Rancilio Silvia E heating when turned off - Page 2

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
RancilioFan (original poster)

#11: Post by RancilioFan (original poster) »


Following another advice, I have now turned the plug by 180 degrees. Everything is working again as expected.

This is more confusing than ever as:
- the FI Security switch in our appartment does not trigger (not sure if that Part exists in the US, it is a kind of fuse which compares in/outgoing currents)
- a phasing tester does not show any electricity on the Machine itself

So if there is something shorted, it would be inside the Machine, but not hindering it to work properly and not triggering the fuse?

Is that even possible?


#12: Post by JRising »

So long as the short is just through the components and not to ground, it won't trigger the GFCI/F1 because there will still be equal current in the phase and neutral conductors.

Supporter ♡

#13: Post by Nunas »

Following another advice, I have now turned the plug by 180 degrees. Everything is working again as expected.
Wow, I was not expecting that! I'm curious about this. How many wires does your plug have, two or three? Here in Canada, it is impossible to turn around all but the very oldest plugs and plugs on a few foreign-made double-insulated appliances YOur Silvia isn't double-insulated unless they've changed the design greatly since I last had one apart. Our 3-pin plugs can only go in one way. Our 2-pin plugs, with the few exceptions already noted, are polarized, with one pin wider than the other. So, neither can be put in 'backward'. I would urge caution. I'm no expert in foreign power mains, but this does not sound right to me, even if it does work.

RancilioFan (original poster)

#14: Post by RancilioFan (original poster) »

Our plugs only have 2 Pins. It is always possible to plug it in "backwards" - and it is definitely not discouraged, I think they are just built to be in/out compatible. I have never had this behavior with a machine before.

As said before, I did test an abnormality with the Multimeter on the heater Element, but this would not explain the different behavior with the plugs. And I have no idea if the heater element has a resistance in itself...

I also think this is not a healthy situation :mrgreen:.

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#15: Post by Nunas »

The Gicar (CPU) gives us a clue to what might be happening. Pin 1 is intended to be hooked to the mains neutral line. Pins 2 and 9 are meant to be hooked to the live (hot) line. Pins 9 & 10 are a normally open relay. Pin 2 is just to power the Gicar. Pin 9 provides power, through the relay, to the machine.

Plugged correctly with the machine off, no power goes anywhere, as it is blocked by the NO (normally open) relay contacts. When the machine is on, and the relay is closed, the power returns to the neutral via temperature NC thermostatic controls T1 or T2, depending on whether you are brewing or steaming. Unless the machine is overheated, T3 is always in the circuit and NC (I assume this is the safety thermostat).

Plugged in backward with the machine off, power goes to the heater via T3. Then through T2. But T2 goes nowhere due to switch IV. The power then continues through T1 to the relay (CPU 9 & 10). Since this is normally open, power cannot flow through the heater. Therefore, somewhere, heater R is picking up ground/neutral. This would most likely be at one of the switches or the heater itself.

If your machine has never been rewired, then the latter case would be the most likely. This is also a common fault with heaters. Instead of burning out, the element sometimes shorts to the shell. You can test for this. Using your VOM on the ohms setting and with the heater wires disconnected, put one VOM lead on the ground (the frame, the boiler, or some such). Put the other lead on each of the two heater connectors. There should be no continuity. If there's a short, then one or both terminals of the heater will show a low ohms value to ground, depending on where inside the heater the short is located.

If the heater tests good, then without hands-on your machine, I can't really say what the problem is. But, I'm fairly confident that there is one.


#16: Post by nahau »

First off... can you define this statement?
RancilioFan wrote:Everything is working again as expected.

Does this simply mean the machine stopped heating when it's turned off, or does it mean the machine works totally as if nothing is wrong with it?

Isn't the AC voltage in Germany 230 volts? If you're measuring 17.58 ohms on the heating element, the power calculation gives 3000 watts... VxV/R = 230x230/17.58 = 3000 watts. I believe Silvia's are 1100 watt machines so the element resistance should be closer to 48 ohms. On the other hand, it almost looks like it's reading 17.58 k ohms but the picture is blurry next to the ohm symbol. Can you clarify?

According to the schematic, the machine is wired with neutral going to the heater, and the hot side being swtiched by the gicar. This makes sense. When you flipped the plug 180, and the machine started working "as expected", then the previous plug position must have been where hot was going to the heater, with neutral being switched by the gicar. However, even so, it doesn't make sense the machine should be working "as expected" when you flipped the plug because the gicar relay is normally open when the machine is off and so there is still no path for current regrardless of how the plug is connected to the wall.

In order for you to see heating with the machine turned off (and hot going to the heater with the plug), there still has to be a current path somewhere other than through the gicar... unless the gicar relay is bad and is shorted closed. Did you ohm out the relay on pins 9 - 10 to verify it's in fact open when the machine is turned off? Then again, if the gicar relay was shorted, the plug polarity wouldn't matter either!

I don't like the heater element resistance, regardless if it's 17.58 ohms or 17.58k ohms. It should be close to 48 ohms for 230 volts at 1100 watts.

Something is going on... and it's not a plug polarity issue.

RancilioFan (original poster)

#17: Post by RancilioFan (original poster) »

Working as expected:
- Lights were off
- Pushing the power switch meant for both lights to go on again
- Heater starting, at some point stopping
- Brewing Switch Working - coffee/water being released
- Hot Water Switch working - release of water happening
- Steam switch working as well -> but I did not let it built up much heat in fear of breaking anything more

- I did have the feeling it took longer to heat than normally, though

The reading on the multimeter is 17.58 k ohm.
Yup, our power net uses 230 volts.

I am pretty certain that I had the plug plugged in the other way round, as there is a "natural side to it". Turning it around is a bit of a hassle due to the cable being turned (example image below). So this is definitely something which changed.

I am planning to open the boiler and have a look at the heating element, as this is where both you and the guys at the German forum were pointing to. If this is burned out or shortened it could explain some of the issues. Still not all I fear.


#18: Post by nahau »

Thanks for the clarifications!

Before you pull the heating element out of the boiler, measure each lead to the boiler/chassis (ground) as @nunas mentioned in his earlier reply to see if there's a short circuit. Each lead should read an open circuit on your meter on ohms scale. If either lead is shorted or measures some resistance to the boiler, it'll confirm the cause of what you've been seeing.

RancilioFan (original poster)

#19: Post by RancilioFan (original poster) »

Hi All,
in the meantime, a shop repaired the machine for me.
In the end, the problem really was a broken heater (due to the chalky water in our region).

I am still confused about the implications this had on the machine's behavior but well, problem fixed.
Many thanks for your time!


#20: Post by sony205 »

Have you thought about purchasing a descaling system to avoid this same problem in the future? In my house in the village we have water with a lot of lime and our washing machine broke, since we bought it we can even drink from the tap.