Rocket Appartamento not heating

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

#1: Post by musica »

Hello,

My Rocket Appartamento started acting up (again...) yesterday. When I switch it on, I can hear the click of the pressurestat but the heating element does not kick in. I suppose I have to replace the latter, but I'm posting this before ordering it from Rocket just to ask your opinion and if I'm overlooking something.

Thanks.

WWWired

#2: Post by WWWired »

Hi musica :)

A great (and free) easy first step is to try resetting the high limit switches . . . it will be necessary to get inside your Appartamento and once inside, find the two High Limit Switches on top of the Steam Boiler and press the reset buttons on each one? :)

Credit: Whole Latte Love and YouTube

Here's a super video of the internals of the Appartamento and of the High Limit Switches to assist in locating them (at 10 minutes and 52 seconds into video)
Credit: Whole Latte Love and YouTube

JRising
Team HB

#3: Post by JRising »

musica wrote:Hello,

My Rocket Appartamento started acting up (again...) yesterday. When I switch it on, I can hear the click of the pressurestat but the heating element does not kick in. I suppose I have to replace the latter, but I'm posting this before ordering it from Rocket just to ask your opinion and if I'm overlooking something.

Thanks.
A pressurestat won't click when you turn the machine on, it's not a relay, just a pressure activated switch. It will click when your boiler pressure is higher than a set point. The relay that you hear click is the large relay on the powerboard.

If you find out that the problem isn't just a popped "Safety Thermostat", you're going to want to read this thread to understand the different ways different Appartamentos were wired and which parts burn depending on the wiring:

Rocket Appartamento not maintaining steam pressure

musica (original poster)

#4: Post by musica (original poster) »

Thanks for your replies.

I tried resetting the high-limit switches as explained by WWWired, but not only does pressing the buttons not produce any click at all (they're a bit loose and don't really feel like buttons in that they seem stuck and won't move when I press them), but on each one, the white plastic plug on the cables that connect to it is yellow and falling apart, as if they'd been heated too much. What I find suspect is that the other two cables look fine, so it can't be from the regular heat from the boiler. My description will perhaps be clearer if I include a picture:


Second, the boiler itself shows some discoloration at one end, as can be seen in this picture:

Based on that, which part do you think is the culprit?

JRising
Team HB

#5: Post by JRising »

Seeing the wiring on your Pressostat (the extremely thin white wire is visible in your last picture) I can tell that your Appartamento is wired up to have the powerboard monitoring the Pressostat with its own signal, and cycling the relay on the powerboard to turn the element on and off. That's leaving the powerboard to take the wear and tear, slowly burning through the contacts on its main relay.

So, my guess is that your powerboard's main relay is burnt out. Read the linked thread I mentioned in my previous post rather than having this thread also turn into a 5 page repeat of what's been answered since people started buying Appartamentos (And the old Giottos that were originally wired that way). Even though you can hear it clicking, I bet it's not closing its contacts and not powering the element's circuit.

musica (original poster)

#6: Post by musica (original poster) »

JRising wrote:Seeing the wiring on your Pressostat (the extremely thin white wire is visible in your last picture) I can tell that your Appartamento is wired up to have the powerboard monitoring the Pressostat with its own signal, and cycling the relay on the powerboard to turn the element on and off. That's leaving the powerboard to take the wear and tear, slowly burning through the contacts on its main relay.

So, my guess is that your powerboard's main relay is burnt out. Read the linked thread I mentioned in my previous post rather than having this thread also turn into a 5 page repeat of what's been answered since people started buying Appartamentos (And the old Giottos that were originally wired that way). Even though you can hear it clicking, I bet it's not closing its contacts and not powering the element's circuit.
That's correct, the P-stat is connected to control board only. So in your opinion the heating coil probably hasn't burned out and the things I pointed out, such as the plastic sheathes having turned yellow, are no indication of any overheating?

JRising
Team HB

#7: Post by JRising »

Correct. The white insulators on electrical connectors turn yellowy brown due to the heat even without overheating. The heat from the boiler and the heat from the undersized wiring leads to the yellowing without really damaging anything. When the insulators are black and bubbly, then they've been burnt.

If you plan to use the machine daily, I always suggest replacing all wiring in the heating element circuit with at least 14 gauge and wiring it through the pressostat so that the big relay on the powerboard is only switching off when the reservoir runs out of water (maybe once a day) rather than with every opening of the pressostat (maybe every 100 seconds). Or installing a sacrificial relay to take the abuse, or a solid state relay.
You can turn a little Appartamento into quite a machine by giving it the things the more expensive machines have.

musica (original poster)

#8: Post by musica (original poster) »

JRising wrote:If you plan to use the machine daily, I always suggest replacing all wiring in the heating element circuit with at least 14 gauge and wiring it through the pressostat so that the big relay on the powerboard is only switching off when the reservoir runs out of water (maybe once a day) rather than with every opening of the pressostat (maybe every 100 seconds). Or installing a sacrificial relay to take the abuse, or a solid state relay.
You can turn a little Appartamento into quite a machine by giving it the things the more expensive machines have.
Interesting. I'm no electrician so your suggestions (or what I understand thereof) seem a bit daunting. How do you install a "sacrificial" relay on those power boxes? And since I have to replace the power box, is there any from a more expensive machine that would be better and still compatible? Are there any other mods you suggest?

Edit: there are (at least) two compatible control boards for the Appartamento, i.e. the older model (A190004524) and the newer "Eco" one (A199906656). When the previous control board on my machine died a couple of years ago, I got sent the newer one under warranty, which proved to be troublesome because of that Eco mode which caused my machine to go into standby mode after 30 minutes of inactivity. I read you could bypass that Eco thing by removing a "bridge" on the board, but I never figured out what to do or what to remove, so I ended up buying an older model. Now, should I get the newer model? Are there other improvements on the older one?

JRising
Team HB

#9: Post by JRising »

Prove to yourself that it's the powerboard, before buying another. You're in Europe so your relays are potentially only burning themselves out half as fast as our 110 volt ones in North America are. I'm still betting that it's the main relay on the powerboard, but I can't be 100% certain without testing things. Are you comfortable using a multi meter and testing on a live machine?

There're a lot of previous write-ups on this subject, scattered across this forum and others.
One test to start with, if you're comfortable with it, would be to connect your multimeter leads to the Gigar's "Resistenza" connector and the other to any of the blue common neutral connections in the machine while the machine is unplugged, multimeter set to Voltage AC V~. Then plug in and turn on. If you hear the "click" of the board trying to turn Resistenza on and don't have mains power there, then you know that relay is the bad actor.

Secondly, if you post a pic of that board, someone will probably be able to spot the jumper that needs to be removed to get rid of that stupid eco mode, then you have a spare board.

Thirdly, there are many posts here about just replacing the relay on the board if you or a friend have a steady soldering hand.

musica (original poster)

#10: Post by musica (original poster) » replying to JRising »

It's not so much that I wouldn't be comfortable using a multimeter as that I wouldn't really know how to use it. Anyway I got my hands on one and did the simple tests outlined here, and the readings are 48 Ω for the Heating Element and 1 Ω for each of the high limit switches. Is that sufficient information to prove it's the control board? I'm also confident it's the control board clicking when I switch on the machine, not some other part.

By the way, my control board looks like this. It's not the model with the visible pins. Where is the Resistenza connector on this?

Here are a few more pictures: