Resolved: Anita boiler and steam troubles

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

#1: Post by CambodianBeast »

After a couple great years with Anita, it is finally time to deal with a first malfunction.

As Anita reaches its target temperature, I am noticing a leak from the top of the boiler - not purely a steam leak as far as I can tell, but rather a bubbling area that spreads across the top of the boiler (at which time I shut it off, and the leak quickly subsides).

I believe the leak is coming from the base of the vertical gold-colored cylinder I have highlighted in the picture below



Sorry, I don't know what it's called. I may turn it on again to pinpoint the source of the leak, but on the other hand I don't want to jeopardize any electrical parts.


Incidentally, the leak seems to have appeared immediately following a descaling of the machine (w/ Cleancaf).


Any ideas as to what a likely source of the leak may be?


TIA

User avatar
erics
Supporter ★

#2: Post by erics »

The cylindrical part you identified is the boiler's safety relief valve which screws into the top surface with 1/4" BSPP threads. It is sealed by means of a copper sealing washer as shown here:

http://www.bellabarista.co.uk/Parts/aND ... OCHURE.pdf

Although this is a parts catalog for the Andreja, the boiler components are identical to Anita. With the machine cold and UNPLUGGED, clean the top of the boiler with Q-tips moistened with white vinegar and, as you say, PINPOINT the source of the leak. Anita's boiler top is sorta crowded and it is easy to be fooled as to the actual source. If you respond with the confirmed source of the leak, I'll provide some repair options.
Skål,

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

CafelatStore: home of Cafelat products online
Sponsored by CafelatStore
CambodianBeast (original poster)

#3: Post by CambodianBeast (original poster) »

Thanks Eric.

Upon further inspection I now believe the problem is at the [safety valve?] I point to below. There is significant scale built up in the small reservoir that surrounds it, and the water on the boiler appears to result from an overflow of that reservoir.

For a few months, I've been noticing one or two "spurting" sounds (which I interpret to be from this valve momentarily opening) that occurs at around 212F, and last about half a second each. Could a piece of scale have lodged in this valve and caused it to malfunction?



CambodianBeast (original poster)

#4: Post by CambodianBeast (original poster) »

A quick update:

I've confirmed the issue - I think.

For some reason, the [safety valve] reservoir is overflowing as the boiler reaches boiling point. The overflow water then boils on top of the boiler, creating the effect I mentioned in the original post. What's worse - the water that fills the reservoir when the valve momentarily opens then begins to boil, and expansion carries more water and steam to surrounding structures.

I was able to see this as it happened - after overflowed water evaporated, there was no further leaking.

The machine then reached target temp and held steady.

Do I need a new valve?

User avatar
erics
Supporter ★

#5: Post by erics »

That is the vacuum breaker valve - about $12 new from Chris' Coffee and others. Disassembled, it is shown below:

Remove the top nut with an 11/16" wrench/socket while applying a counterhold to the boiler assembly. Perhaps invite a friend over for post repair espresso. Remove the three parts on the left and soak in white vinegar for about 30-45 minutes. Rinse and reinstall. The body of the valve (on the right) is screwed into the boiler and sealed with thread sealant. Typically, this is well sealed and does not present a problem. The hissing and spitting around 212 is normal as the boiler comes up to pressure but it should sputter for a couple of seconds and then seal shut.

If this does not fix the problem, it is time for a new valve.
Skål,

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

CambodianBeast (original poster)

#6: Post by CambodianBeast (original poster) »

Thanks again Eric.

One last issue - I now have extremely wet steam and I suspect the boiler level probe may need to be looked at. I believe the picture below shows the boiler level probe as seen from the left side of the machine. Should I unscrew the bottom nut, or the middle one?

BTW is there a simple way to gain better access to that area?

TIA


User avatar
erics
Supporter ★

#7: Post by erics »

BTW is there a simple way to gain better access to that area?
It is cramped. The best bet is to remove the top nut of the level probe and carefully remove the probe itself by twisting and pulling upwards at the same time. The teflon insulating/sealing sleeve should be LEFT IN PLACE. Clean the probe with emery cloth or equivalent and replace.
Skål,

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

La Marzocco · Home: customized for espresso aficionados
Sponsored by La Marzocco · Home
CambodianBeast (original poster)

#8: Post by CambodianBeast (original poster) »

Got it.

I removed, cleaned and replaced the boiler level probe, but I am still getting a steady trickle of water with my steam (most obvious with the tip off - with the tip on it's a wet mess). Are there other "usual suspects" I should be looking at? I'm not detecting any obvious leaks.

TIA

CambodianBeast (original poster)

#9: Post by CambodianBeast (original poster) »

One more issue... *sigh* it seems this ordeal will never end.

With Anita now fully heated (1.15 bar), the autofill mechanism seems to be triggering (literally) every 5 seconds for a short ~1 second burst. This pattern began shortly after flushing the last of the descaling solution through the heat exchanger.

Any ideas?

User avatar
erics
Supporter ★

#10: Post by erics »

Yes, but is the leak from the vacuum breaker valve fixed ??

Does the boiler fill kick in (for a few seconds) when the machine is INITIALLY warming up? This is normal.

The boiler fill should also kick in sometime during a steaming adventure - possibly a few short bursts as you describe. Having the boiler fill kick in at any other time (as you describe) could possibly be due to a momentary loss of contact - either at the probe or at the Gicar box.
Skål,

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