oxidation from more of the purified waters, and even in some cases, and wire brushed off thin invisible film from RO waters as well as these designer waters. In some cases, I see issues pop up in as little as 2 weeks. The problem is that when the PID sensor has a film, corrosion, oxidation, or limescale, the sensor will read a lower temp than what it actually is in the steam boiler. Thus, the steam pressure gauge thrusts above 3 bar, and at 3.5 bar the safety valve can emit excessive steam towards the front spout. Now, in some cases, the sensor may stabilize later after the warm up.. I can only think that the PID sensor is partially 'gunked up' and the rapid full heat of the steam boiler makes this come into play as opposed to a pulsating power to the heating element later on to maintain temp.

If the water is too pure, the steam boiler will overfill with the pump constantly running.

Conclusion
Logically, if the sensors have failed because of damage to the sheath or any permanent damage, why would cleaning the PID sensor resolve the issue? This is why if there is an issue, clean the sensor and get a different water. If the problem is resolved, then it points to certain waters. If after cleaning it does not resolve, then I say replace the sensor and use a different water. Then see what happens.

Personally, I do like the Lelit water softener with the use of mixture of filtered tap water. IMHO, RO, distilled, and any purified water is a NO-GO for me. Lastly, this is my opinion based on experiences with customers. Water experts and metal experts can chime in as I am open ears, but they better know how these machines work. Yes, we can blame Gicar or the PID sensor manufacturers, but I can guarantee there will be some waters that will just not work.

Thanks for reading. Now off I go... back to assisting customers.
Jim Piccinich
www.1st-line.com
1st-line Equipment, LLC

Bluenoser
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#76: Post by Bluenoser »

Thanks for such a detailed answer. I've had my Profitec for nearly 3 years, and my RO + TWW has not messed up the probe, even though I have recently discovered some significant scale on my mushroom (when my boiler pressure gauge stopped working because the thin copper tube is choking). I thought RO + TWW would be scale free.. but not the case. It's tough for customers to know what to put into their machines. My vendor in Canada does not recommend customer descaling.. likely because users don't do a thorough job and cause more problems than they solve. (I've read numerous threads here about the BDB problems after user descaling).. But in rural Canada, there are zero espresso support people and so unless a customer completely disassembles and descales, it won't get done. Paying for shipping both ways for a descale is not only 100s of dollars, but likely will cause other damage to a heavy machine.

I think its great that Lelit has a water specialist. But I would think that manufacturers would want to do some experimentation with a water recipe that can guarantee no scale and non-issues (taste would be a secondary issue to failures).. Since everyone's tap water varies so much.. I would think the only sane way to start is to use distilled and some remineralization (such a potassium bicarb) and then try to track down what machines have issues and why.. If they got solved, the customer could at least have one water recipe that is guaranteed to work with their machine.

I thought I was using great water in my HX, only to find too much scale in less than 3 years.. This type of maintenance issue is why I'm now shying away from these boiler type of machines and sticking with the manual levers.

EDIT: I didn't miss Jim S previous point on that it was not a scale issue but a chemical reaction issue.. but after reading the problems on the Lelit, the post on alkalinity vs ph and my own issues with copper corrosion .. it seems that if they want to sell espresso machines to the masses, the manufacturers could do more R&D which would lead to better info that could prevent users running up against failures due to water chemistry.

Clutch

#77: Post by Clutch »

Thanks for the feedback Jim. Understand the industry is having issues (seems like every industry is in some sort of turmoil).

Also I understand your experience on resolving these issues and why you believe that there is a film causing the temperature to read low. What doesn't make sense to me is that when I watch my PID readout of the steam boiler during an over pressure event, the temperature is not consistently low. The temperature is erratic jumping from 235 and bouncing around that temp +\-5deg at the sensor or gicar's refresh rate to 300 back to 235 in a matter of seconds. This erratic behavior seems to start and worsen as the boiler heats up. To me, this sounds like a sensor signal issue, not a slow reaction or a poor conduction to the boiler water/vapor. Additionally, I've taken the advice given here and used Brita filtered tap that has been tested and falls well within acceptability and I am also using the Lelit in tank softener.

Clive is supposed to be sending me a sensor. When I install, I will inspect for a film and any corrosion in the boiler. I'll look at electrical connections as well. I'm hoping a sensor is the fix, because if TWW is bad, rpavlis is bad and my Brita water is bad, what water would I use?

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slybarman

#78: Post by slybarman »

Until now, I don't think I ever really appreciated how lucky I am the tap water where I am is good. This sounds like a giant headache.

Clutch

#79: Post by Clutch »

Well I think that is my point. My tap water is good.

After a standard brita filter...

KH: 26.85ppm - 53.7ppm
GH: 17.5ppm
TDS meter: 66ppm

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slybarman

#80: Post by slybarman » replying to Clutch »

I am NOT any sort of water expert. In fact I know almost nothing beyond the fact it's wet. The people here that do know also had me check alkalinity and PH when I tested mine. If you haven't already, maybe give those a check as well. Mine was


Hardness: 40-55 mg/L or 2-3 grains per gallon (my own testing with strips gave 25 mg/L but that was after running through the refrigerator EveryDrop filter)
Alkalinity: 30-40 mg/L calcium carbonate
Chlorides: 4 ppm or 4 mg/L sodium
PH: 7.5-8