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.
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.
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.