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Stuck on steam, silvia


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I have a roughly 7 year old Silvia who has been an absolute beast until a short while ago. After frothing milk the steam knob seemed to be stuck open. I am afraid I used too much pressure and broke or stripped something. 

The maching can still steam, it just cannot turn off. I suspect a valve or something is stuck open, therefore I cannot brew espresso. 

When I tried to get the knob unstuck it actually came out. This has happened before, but it could always be slipped back in. This time there is a loose clip, and the knob just spins. It has a very different feel. Instead of reaching a point where it feels done, it just seems to slip and I feel it turn heavy.

I don't know if a new knob, clip will help, or if it's something deeper.

I should also mention I am not terribly handy. I have never disassembled my machine, and frankly, am afraid to do so.

Any advice or suggestions would be most helpful

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Take a look inside the spindle end of the plastic knob, is the plastic chewed up or can you clearly see a 'flat' inside ?  is the spring clip broken ? 

If you have forced the steam valve open you may have damaged / split the inside of the steam knob. If this is the case a new knob and spring MAY correct it.

It is also possible there is scale / corrosion in the steam valve which is making it too tight to turn causing the damage to the knob.

It will be necessary to release the spindle and check for free / easy movement or you may damage the new knob.

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On 22/02/2021 at 06:40, El carajillo said:

Take a look inside the spindle end of the plastic knob, is the plastic chewed up or can you clearly see a 'flat' inside ?  is the spring clip broken ? 

If you have forced the steam valve open you may have damaged / split the inside of the steam knob. If this is the case a new knob and spring MAY correct it.

It is also possible there is scale / corrosion in the steam valve which is making it too tight to turn causing the damage to the knob.

It will be necessary to release the spindle and check for free / easy movement or you may damage the new knob.

I am not sure what you mean by releasing the spindle. I apologize, I am rather green when it comes to these matters. I have a couple pictures of the knob. I am able to remove the top plate, to view down into my machine, but it is hard to get a good look at where the knob would be inserted.spacer.pngspacer.png

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16 minutes ago, Kathryn j said:

I have a couple pictures of the knob. I am able to remove the top plate, to view down into my machine, but it is hard to get a good look at where the knob would be inserted.

The flat side on the metal clip looks a bit bent out. Perhaps you can use narrow pliers to bend it inwards to make for a better grip?

However, even if this helps it won't fix the problem if something is wrong with the steam valve. Was it stiff or squeaky to turn before the knob came off? If it didn't turn smoothly, which could be the reason why you had to apply too much force, this could happen because of scale. If you have this problem, descaling the machine with something like Puly Descaler will help to make the valve open smoothly again.

The steam valve becoming a little stiff is a good way to know your Silvia needs descaling, and this will help the other parts of it as well.  

Edited by Doram
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In the second photo the  steel clip looks distorted. Ideally the flat part of the steel that is bowed out needs bending back in.

Using pliers carefully to free up the steam valve spindle would be a good idea. Hopefully the knob will then turn the spindle again.

Nothing here...

 

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I will probably end up ordering a new clip and knob after all. In the mean time when it's day time tomorrow I will try opening up the machine and see if I can unstick the spindle.

 

I will also look into descaling, hopefully I can find a good video. I have some cleanser tablets, hopefully they will work in a pinch. I will definitely look into a better product to use more often. I hope I can get a few more years out of my girl before I need to retire her.

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10 hours ago, Kathryn j said:

I will also look into descaling, hopefully I can find a good video. I have some cleanser tablets, hopefully they will work in a pinch. I will definitely look into a better product to use more often. I hope I can get a few more years out of my girl before I need to retire her.

I don't know what cleanser tablets are, but if they are not proper descaler - I wouldn't waste my time. Your 7 year Silvia is a toddler (I sold mine when it was 22 years old, still in perfect working order) - look after her, use the proper product.

You don't need a video to descale, just do this:

1.  Dissolve the descaler in water according to the instructions or just use a little less water than it says to get a stronger solution (if Puly, I think it's 1 bag to a litre, so a bit less than half the water tank).
2. Turn the machine on and let it heat a little (no need for it to be super hot). Put a container under the group and another under the steam wand.
3. Turn the pump on and open the steam tap to push water to your containers and get the descaling solution in (get maybe ~200-300 ml out), then turn off the steam tap and the main power.
4. Let the solution sit for a while (15-30 mins), then turn on the main power and open the tap again and run another ~100-200 ml of water out. Turn off and let that sit again for a while, then repeat until you get all the descaling solution through the machine - I like to have the solution in there for about an hour (the water will come out greenish-blueish - this is good - it's the disolved scale).
5. Clean the water tank, fill with fresh water and run through the machine as you did before, to get rid of the descaler. Repeat until water is clean and doesn't taste sour from the citric acid (2 water tanks is plenty). Done.    

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With a little help from a more hands on relative I tried again. We used three different pairs of pliers to try and un stick the spindle. However it will not budge. The first words from her mouth were that she thought it might have seized up.

 

I dug through my cupboard and found the cleaner tablets which do not say descaling, and two bottles of liquid that do say descaling. 

I can go ahead put it back together and run it with the descaler to see if that helps un seize, but that is the only thing I can think of.

I believe the directions are to use the one bottle (4 oz) in a full reservoir. 

When I last tried using it alot of liquid came from the wand. So I imagine getting it heated up and running an amount of liquid through the wand on water setting would be the way to go.

Unless there are any other suggestions I'll give this a go and see if this is of any help.

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If you cannot move the spindle with pliers I think you need a new steam valve. I do not think d-scaler will be sufficient to release and rectify the problem.

You MAY be able to remove and dismantle the valve and overhaul it but your simplest remedy is replace it.

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8 hours ago, El carajillo said:

If you cannot move the spindle with pliers I think you need a new steam valve. I do not think d-scaler will be sufficient to release and rectify the problem.

You MAY be able to remove and dismantle the valve and overhaul it but your simplest remedy is replace it.

Went ahead and descaled it. Blue-green water came out just like you said.

Tried pliers again just in case, but it still won't budge. Sadly at this point I'm out of options. I am unable to remove, let alone replace the valve, and I have had no luck finding anyone at all in province who will even look at my machine. At this point I have to shop for a new baby. My best guess is I didn't keep up with maintenance like descaling well enough over the years.

 

Thank you for all the advice.

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Have you watched this? 

It shows how to remove/rebuild the steam valve. Even if the current one is damaged I would have expected you could replace it. Parts are available https://www.theespressoshop.co.uk/en/Rancilio-Silvia-Steam-Valve-Complete-OEM---10060119/m-5037.aspx

Silvia is pretty robust and should be repairable.

Good luck

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13 hours ago, Kathryn j said:

Went ahead and descaled it. Blue-green water came out just like you said.

Tried pliers again just in case, but it still won't budge. Sadly at this point I'm out of options. I am unable to remove, let alone replace the valve, and I have had no luck finding anyone at all in province who will even look at my machine. At this point I have to shop for a new baby. My best guess is I didn't keep up with maintenance like descaling well enough over the years.

 

Thank you for all the advice.

I presume from the term province you are not in  UK

Edited by El carajillo
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I am not, Canadian here.

I'm going to pack up my machine and hopefully at some point down the road I Can fix/replace the valve.  It's my long term goal so to speak.

I've noticed minor rusting on the inside, and the piece around the filter head has started to bubble. I have a new machine en route, I was lucky enough to find a real steal on one online. I should have it soon if the tracking information is accurate. I went ahead and got additional descaler, and wanted to check in on what/how often I need to do maintenance. The descaler I've heard anywhere from monthly to every 6 months- and for the record, we do not have hard water. 

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