I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. It gets used in the mornings and evenings. My first cup of coffee in the morning is an Americano, courtesy of Miss Silvia.
An Americano starts with an empty coffee cup. You pull a double espresso into the cup and then add 5-6 ounces of hot water. The steam wand on the Silvia is a great source for hot water for this purpose.
For that matter, it's a great source for hot water when you're cooking -- instead of adding 130° "hot" water from the faucet to something you're cooking, and thereby cooling it significantly, get some hot water from Silvia and you've got a 70-100° boost in your water temperature (depending on your thermostat/PID settings).
Of course, if you turn your espresso machine off each night, even if it is a Rancilio Silvia, you will have to let it heat up. One of the great features of the Silvia is its large marine-brass boiler, heavy chrome-plated marine-brass portafilter and heavy marine-brass group head (the part of the espresso machine into which you connect the portafilter).
But, then, there's the Silvia won't heat problem...
The Silvia does have one annoying problem. Well, it's really brain-freeze on the part of the operator, and Miss Silvia corrects us properly.
If you leave the steam switch in the On position for too long, anywhere from 30 minutes on up, Miss Silvia will start to overheat. She has a protective thermostat to prevent a catastrophic boiler blowout. Fortunately, the thermostat also has a reset button.
The first hint of trouble comes when you notice that Silvia is cold. Yep, the overheat thermostat probably tripped.
So, let's see how to get back in operation again:
First, make sure you actually have water in the boiler -- run the pump long enough to get water out the steam wand. Then, try to heat. If that doesn't work, check the overheat thermostat.
The usual problem when you leave the steam switch on is the system overheat thermostat. This one has a red reset switch on it.
Hopefully I've hit all the steps here, but use this procedure at your own risk. If you aren't comfortable dealing with the internals, take it to a shop. _Think_ while you're working on the Silvia.
Hopefully resetting the system overheat theremostat is all that was needed. I've had to do that a few times. My Silvia lives "on". A very few times, I've forgotten to turn off the steam switch and tripped the overheat thermostat.
After resetting the overheat thermostat, if Silvia heats on normal, but not on steam, (or vice versa) that can tell you if one thermostat is damaged but not the other. A couple years ago, before I PID'ed Silvia, I had a steam thermostat go out. My dealer got one quickly to me via USPS in a small padded envelope.
You can also use a digital multimeter to check the steam and brew thermostat. Again, unplug Silvia. Unplug the push-on connectors on both sides of a thermostat. Turn on your digital multimeter and set it to Ohms/Resistance.
Hold one probe on one of the thermostat's connectors and the other to the other connector. If the thermostat is good, the resistance will be zero/approximately-zero. If it isn't, replace the thermostat. Check the other thermostats.
The worst case is if you boiled out the water through the steam wand. if your boiler went dry, you could have fried your heating elements, which are inside the boiler. This would be a shop repair.
Copyright © 2002-2008 Terry A. Stockdale. All rights reserved.