Gaggia Classic: the light's on but there's no-one home

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Gaggia Classic: the light's on but there's no-one home

Postby Jonny782 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:04 pm

My Gaggia Classic has stopped heating up altho' the light is on. Funnily enough the steamer stopped working for a day then started again, and a day or two later, water stone cold. I must admit to having not been looking after it well. we're in a very hard water area - we use Britta filtered water, with the occasional de-scale, but i haven't taken apart the group-head to clean it for at least a year. my excuse is its at my workplace and i've always got other things to do.
i suspect i may have to send it off to Gaggia as I'm not especially handy, but thought i'd seek some expert advice as to dianostics first. :)
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RE: Gaggia Classic: the light

Postby CakeBoy » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:38 am

Probably scale unfortunately. They are pretty easy to strip down. If you feel comfortable removing the cover (mains power disconnected) have a look inside. It's a fairy obvious layout once you see it open. There are a few Classic owners around, hopefully one will be able to give you more specific advice.
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Postby GreenBean » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:01 pm

I have no specific knowledge of the Gaggia Classic but would suggest you need either an espresso repair company or an electrician to diagnose the problem. If you know an electrician then you could get them to check the heater circuit. The first things to check would be:

1. Over temperature trip or thermal fuse on top of boiler near heater element. If it has a trip then you can probably reset it by pressing it in. If it has a thermal fuse you would need to replace it if it has blown.
2. Heating elements.
3. Any solenoid/relay in the heater circuit.

It would be a very good idea to thoroughly descale the machine even if any of the above are the problem. Scale build up could lead to overheating causing the above problems.
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Postby Jonny782 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:54 am

thank you, that's helpful.
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Postby DrTom » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:00 pm

Hello Jonny,

The non-heating could be one of a few things(..!), I don't know how confident you are taking the Classic apart but here's what I'm thinking,

As GreenBean said, the thermal fuse could have seen triggered (this is on top of the boiler, usually in the middle under a metal clip, housed inside a ~3 cm long plastic tube). I don't know the test for this but I'm sure a continuity test would suffice. If this is the issue you will need to buy another and fit it. I don't think the Classic has had a re-setable thermal fuse before but if it does, it will look like a little button set in something roughly the size of a 5 p and will most likely be made from plastic and will be situated somewhere on the top of the boiler. If you do have one, press the button in. If this was the issue you will hear and feel it click. If you press it again you will not feel anything. If this was the issue, phew! It's probably sorted.

OR

The heating element could have broken, unfortunately the elements are integral to the boiler and will require a new boiler if this is the case (as far as I know). The up side to this is that the new boilers are very shiny :) Again, a continuity test of the heating elements will probably to the trick. If you look at the boiler you will see that there are 4 pins on the top connected to wires, they are the connections to the 2 heater elements, they are long 'U' shapes on either side of the boiler, made from metal and you will see which 2 pins to test. As I understand it, you should be able to test if you have lost a heater element by flicking the machine in to steam mode. This changes the 2 elements from series to parallel. One should get hot, one (the one breaking the circuit) will not heat up.

OR

The lower temperature thermostat has broken. I'm not sure what happens to these when they break but I'm hoping that they don't allow the machine to heat up! I think if you flick it over to steam mode it should use the other thermostat (to make steam) as feedback and bypass this possible broken thermostat.

If you need any of these describing in any more detail just ask - I can do it to my machine (it's a Coffee but these steps will be the same) first and show you with photos if needed.

I hope you get it sorted!
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Postby Jonny782 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:55 am

Thank you for this.
I have had a look and taken a picture. one of the four pins which you explained are connected to the two heating elements on top of the boiler got too hot and came off. It left a burnt mark on another bit of wire. I'll try to add a picture.
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Postby DrTom » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:13 pm

Hello Jonny,

Ah that doesn't sound great. It explains why it's not heating though! The burn mark on the other wire shouldn't matter too much. If it has exposed the metal wire you can use some insulating tape to re-cover it until you replace the wire.

However, the real issue is the pin on the heater element. If it has snapped clean off at the base where it meets the white ceramic ring then I'm afraid you are a bit stuck and may be looking at a new boiler. If there is any of this pin left in the element you may be able to get the snapped pin out of the connector at the end of the wire and re-connect it.
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Postby Jonny782 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:36 am

There is a bit of wire I could try to reconnect, but if I manage to reconnect it, will it burn through again if I haven't dealt with the reason it got so hot?
Somewhat bemused about how I might look inside the boiler to see what's going on in there.
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Postby bruceb » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:36 am

How was the wire originally attached to the pin of the heater? If you do try to reconnect it don't forget that the heater draws quite a bit of current so you need a very good, low-resistance connection or it will very quickly burn through again.
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Postby Jonny782 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:41 pm

there's a little plastic clip that's got damaged, which I may need to glue or replace (failing as usual to manage to add photo to this post). Not sure how else to connect.
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Postby DrTom » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:26 pm

Hello Jonny,

Sorry - I mis-understood you, I thought the wire that had popped off the heater had caught/damaged another wire on its way off! I would certainly not connect it again if the wire connected to the heater element has melted. Again, apologies!
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Postby Jonny782 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:57 pm

Don't worry, I haven't tried anything yet. I could just put the connection back, but I guess it would get very hot again. Could this be due to a poor connection and I just need to find some way of having a low resistence connection, and descale the machine in case that is causing the over heating? Or what else might it be?
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Postby Jonny782 » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:02 pm

postscript - I did get it fixed by a shop in the end. it was just the connection was poor which caused the overheating, so I could have just done a better connection myself. however there were other problems that they sorted out. So sorted now. thanks for help.
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