Rancilio Silvia powered on but no heat - Page 2

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

No luck finding old parts stock?

Thanks for the information.
Jeff Sawdy

JJR2 (original poster)

#12: Post by JJR2 (original poster) »

None so far.

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#13: Post by billsd11 »

I have no boiler heat after resetting thermostat in both modes 1. espresso (top switch) and 2. steam/milk (bottom switch). Does that defiinitely mean that the boiler is the problem ?

I previously had no boiler heat only in espresso mode (top switch), but steam worked fine. Replacing the 100deg thermostat solved that problem.




#14: Post by JimG »

Try this troubleshooting guide:

If your Silvia won't heat up, here are some simple steps you can take to help isolate the problem.

Steps For Amateurs and Smart, Cautious People
  • 1. If the big orange light (BOL) next to the main power switch is steady-ON, but the boiler is not heating up, then the safety thermostat has probably tripped and needs to be reset. After you understand what caused it to overheat, then press the red button to reset the thermostat and the heater should work again. If you can't figure out what caused it to overheat, then you are running a risk of damaging yourself or your machine when you turn it back on.
    2. BOL steady-ON, but resetting the thermostat didn't fix it? Likely to be a burnt out heating element. Skip to the "experts" section below.
    3. If the BOL stays off when the machine is turned on cold, then the problem is the brew thermostat or the steam thermostat.
    4. To eliminate the brew thermostat as the cause, flip the steam switch ON. BOL comes on and boiler starts to heat? Then you can be nearly certain that your brew thermostat is defective. Spend $10 and replace it.
    5. Still no heat? Then it is probably the steam thermostat. Replace the stat and try again, or continue below.
Additional Steps for Experts and Daredevils

Further testing requires a multimeter and some understanding of electricity, thermostats, and appliance wiring. Stop now and get somebody to help you if you don't have all of these.
  • 1. Make sure the machine is completely cool and UNPLUG it. Leave it UNPLUGGED til you are done with all of the following steps.
    2. Disconnect the wire leads from the steam thermostat (this is the thermostat on the top of the boiler, on the right side, nearest the pressure valve).
    3. Use your multimeter to determine if the steam thermostat is closed, i.e. conducting. Use either the continuity tester, or the ohm-meter. If the machine is cold and you have anything less than full continuity, or any measurable resistance (more than a couple of ohms) across the bare thermostat terminals, then the steam thermostat is bad.
    4. If the steam thermostat is OK, then disconnect the wire leads from the two heater terminals in the central, top area of the boiler. Use your meter to measure the resistance (ohms) across the two bare terminals. For a 110V Silvia, you should get a reading of around 16 ohms. For a 220V Silvia, you should get a reading of around 64 ohms.
    5. If your actual readings are much higher (or if you get an indication of OL), then your heating coil is probably broken internally. Off to the shop with your Silvia :-( Take $100 or more with you.
    6. If your actual resistance readings are much lower, yet you are getting no heat, then there is something else going on that can't be diagnosed by these simple steps.
Finally, because a failing Silvia heating element can short to the boiler shell, I think it is a very good idea to plug your machine into an outlet protected by a ground fault detector (in the US, this is usually called a GFCI outlet). If the GFCI trips, then stop using the machine right away and take it to the repair shop for a new heating element/boiler top. Don't forget to take your $100+ with you.

Many other single boiler espresso machines are wired similarly. So this procedure will probably work on some other machines, too, but then again, it might not.

(This guide was first posted here on CoffeeGeek and is cross-posted on HB with Dan's blessing).


Bob Farmer

#15: Post by Bob Farmer »

My rancilio silvia started giving me the problem of tripping the thermostat. It reset and worked ok but when I came back from a short vacation, things have changed. The machine will get hot and I discovered that if I open the steam valve before I push the steam switch, I get lots of steam. Then if I shut the valve and push the steam switch and turn the valve back on, the steam quickly goes away. The thermostat will trip again eventually. Is there a solenoid that is stuck open?

The machine is new. I would send it back but I live in Mexico and will have to send it to the states.


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#16: Post by erics »

The regimen that you are describing is not necessarily normal operation AFAIK, but tripping of the safety thermostat is not normal either.

What happens if you simply turn the machine on, engage the brew switch for about 5 seconds, and then simply let the machine continue to warm up for about an hour?

After the machine is fully warmed up, engage the steam switch and (this time) wait until the light goes out. Try steaming about 4 to 5 ounces of cold water to 140-150 F. A couple of seconds after you open the steam valve, the steam light should come on again in an attempt to keep up with your steaming. After you close the steam valve, the light will probably stay on for, say 15 seconds, and then go out.

The typical procedure now would be to engage the brew switch and refill the boiler for round two.

What happens when you do all of the above?

Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com

Bob Farmer

#17: Post by Bob Farmer »

NOW I SEE! There's a button at the top that says "Post Reply." What a concept.

I left the machine on for an hour, the light never went off and the thing tripped. Sounds like a thermostat problem maybe?


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#18: Post by JimG »

Bob Farmer wrote:I left the machine on for an hour, the light never went off and the thing tripped. Sounds like a thermostat problem maybe?
It does sound like a thermostat problem, but for the boiler to overheat while in the brew mode requires that both your brew and steam thermostats are bad. Seems pretty unlikely to me that they'd both go at the same time.

There is another condition that can cause this problem. If the boiler heater element is shorting directly to the brass boiler, then a circuit can develop which bypasses the normal control provided by the brew and steam thermostats. Your machine would probably trip a GFCI outlet if this is the case. I suggest you give this a try, because if this does turn out to be the problem, your machine could be a shock hazard.


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#19: Post by erics »

For Bob -

Is the machine still under warranty? If so, I would contact the dealer and direct him to this thread AND, at the same time, be able to tell them THE EXACT STEPS you follow which cause the safety thermostat to trip.

For example, turning Silvia on when cold, it takes about 45 minutes to fully heat up. Under normal circumstances, the panel light will extinguish after, say, 5-6 minutes but then come back on in about 2 minutes. I would reconfigure my PID'ed Silvia to give you more exact timing but those are in the ballpark.

Does the panel light appear lit but dim? Exactly how long before the safety thermostat trips?

When the safety thermostat (165 degrees C) trips, all lights should go out and Silvia is "dead". Unless there is something you are unintentionally leaving out of this discussion, I agree with Jim G. - the heating element is grounded which presents a very unsafe condition. Tread carefully.


Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com

Bob Farmer

#20: Post by Bob Farmer »

Thanks for the tips and advice. I'll try all of the above and post the results.

Have a great day, unless of course you have other plans.