Monday, July 15, 2013

Final Cappucino Maker Fix (Hopefully)

Project:
Fix that bloody cappuccino maker for the 500th time!

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):
Hard

Process:
Other blog post/fixes for the same model cappuccino machine:
I've had my DeLonghi EAM 4500 cappuccino maker for almost 6 years now and put between 10,000 and 20,000 cups of coffee on it so it has served us well. But, it also cost an arm and a leg ($900 used on ebay) back in 2008. So needless to say, I didn't really want to give it up that quickly and buy another one since that would have probably been outside our budget. The only option then, was to try to fix it.

The issues I've had so far with this machine over the last 6 years were as follow:

1. Leak in the top boiler (Leak Fix)
2. Broken thermal cut-off switch (no blog)
3. Broken water hose connector (Connector Fix)
4. Generic alarm
5. Water pump

#1 was a pain in the butt, but it was simply a mechanical issue so after I figured out how to make a proper gasket it was all sunshine, rainbows and cappuccinos

#2 was a simple order and replace fix that cost me about $30 bucks a few years back

#3 was definitely the easiest one

#4 was a royal PIT@!!! This, and #5, is what this blog is about

Shortly after I fixed #3 above, the machine started acting up and giving the intermittent "Generic Alarm" which was quite dreaded on the DeLonghi forums. The solutions ranged anywhere from broken motors, broken pumps, broken sensors, broken boiler units all the way to a broken triac on the main electronic power board.

When I plugged in the machine it said "Heating up please wait..." for quite a long time and then it switched to "Generic Alarm".

Somehow I deduced that it had to do with the heating of the boiler units of which there are two: one on top which does the main hot water for brewing the coffee and a second one in the back which comes after the first one and is used to create steam for the cappuccino attachment.

There could be three possible problems:

#1 one of the two temperature sensors (one on each boiler)
#2 one of the two heating elements
#3 the main power board (I have a used main power board I'd sell for $100 CAD; they're $200 new)

I found a great Parts Replacement Resource Website so I figured that the chances are fairly small for both temperature sensors to go at the same time so I ordered one replacement sensor which came to about $30 bucks with shipping.

Two weeks later I got the part, replaced it, turned it on and IT WORKED!!! Except for, it only worked for about two days! So that was no good.

Then I measured the heating elements and they registered at 14.2Ω and 14.8Ω respectively. Using Ohm's laws, and knowing that the heating element were both rated at 1000W, the voltage was measured at 123V, the amps I was drawing through the heating process should be:


I=P/V
I=1000W/123V
I= 8.13A

I measured the amperage and it was 8.2A so that was good. Then I calculated the resistance which should be:

R=V/I
R=123V/8.2A
R=15Ω

So that was pretty good too, so I knew that the heating elements were working fine.

The only logical conclusion (and this was the painfully expensive realization) was that the main power board was fried. I took it off, had a real good look at it but it didn't look burnt or anything so I put it all back together and IT WORKED!!! Except for, it only worked for about a day or so!

So, I had to bite the bullet and ordered the $200 replacement power board. Crazy to think that I'd pay more for a replacement part of a cappuccino maker than most people pay for their entire coffee machine, but the only other alternative was either a $10 cheapo walmart coffee maker that makes nothing but slop, a $100 kuerig for which the k-cups are ridiculously expensive (and I refuse to pay 80 cents for a cup of coffee at home) or another real machine for another $1000-$1500. Needless to say, my tenacity (or stubbornness as Melanie calls it) took over and I ordered the replacement board (of course with Melanie's agreement, she missed a decent cup of coffee, too!!!).

About two weeks later I got it, put it in and whoohoo, IT WORKED!!! Except for, it only worked for two days. I was NOT a very happy man, that's for sure. Melanie was getting annoyed by this time so I didn't get any sympathy from her either and I still didn't have a fix.

I think what was bothering me more than anything is that IT DIDN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't. I tested and/or replaced every possible scenario and it was so inconsistently not working that I was at my wit's end. I just could not for the life of me figure out what could possibly cause these malfunctions! Frustrating!!!

The last glimmer of hope I got when I remembered something I read about the water pump possibly causing the "Generic Alarm" but since (for the most part) the water came out fine I dismissed that possible cause until the power board replacement didn't fix it.

So, last week I ordered a new water pump (another $50, but the pump was on its way out anyways) and said to myself that if that didn't fix the machine I would take a sledge hammer to it and cut my losses and go back to drinking slop.

Last night I plugged it in again just because I couldn't let it go and luckily it worked for a couple of cups but then stopped working again. Out came the volt meter (AGAIN!) and I just happened to notice that there was a little spark inside of the thermal cut-off switch (TCO) on the back boiler. Interestingly I had tested that switch many times before and it always showed continuity (which it's supposed to have), but I never tested the continuity throughout the entire warm-up cycle. As a desperate last measure (before getting the new water pump) I by-passed the thermal switch in the back and wouldn't you know it: it never gave me the "Generic Alarm" again.

Today UPS delivered the replacement pump, I put it in, found another thermal fuse that I had lying around, rigged it up and put it all back together. This may actually have been the problem all along: The thermal cut-off switch would allow power through it until the back boiler heated up just almost exactly to the temperature it would have to be for the computer to register the OK, but then the TCO would open, the power would get interrupted and the heating element would cool down again until it was cold enough for the switch to close again. And so it would go, a continuous cycle of heating, opening the TCO, cooling, closing the TCO and heating it up again until the computer said something's wrong and threw the "Generic Alarm". I guess I'll find out in the next few days, but the sledge hammer definitely IS still a possibility!!!

In summary, I paid:

$900 for the cappuccino maker in 2008
$30 for the thermal cut-off switch (TCO) in 2009
$5 for the gasket material for the top boiler in 2012
$30 for a replacement temperature sensor in 2013
$200 for a replacement power board in 2013
$50 for a replacement pump in 2013

Total: $1215

Which works out to be only about 8 cents/cup over the years plus the actual coffee grinds. This is still a saving of $21,285.00 over going to Tim's (I guess I have to justify it somehow)!!!

Videos:

Pictures:
Power board close up of the two triacs and the heat sink
Power board that didn't end up having to be replaced after all. Anybody want a $200 power board?
Inside of the water pump
The housing of the water pump
The worn-out components of the old water pump
Another view of the water pump housing
The TCO that ended up being the cause of all my troubles
Tools:
Screwdriver
Pliers

Materials:
Salvaged thermal cut-off switch
Main control/power board
Water pump

Cost:
$250

Time:
30 - 40 hrs...WAY too much for my liking

Savings:
$21,285.00

Conclusion:
Lord have mercy on me! Let this be the last time I have to fix this oh so hated and at the same time so wonderfully loved machine!!!

Additional Note:
I've had some requests to write down the steps on how to get into diagnostics mode. There are actually two different modes. Here are the details:

1. To get into Regular Test Mode: press "one shot" plus "long shot" while plugging in the machine
2. To get into Display Module Test Mode: press "two shot" plus "long shot" while plugging in the machine
3. To get into the Coffee Count Screen, hold the "menu" and "change" button while plugging in the machine

in display module test mode, each button will display "button 1", "button 2" etc to test the buttons

in regular test mode, the buttons are as follows:

Button 1 (Menu):  Heater on
Button 2 (Next): N/A
Button 3 (Change): Pump on
Button 4 (OK): Grinder
Button 5 (On/Off): Motor up
Button 6 (Bean grind): Motor down
Button 7 (1 shot): EV1 on
Button 8 (2 shot): EV2 on
Button 9 (long shot): vaporizer

123 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have had this same machine since 2008. Has worked great until recently it seems the steam pressure has dropped. I opened the case and the top boiler is all corroded. I assume there is a leak somewhere. The part is about $100. Since you have already taken this apart, how hard was it? It doesn't look that difficult, just a few screws, hose clamps and wire connectors. Was there more to it than that?

Also, how did you get in diagnostic mode? I am dying to see how many cups of coffee we have brewed. Will help me justify a replacement if this one dies.

Enjoyed reading about your Rialto repairs. Inspired me to take a shot at fixing it.

- Chris

Chris Eigenheer said...

To the person that left the above comment. please email me at eigenheerc..at..hot mail..com. i'll be more than glad to help.

John Zurbuchen said...

Chris,

I have a question since you seem quite informed about the Delonghi 4500. I have a leak, opened up the machine, and found the leak. Then, found a parts manual and, I believe, the part….

I’ve included a picture of the part replacement and a picture of where the leak is occurring (red arrow). It only occurs when I engage the spout, not the coffee…. I’ve had a few “grinds too fine” which necessitated running the spout. Also, need the spout to descale the unit.

So, do you think I have the right part? How would I access this piece. Seems I take the heating element off, or disconnect so that I can get to the part. Is the leak a seal? Or the entire part. I can’t seem to find a seal in the diagram.

Any help you could supply would be great before I purchase and take apart….

Thanks

Chris Eigenheer said...

@john zurbuchen, I have updated the blog to hopefully answer your question.

Richard said...

Thanks for posting this info! Our ESAM5500 was getting the dreaded "general alarm", sometimes when trying to brew, and sometimes when just sitting idle. From other web sites, I figured out that the o-rings in the brew unit had swelled and were making the plunger stick. (If it's difficult to move by hand, the o-rings are bad.) I ordered a new set (which came with food-grade grease) on eBay. They arrived from Germany in just over a week. That solved the brewing problem, but the "general alarm" would still appear after the machine was left on for a time. From reading this site, I suspected the thermal cutoff switch. Following your example, I jumpered around it, and the machine is working fine now. I ordered the TCO on eBay, and will remove the jumper and install it as soon as it arrives.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Richard, I'm glad you got it working. This machine brews some nice java! I've had mine for almost 9 years and it's still putting out wonderful coffee!

Richard said...

Yes, we love ours. We've had it since 2009. We hadn't seen them until we checked into a little no-frills hotel in Cologne, Germany, and the nice Iranian-born owner said "If you'd like a cup of coffee, just push this button." We decided we had to have one of these machines. It worked perfectly for about 5 years, but has had the main generator replaced twice. I wasn't able to diagnose the problem myself; we sent it out of state (which was not cheap -- but far less than replacing the machine). We'd pretty much decided that we weren't going to put a lot more money into it, so it's great that I'm able to fix some things myself. It's hard to go back to drip coffee when this thing isn't working, so we're hoping these will be the last repairs for awhile.

Michael Gruener said...

Hi Chris,
Outstanding Blog work and great information on this DeLonghi EAM 4500 repair topic. I have also had mine since about 2007 without issue. Recently I am getting the dreaded Generic Alarm during start up. I opened up the machine and noted the boiler on top is getting hot but the horseshoe shaped boiler to the rear is remaining cold (and I assume it should get hot during the start up cycle as well. So I suppose the rear boiler has gone bad, or the TCO has failed or perhaps you have some other insight. I have a multi-meter to poke around the components with, but just need a little of you terrific guidance and expertise if you don't mind. Thanks so much.

Richard said...

Michael, I'm sure Chris will have some ideas. But I'll throw in my two cents worth. As you've figured out, these machines have two boilers -- the top one for brewing coffee, and the rear horseshoe-shaped one for steaming milk. Since your machine is failing during startup, it's possible that the steam boiler TCO has completely failed. It should show zero resistance with the machine off and cold. If it shows infinite resistance, it's stuck open and the steam boiler can't heat up at all. If that's the case, you can do what I did -- jumper around it temporarily and order the part. If it doesn't heat up even with the TCO bypassed, the boiler itself is probably defective. Since it's in the rear of the machine, it should be pretty easy to replace and should run you about $50 on eBay. Search for part # 7332212600.

Michael Gruener said...

Richard, that was it. Checked the TCO for resistance, and it seemed stuck open. I jumper-ed it, turned on power, and voila... the rear steam boiler heated up and the machine cycled on with no error. Ran some coffee cycles and it appears to be nominal. Ordering the TCO part and we'll see how the unit holds together going forward. Thank you so much for your reply!!

Chris Eigenheer said...

Michael & Richard, I'm glad you guys figured it out. That's what I would have guessed the problem was as it was the same thing for my machine. Sorry I haven't responded sooner; I was working on another project outside (blog coming soon)

Richard said...

Micheal, that's great! Our machine worked for a day or two with the TCO jumpered, but got the "ground too fine" error repeatedly this morning. At first I suspected the the transmission, since the brew unit was parked in the fully-up position. But I noticed that the rinse cycle wasn't happening when the machine was turned off and back on, so I suspected that the pump was going bad. I took the pump and valve assembly out, disassembled them, and reassembled them, reinstalled everything, and the machine seems to be working now. I didn't see any obvious problem, except a little scale on one of the o-rings, which I cleaned off. Since this is the original pump, I went ahead and ordered a new one. I see that the replacement is now model EAX5, which has brass parts instead of plastic.

Chris Eigenheer said...

Richard, for some reason, one issue that has resulted in the "grounds too fine" before on my machine was when the o-rings needed to be lubricated with some food-grade silicone grease (two o-rings on the brew unit and one o-ring up inside the machine on the brew piston)

Richard said...

Chris, that's good to know. I had just replaced and lubricated the two o-rings on the brew unit. I know the old ones had swelled and were causing the piston to stick. The o-ring on the brew piston seemed OK, and was new with the replaced coffee boiler a year or so ago. But I have a third new o-ring that came with the set, so I'll go ahead and replace it.

chippie777 said...

I’ve the “ground too fine” error. I can bypass that by tapping hot water on the machine for just a couple of seconds. After that the message is gone and I can make coffee again. What is te fist step to take to solve this problem?

Richard said...

In my experience, the "ground too fine" error shows up when not enough hot water is getting to the brew unit. It could be a failing pump, or the little check valve on top of the pump could be partially clogged. Since dispensing hot water temporarily fixes the problem, I'd also suspect the solenoid valve that's mounted behind the steam boiler. I recently replaced both the pump and the solenoid valve on my ESAM5500, and it wasn't too difficult. I was able to order the parts on eBay. But first, I'd remove, disassemble, and clean the check valve on top of the pump, #62 in this diagram:

http://bit.ly/2brLATQ

Hope this helps!

chippie777 said...

Thx for your advice. I first ordered 3 new gaskets for the brew group. I found out that those 3 gaskets were very dirty. I was not able to clean them properly so I ordered them to replace. It’s simple. In the meanwhile I’ll check the mentioned check valve. I’ll let you know the results.

Richard said...

I think that's a good move. On our machine, the three o-rings swelled over time, and were causing the plunger to stick. If you can't move it easily with your finger, you definitely need new o-rings. They should come with a packet of food-grade silicone grease, which you need to apply to them when you install them. Keep us posted!

chippie777 said...

I replaced the 3 o-rings (gaskets) It is an easy job. I ordered them on eBay and found the following youtube movie where you can see how to replace the o-rings. So far so good. Fingers crossed if I’ll see the “ground to fine” message.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1ful0ZjbiU

Mark Galecki said...

If the espresso maker goes straight to "General Alarm" after plugging it in, is it safe to assume that it just needs to be cleaned or are there other possible problems? I just changed the o-rings on the infuser and lubricated it, but i didn't change o-ring on the piston. Any help is appreciated. This blog post has been one of the more informative ones on this machine

Chris Eigenheer said...

Mark, it's really hard to say without doing some more research. Does it do anything at all before it gives you the generic alarm? It could very well be the motherboard as well. I would check to make sure you have voltage for both heaters (check either side of the thermal cut-off switch). After that I'd go into the diagnostics mode and test each button as well as each part of the machine. The process to get into the diagnostics modes (there are two different diagnostic modes) are at the bottom of the blog. Also, at the top of the blog are two links to two other blogs I did on my machine; you might find something there that helps.

J.P. Weiksnar said...

This thread is great. I have the same model—and it "boots," rinses and makes coffee fine. THE STUMPER: it won't dispense hot water or descale. The same pump sound as in rinse mode is present, but very muted. Then I get the "Ground too fine" and "Insert hot water spout" prompts. Anyone willing to wager if it's a clogged line or a solenoid? Or something else? Thanks for any advice~!

Richard said...

If it doesn't detect that the water spout is inserted, it could be the microswitch or a broken or loose wire.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Richard, get into Display Module Test Mode (press "two shot" plus "long shot" while plugging in the machine) and find the EV2 button and listen for a little click. That's the solenoid that opens the line into the horse-shoe shaped "steamer" boiler element. I actually just had to deal with a similar issue where the EV2 solenoid was shot. For my machine it ended up being another thing as well: the steam boiler element was plugged with a small piece of calcium/scale build-up. I had to use a small needle and break it open, put it all back together and it's working fine now. The EV2 solenoid can be found here: https://www.encompassparts.com/item/10311108/Delonghi/5513225801/Solenoid_Valve hope this helps

J.P. Weiksnar said...

Thanks @Richard, yes the microswitch does detect. @Chris, I did try test mode but need to go back and make sure . . . but I'm inclined to think it's a buildup, since the previous time I descaled, it "let loose" with a blockage. And, recently after any brew cycle, I hear a little wheeze. That's the only audible abnormality after ~7,500 cycles on the unit. Again, thanks, and I'll post what I find about the EV2.

Chris Eigenheer said...

Hope it works out for you @J.P. Weiksnar; she makes a mean brew!

J.P. Weiksnar said...

Aw, I genuinely appreciate it, Chris. It turns out I hear the "EV2 on" click in test mode. But nada for EV1. Plus, "Pump on" is very muted (just as when I try to descale or request hot water). But since the main brewing works fine, I'm not sure it pays to tinker. "If it ain't broke." . . . I suppose I could try descaling with Durgol and see if it loosens up like last time, as a first step. :-)

Chris Eigenheer said...

@J.P. Weiksnar, EV1 I believe is the solenoid right up by the water spout that is activated or deactivated when making a cappuccino with the cappuccino jug attachment. Maybe that solenoid died in the closed position which would explain why you can't get any water and it's telling you to insert the water spout. One thing you can try is open the machine, find the little water hose that goes from the back to the front right top into the front solenoid and disconnect it from the solenoid input. Then you can push the water pump button and see if it sprays hot water out of the little vinyl hose. If it does, you know that the problem is the EV1 solenoid. Then, if that works, you can plug in the cappuccino maker jug (if you have one) and press on the round "Clean" button, that should make a bunch of steam come out of that same vinyl hose that you disconnected from the EV1 solenoid. IF both those scenarios are as I suspect you'll just have to either test the EV1 solenoid for proper voltage or possibly replace it. Hope this helps.

Richard said...

As long as we're discussing solenoids and steam... I'm still having a minor glitch with my ESAM5500. After replacing the o-rings on the milk jug connector, it's usable. When we first attach the milk jug in the morning, we press the clean button for ten seconds or so, and it releases steam as it should. But when we press the cappuccino button, it releases more steam without drawing milk, at least for a time -- about 10 - 20 seconds. Finally, it sputters to life and starts drawing milk, but even then it's not as frothy as it should be. I've replaced the EV2 solenoid, so it's not that. I've also replaced the milk jug top. Could the EV2 solenoid be defective or partially clogged?

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Richard, my suspicion is the milk jug. I can't say for sure because that's actually one part I have not yet taken apart, but it almost sounds like the slider adjustment on the milk jug (if yours is the same as mine - the one you can adjust from latte to cappuccino) might not be working properly. Is it possible that the second jug lid you tried is clogged up maybe? Just thinking out loud...

Richard said...

@Chris, thanks for the quick reply. I don't think it's the milk jug since 1) it's nearly brand new and 2) it does the exact same thing with the old one. Also, when I attach the hot water outlet and press the hot water button, I get mostly steam for ten seconds or so. I suppose I could have two defective or clogged milk jug tops, but it seems more likely that it's something inside the machine.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@richard, interesting, it almost seems like you're not getting enough water through the steamer. having said that, when I first heat up my machine the hot water button does produce mostly steam for the first little while. have you tried pressing the hot water button until you get hot water flowing and then try the cappuccino/frothing action?

Richard said...

Good thought. I'll try that in the morning. What's strange is that once it starts drawing milk, it will continue to do so for subsequent cappuccinos, even some time later, and even after the milk pitcher is detached and reattached. So it's like something is being set to dispense steam for the cleaning operation, and then sticking in that position for a time when making the first cappuccino.

J.P. Weiksnar said...

One more time, thank you @Chris. I will try to report back when I eventually get around to testing the innards--it's bound to be something in that part of the system!

Richard said...

Ok, this morning I fired up the machine, installed the milk pitcher, and pushed the clean button for ten seconds or so as usual. Then I removed the milk pitcher, installed the water spout, and dispensed hot water for tens seconds or so. Then I reinserted the milk pitcher, pushed the cappuccino button, and it drew milk almost immediately. Tried this sequence a couple of times with the same result. Not sure what this tells us, though....

Richard said...

Well, I finally found the problem with the frother! I noticed a little steam coming out of the side of the machine during attempted frothing. I removed the side panels and the front control panel, and found that the nut on top of the EV2 solenoid valve was very loose, and steam was escaping out the top of the solenoid. A copper sleeve around the plunger in the solenoid had completely broken. I could pull the solenoid apart with my fingers. Apparently, they have redesigned the EV2 solenoid valve, so I'll also need to order the connector pieces that attach to both sides, and the o-rings that they use. In the meantime, the thermal cutoff on the steam boiler -- the one I had just recently replace -- has failed again. So I'll order that as well. Hope this helps someone who might be having the same problems.

McIntosh Designs said...

I'm trying to replace a pump on my Rialto. Do you have an photos or videos of that repair?

Chris Eigenheer said...

@mcIntosh designs, no, unfortunately the only pics I have are the ones in this blog.

Robert Lew said...

Hi, I have the ESAM 3500 and just replaced the generator which was leaking. Afterwards I ran the descaling and now I get the Generic Alarm. The alarm comes up after the Warm Up cycle which is taking a long time. Sometimes I can unplug and replug the machine when its on the Generic Alarm and it will work fine. I'll check out if its the Thermal Cutoff Switch or the rear heating element. Do you know what the replacement part# for the TCO is or maybe a link to the eBay item? I tried googling it couldn't find it.
Rob

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Robert Lew, here's the part I got: http://www.ereplacementparts.com/tco-p-695163.html. Hope this helps.

Brian Coles said...

Hey Chris, I just replaced thre pump on my 3500 but it didnt resolve the problem, which is that a while back the milk frother stopped working, so we didnt use that any more, then I couldnt get any hot water out of the hot water spout, ok, didnt use that any more, now after 6 months, no water comes out of the 2 coffee spouts, bit stuck now, help!

Brian Coles said...

...oh and I get the ground too fine message on trying to get hot water or make coffee! :)

Richard said...

When I was getting the "ground too fine" error on my ESAM5500, it was because the o-rings on the brew unit plunger has swelled and were causing the plunger to stick. Try taking out the brew unit and pressing down on the round screen. If the plunger doesn't move fairly easily, that might be your problem.

Richard said...

As for the frother and hot water spout not working at all, I'd suspect a solenoid valve.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Brian, ground too fine usually means that the water that's supposed to flow through the brew unit is obstructed. There are a few points in the path of the water that could be the case.

1. Pump (you already fixed it)
2. Water filter (small plastic filter between pump and water reservoir)
3. Rear Solenoid
4. Horseshoe heater (back)
5. Main heater (top)
6. Front solenoid
7. Male brew unit (the one with the piston, that's attached to the top heater)
8. Female brew unit (the one that moves up and down with the coffee)

Unfortunately, it's hard to say which one it is. I would recommend you go into diagnostics mode and test the solenoids (listen for the click), then disconnect the water hose right after the pump and test the pump (water should spray out of the water hose), then connect the hose to the boiler, but disconnect the brew unit and make sure the water goes through the boiler, then reconnect the brew unit and make sure it goes through the brew unit...etc...you get my point. I hope this helps. Do some more testing and let me know what you found out...

Brian Coles said...

Thank you Chris, I cleaned up the plunger (it was stuck pretty hard, now much better) - next is to replace the rear solenoid! Your testing plan makes sense. Thanks for all the help and advice! I'll post back if I fix it!

Richard said...

To work properly, the plunger o-rings need some food-grade grease on them. If you buy new ones, they usually come with a little packet of grease.

Robert Lew said...

Hi Chris,
Maybe you can help. My initial problem was that the machine was leaking water. Now I’m getting the Generic Alarm after a prolong heating startup. Here’s what I’ve do so far:
1. Replaced the Generator Assembly (top heating unit). No more leak.
2. Ran Descaling program and it worked fine a couple of times. But next day it showed heating for a long time and then show “Generic Alarm”.
3. Checked all the water flow from tank to flowmeter to pump to generator to solenoid to rear heating element to front solenoid using the test menu to pump water through or blowing air.
4. Cleaned diffuser and replaced O Rings and then lubricated the plunger. No change.
5. Replaced the Thermal Cutoff Switch on rear heating element. Probably didn’t need to as both heating units were getting hot. Got “Ground too fine” message a couple of times. Ran Descaling program and it worked fine a couple of times but then back to “Generic Alarm”
6. Lubricated the threaded rod on the transmission as it was making a lot of noise. No more noise.
7. Replaced pump and flowmeter. No Change.
8. Checked all the water connections again. Starting working, ran descaling program and brewed about 5 double long shots. Next day back the “Generic Alarm”
Occasionally, I can unplug/replug the machine and it would work. What does “Vaporizer On” do in the test menu (I don’t hear anything happening)? I don’t think there is anything wrong with the solenoids as they click and the descaling program works. I didn’t change the water filter but I did remove it and run water through it. All I can think of is to replace the control board. Is there anything I missed?
Thanks,

Chris Eigenheer said...

Robert, I must admit, you have done a very thorough job at troubleshooting your machine. I'll try to answer your questions as good as I can without actually seeing your machine. I ran into a similar issue with the generic alarm and the thermal cut off switch tested good. however, as it heated up, the TCO cut out just before reaching the necessary temperature. sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't. I ended up buying a new main board but that didn't fix the issue. I would "unofficially" recommend bypassing the TCO in the back heater and see if it will still give you the generic alarm. I once replaced the TCO with the OEM part and that broke again so now I just use the cheap $0.25 one-way TCO "fuses" and I haven't had any issues since. Please let me make sure to note that bypassing the TCO could cause a fire hazard, so please ONLY do so for testing purposes.

The "ground too fine" message happens when there's a restriction in the water flow. it could be because the coffee ground is actually too fine, or it could be a faulty solenoid or a plugged pipe.

The vaporizer is actually the back heating unit. it is used to create steam for the cappuccino maker attachment.

One thing you might want to consider doing is taking out the solenoids and test them by blowing air through, then engaging the solenoid and making sure it works properly.

other than that, you may have to replace the main board but that's fairly expensive.

keep me updated; I'd love to hear what you ended up doing/finding out...

good luck

chris

Richard said...

Chris, can you provide a link to the $.25 TCO fuses you're using? The OEM part I've been ordering is also a one-time fuse -- but it's a lot more expensive. And I've gone through several of them.

Chris Eigenheer said...

Richard, if you do an ebay search for "10 x Electronic Circuit Cutoff 250V 240 Celsius Temperature Thermal Fuses" you'll find plenty. The only thing you're gonna need to make sure that the temperature rating is correct for your machine; you'll definitely want to make sure to match the temp rating!!! Here's a link to what I ordered: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/10-Pcs-Circuit-Cut-Off-TF-240-Celsius-250V-10A-Thermal-Fuses-T1-/252477917525

Robert Lew said...

Thanks for the fast replies. I did test the solenoids by blowing air in them. Good point, I did jump the new TCO and it did work correctly. But I thought to myself that it couldn't be that since it was brand new. I will try the thermal fuse. I just need to find it somewhere shipping from the US. Thanks again.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Robert, email me your address and I'll send you one (I think I have a few left). eigenheerc at hot mail dot com.

Robert Lew said...

I think I found it on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/SF240E-SEFUSE-Cutoffs-Thermal-Degree/dp/B015675DA8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1482336351&sr=8-2&keywords=Thermal+Fuses

Robert Lew said...

Tried jumping the TCO but no success. So I just ordered the PC Board. Nobody seems to have it in stock so it'll be a few weeks.

Richard said...

For my machine, ESAM5500, the stock thermal fuse, Delonghi part #5232105000 is rated at 318 degrees C. So the 240 degree fuses should work fine, I think, and wouldn't provide any less protection. Guess I'll order a package.

Richard said...

Chris, how did you attach these thermal fuses to the boiler?

Robert Lew said...

Chris,

Finally replaced the PC Board but no luck. It's still giving the "Generic Alarm". I think I'm done with trying to repair it, at least I got 8 years out of it. Thanks for your help and maintaining this blog. It was very helpful.

I won't be able to afford another Delonghi, so any recommendations on a replacement?

Rob

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Robert Lew, can you email me your phone number? My email address is in the second post from the top. I might have a proposition for you. Chris

Crusaders.Fan said...

Chris

I have magnifica where everything works except no steam. Just says warming up.
I checked the two thermostats on the back and found the 318 degree one open circuit. I have an older machine and took the same fuse from that one but it seemed to fail very quickly. Before temperature seemed to be reached.
If i bridge out the thermofuse it seems to work ok...i dont want to leave bridged out for obvious reasons.
Resistance on the newer horseshoe heater is 57ohms while the older machine is 54ohms.
Any idea why thermofuse failed?

Crusaders.Fan said...

Sorry newer machine is primadonna. Older machine is magnifica.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@crusaders.fan, I found that the fuse on the steam boiler is one that trips and then resets automatically. After the second one failed, I just put in a one-use fuse (once it trips, it's dead) and haven't had any issues with it since. Here's a link to what I ordered; just please make sure it is the right part for your machine: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/10-Pcs-Circuit-Cut-Off-TF-240-Celsius-250V-10A-Thermal-Fuses-T1-/252477917525

Richard said...

I found that on my machine, the thermal fuse would fail when the horseshoe-shaped steam boiler wasn't getting enough water. That could happen if the pump is failing, or if a line is clogged.

Fredrik A said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for keeping this blog running. I have an ESAM5500 which has been good to us for 2 years but now is showing the dreadful GENERAL ALARM. My alarm comes on immediately when I switch on the machine (...welll after some display note on English ). I have taken machine apart and have:
- Cleaned all parts, disassembled the infuser and greased it so it runs welll!
- Run LOAD TEST and all functions are kicking in as they should apart from the steam boiler which doesn't get warm...But is it really supposed to become warm when you run the HEATING under the load test? The reason I ask is if both the water boiler and the steam boiler would switch on in parallell under this test, they would exceed the effect marking for the machine (1350W).
- The steam boiler shows about 16ohms resistance which I think is a sign of life.
- The TCO should be OK, I have also replaced the TCO with no luck....
- Nothing on the power board seems burnt or anything.

I am tempted to connect the steam boiler directly to 120V to see if it heats but I am a bit concerned that I may blow it ??
Any clue what my problem could be? Any problem to test the boiler by connecting it to 120V directly?

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Fredrik A, did you try going into the test mode (instructions are at the end of the blog) and test all the components? If you turn on the boiler it definitely should get warm. Did you try to by-pass the TCO? Plugging the heater directly into 120V shouldn't be a problem as that's what its rated Voltage is.

Fredrik A said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your reply. I have taken all the test and all are working as it should except for the steam boiler. I have tried to short-cut the TCO without success. Should be noted that when I test the heating there is not voltage on the steam-boiler...and thus it doesn't get warm. So of course this could indicate a problem with the power board. But again to my question about test-mode Heating indeed should heat both boilers at the same time? Wouldn't the power rating of the machine be exceeded in case both boilers are on at the same time?
I will connect 120V directly to the steamer to see that it gets warm.

Assuming it will get heated do you think the conclusion is a busted power board?

Thanks!
Fredrik

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik A, if the steam boiler heats up with direct connection, the next thing I would do is trace the wires from the steam boiler to the main board and hook up a voltage tester on the electrical clips there. My suspicion (after telling me the info above) is that you might have a broken wire or a short in one of those wire clips. Let me know what you find out. I'm always happy to learn...

Fredrik A said...

Hi Chris,
Interesting detective job this. The boiler works and gets hot when I connected it to 120V. I have now removed the power-board and I believe I have the varistor protecting the boiler power outlet blown. It has much lower ohms than the other similar varistors (indicating that it is bad) and I can also see that some of the solder is mis-coloured and very much thinner at one of the varistor's connections. I will replace this component to see if it solves it (it will be a cheap solution compared to buying a new board...). I can almost smell the expresso!
Will update when I have tried this.

David Taylor said...

Thank you for keeping this blog running.
I have a esam3500s, and various issues, some sorted from reading this forum. My machine is 2008.
Latest issue: just changed the pump, as water delivery was causing an error of coffee grinds too fine. Replaced pump, now good water delivery. Now, during warm ip, the rinsing now takes nearly 2 minutes to complete. I did change the water metering part, but no change. However, when turning off, the water delivery appears normal. Thanks again for this valuable resource, David

Chris Eigenheer said...

@david taylor, it almost sounds like there is some obstruction in the water line between the pump and the spout. a "grind too fine" error usually means that there's not enough water going through the water meter. I would disassemble the water lines all the way from the pump, through the solenoid and to the water spout as well as the boiler lines, blow through them with air to make sure it's not plugged. One of the machines I fixed (http://chris-eigenheer.blogspot.ca/2017/01/fixing-delonhi-magnifica-eam4500.html) it ended up being a little piece of calcium that had clogged up the steam boiler intake. All I had to do is use a little dental pick and scrape it out and it was back to normal. Also, if you feel adventurous, you could open up the main boiler to make sure there's no obstruction in there...anyways, let me know what you find.

David Taylor said...

Thanks Chris. I did not mention that I cleaned out the generator, somewhat dirty.
I will have a look at your suggestion, and post a reply, thanks again, David

Fredrik A said...

Hi,
I am back with an update. I have replaced the varistor suspected to be the cause of my General Alarm.....it didn't solve my problem.

So, I have no power to the steam boiler coming from the power board when I run the Heating test.....the power board looks OK and I cannot imagine it would be bust since it powers the rest of the equipment (e.g. if the triac would be bad it would affect the power to e.g. the water boiler).

So could it be the temperature sensor which is not working? I tried by swapping the sensor for the water boiler and with the one for the steam boiler (just moving the connectors at the power board and not swapping at the boilers)....same result....water boiler working, steam not.....

Cables to steam boiler are OK, and again no power at the power-board outlet....

I am running out of ideas...any further hints?
Thanks - Fredrik

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik, I don't want to be the one to suggest bad news, but the "no power at the power board" does have me worried a bit. I had a generic error that showed up after a few minutes and it ended up being the TCO, but on a second machine, the "Generic Alarm" came on right away and for that machine it did end up being a faulty main board. Again, I don't want to suggest that it is the main board because they're expensive to buy "just to try it", but you may have no other options left. I can't really think of any reason why it would not have power right at the power board...

Thrift Chic said...

glad to see all the posts. I thought I put this on here, but could not find my post. I was thinking my machine was toast. I was having trouble getting decent foam for about a month. I kept thinking something was clogged in the milk pitcher. Well, about 2 weeks ago I got the dreaded generic alarm. I am disabled and not super mechanically inclined. Any suggestions for me?

Laura.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Laura (Thrift Chic), it's pretty challenging to suggest things to try as you said you're not super mechanically inclined. The first thing I'd look at is whether the steam boiler in the back is clogged. Then follow all the pipes all the way up to the front solenoid. You can check individual components by going into the regular test mode (instructions on how to do that are towards the end of the blog post). Let me know how you make out...

Richard said...

Just thought I'd post an update. I've finally and definitively fixed the frothing problem with my ESAM5500. Before the fix, it would spew steam, sputter and spew out mostly steam and a little milk, then eventually draw milk -- but not make it very frothy. I had replaced the carafe top and checked the machine for any internal blockage, but to no avail. A few days ago, I replaced the carafe coupling (Delonghi part #5513214821), and that completely fixed the problem.

http://www.ereplacementparts.com/coupling-carafe-p-1071541.html?osCsid=quanjqnjtea912vmvhstbie6n6

Replacing it required removing the back cover, then both side covers, and the control panel. Also the cover that goes over the bottom of the coupling. (Once you remove the two screws holding it in place, you slide it down a bit, then snap it out from the left.) The carafe coupling mounts to the machine with two screws, one of which also holds the two microswitches that detect the presence of the carafe top or water spout. You need to get these realigned properly when the new coupler goes in. In order to get enough slack in the tubing to attach it to the coupling, I removed the other end from the solenoid valve, then reattached that end after the new coupling was in place.

Sorry if I'm making this sound harder than it really is. It's not particularly difficult.

Hope this helps someone!

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Richard, I'm really glad you got it fixed. Thank you for posting the update; I'm sure that will help someone looking for a solution to the same problem!

Richard said...

Thanks, Chris. The coupling is a Venturi tube, and it's the differential pressure that creates the suction to draw the milk.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venturi_effect

I'm guessing that the precise geometry of it, and the size of the internal opening are critical to its working properly. If it's partially clogged or somehow worn, it's not going to work.

Unknown said...

Mine just stopped pumping water, any idea how to confirm if it's the pump that's bad? I am not getting any errors

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Unknown, go into Regular Test Mode by pressing "one shot" plus "long shot" while plugging in the machine. Then press button #3 to activate the pump. You'll probably have to take the cover off and disconnect the water hose that comes out of the pump and see if water goes through the pump. Then re-connect the water hose until the next connection and test it there. Go like that all the way to where it should come out and you'll know which component is not working. Hope that helps. Chris

Chad Yates said...

So I took the back and sides off the unit. I can't seem to get it to go into test mode, holding the two buttons you mentioned above. So I tried using the hot water button and it magically started working but not a consistent stream of water. It was start and stop and even start steaming. So I then tried making a coffee and it worked again 1 time, 2nd cup was back to no water but you can hear the pump going.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Chad Yates, you have to press the two buttons AS YOU PLUG IN THE MACHINE. That's how you get in the test modes. It almost sounds to me that part of your machine is clogged up. have you tried to descale it lately? I usually just use vinegar and water although delonghi recommends their $100 (I'm exagerating) "special" descaler solution...

Richard said...

Well, I guess I spoke too soon about the frothing being definitively fixed. It worked perfectly for two days. Then I needed to descale, and I did so, using the same powdered Dezcal that we've always used. (I'm careful to make sure it's all dissolved before starting the descaling process.) But when I tried the machine the next day, the frother coupling quickly became clogged -- completely clogged. Today, I removed it, and pushed a piece of thin wire through the opening from the outside. A small, shriveled piece of rubber or plastic came out -- apparently part of the coupling's orifice. Now, it's not clogged, but it doesn't draw milk. I'm going to order yet another new coupling...and some new liquid descaler. Wish I knew why descaling seems to have destroyed the new coupling.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Richard, it almost sounds like you have some heavy duty scales somewhere in your system and they're now starting to fall off. You may want to take off the steam boiler and blow it out with some compressed air. Also, I would try taking the main boiler apart and see if you got some calcium deposits there. I would use a dental pick and scrape off all the calcium. That would be my best guess as to what's happening. Oh, you also might want to check the little water filter and see if that may be clogged.

Richard said...

Thanks for the reply, Chris. Heavy duty scales falling off and clogging the frother connection was my first thought, too. But the shriveled piece of whatever that was clogging the opening is black, not white, and way too large to have gone through the tubing from the steam boiler. So I'm pretty sure it was something that was in the coupling to begin with -- maybe a rubber orifice. Also, now that it's gone, the frother doesn't draw milk at all anymore, where it had worked perfectly before. So I ordered two new couplings (the shipping cost is the same as for one), and some official DeLonghi liquid descaler. I'll report back on how things go. Oh, and I had earlier removed and flushed out the little water filter. I'm pretty sure it's not causing a problem, since the machine makes coffee just fine, and the tubing from it is full of water.

Thrift Chic said...

I have taken my machine apart. I cleaned and lubricated the infuser system. The boiler in the back does not get hot. does this mean it is bad? The one on top has plenty of heat. When I said I was not super mechanically inclined, I meant that I do not know the mechanics of why things work. However, tell me how to do something and I can do it.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@thrift chic, on the last picture on this blog post I circled the thermal cut-off switch. if you can by-pass that switch (TEMPORARILY ONLY TO TEST), you'll be able to see if the heater element heats up. most likely, that TCO went bad (happened twice on my machine). If the heater does heat up with a by-passed TCO, just order some one-way TCOs off of ebay and you're set. Here's to the link of the ones I bought: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/10-Pcs-Circuit-Cut-Off-TF-240-Celsius-250V-10A-Thermal-Fuses-T1-/252477917525

Thrift Chic said...

Is there supposed to be a long spring inside the left hose that connects to the top of the rear boiler?

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Thrift Chic, yes, it's put there to prevent the silicone hose from kinking.

Thrift Chic said...

can I just use a jumper wire that i stick inside each coupling?

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Thrift Chic, what would you use the jumper wire for? Just to de-clog the coupling? If so, then yes, or a straightened out paper clip but I wouldn't leave anything in the pipe long term unless it's stainless steel or it will start rusting and will give the water an unpleasant taste.

Thrift Chic said...

Figured it out That did it. Now I need to order the TCO and figure out how to install it. Thanks to you!

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Thrift Chic, I'm glad it worked. When you install the new TCO (assuming you'll buy the cheap ones off ebay), just make sure that the TCO is clamped right against the heating element and that there's no space inbetween. If you're not sure how to hook up the cheap ones off ebay, you want to prefer buying the OEM part from encompass parts or ebay (if you can find it)

Thrift Chic said...

Is this the right part? https://www.encompassparts.com/item/9614760/Delonghi/5113210421/Spring_Microswitch

Thrift Chic said...

I think i found the right part. http://www.ereplacementparts.com/tco-p-695163.html

If i decide to use the ebay ones, How did you secure them to heating element?

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Thrift Chic, the one from encompassparts is NOT the right one but the one from ereplacementparts is. I bought the ones off ebay and if I remember correctly, I simply crimped two male crimp terminals to the end (like these: http://www.easternbeaver.com/single-crimp.jpg) and then used a bent piece of metal to hold it down and against the boiler.

Thrift Chic said...

I ordered the OEM TCO. Actually ordered 2, in case there is another problem and it happens again. I ordered new o rings for the infuser and upper piston. I found a video on line for cleaning and lubricating the infuser. A question I have is because the piston on the generator have the same oring, does it need lubricating also?

Thrift Chic said...

I just read all the comments over again and found my answer. Yes the piston o ring gets lubricated.

Fredrik A said...

HI Chris,
I am back with an update after now having received and installed my new Powerboard (ordered from the US and delivered to an address in the US so it took a while before I had a colleague to pick it up). With the new powerboard the machine starts as it should and no GENERAL ALARM :-) And Steam heater is getting warm as it should. BUT.....now when I try to brew a cup I get the message "LESS COFFEE" which indicates that the Ground coffee funnel is clogged...but it is not. I have cleaned everything and tried to figure out what could be wrong.
Could it be the component counting the number of turns the engine lifting the infuser are doing? If this is not counted correctly I assume the engine brings the infuser up too high (all the way until the upper switch is activated..?) or....? Did you hear about a similar problem or have any idea about my problem?? .....I am longing for my coffee!!!!

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik A, I actually think if you go into the menu and instead of "strong" coffee, select "medium" or whatever other choice you have. Then, inside the coffee compartment, if you make the grind a bit finer (a lower number, I think, such as 2 or 3), it will naturally put less coffee into the piston. Lastly, if you have some food grade silicon grease, grease the 3 large, red o-rings in the piston (two inside the brew unit and one up underneath it). That should hopefully fix the "less coffee" issue.

Fredrik A said...

Hi again,
I have tried all these things (even tried to brew with Pre-ground setting and NO coffee added and it still said LESS COFFEE). So what I am trying to figure out is where is the sensor that makes the machine believe I have too much coffee. Is it a pressure sensor on top brew unit "piston"?
The reason I am on this is also that while I was trying to figure out my previous GENERAL ALARM problem I was running the LOAD TEST (too many times) and I think at one of those moments I by mistake (I don't remember how I made it possible) I ran the motor up without having the infuser installed....and then of course the it moves the infuser attachment upwards without having the MOTOR UP stop sensor being activated (I think it is the infuser itself which is hitting the sensor and makes the motor stop). I wouldn't be surprised if something happened with the motor unit at that point? BTW I have taken the infuser apart previously and greased all o-rings, also the 3rd top o-ring.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik,

Less coffee happens when the "up-limit" switch does not get pushed. The only thing I could imagine is if the little "up-limit" switch either got bent or broken. If you look at the youtube video at the beginning of this blog at 0:34 at the top right you can see a yellow-ish switch with two wires going in. That's the one I would have a look at to see i:

1. it works(no continuity when off and continuity when pressed) and
2. it's not cracked, broken or possibly bent

Hope that helps.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik,

On my other blog post (http://chris-eigenheer.blogspot.ca/2017/01/fixing-delonhi-magnifica-eam4500.html), the first picture, at the left side you see a molded plastic "arm" sticking out from the translucent piston. That's actually the one that gets pushed up when the coffee gets compressed. It could possibly be that the little arm that's sticking out got broken. In that case you'd probably have to replace the whole part.

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik,

On my other blog post that I just mentioned above, the 5th picture shows you a close-up of the little "up-limit" switch I was referring to.

Fredrik A said...

So great of you to engage on this blog, thanks! When I try to brew, the "up-limit" switch gets activated and then the infuser gets moved down, "swept" (i.e. coffee removed from the infuser) and then "LESS COFFEE" is displayed. So the water never gets pushed through for brewing. It seems as if I need to take the brew-unit apart and find out if the molded plastic arm is broken; great at least a lead of what could be the problem. I will travel on vacation tomorrow morning so I will have to get this sorted in a week. I will let you know the result
Tnx - Fredrik

Fredrik A said...

Hi again Chris,
I took some photos from "underneath" and I think I captured the part (see link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hbe8q8zrqxg8so3/AACntKbdGOo2dGWme7tlekUpa?dl=0 )

What do you say? It looks intact and fine. If it is, what else could be the cause?
- Fredrik

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik A,

Do you get a "add coffee" error if you go into pre-ground, NOT add any coffee, and then press ok?

A "less coffee" error could possibly also mean that the infuser is clogged. You said you took it apart, did you blow any air through the pathways? I'm just thinking that maybe one of the little pipes, channels or holes is plugged. Lastly, you might have to take the main boiler apart. There are quite a few different places where it could be clogged. I have some pics of it taken apart on my other post (http://chris-eigenheer.blogspot.ca/2017/01/fixing-delonhi-magnifica-eam4500.html). Let me know how she goes...

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik A,

One more thing to add to my comment above. Have you used a multi-meter to actually test if the switch DOES work. I know that you can probably hear the click when the button gets pushed, but does the switch actually let electricity flow once it gets activated?

Thrift Chic said...

For those of you that bought the OEM TCO. How the heck did you attach it to the boiler. I cant figure out how to hold the nut in place to attach it!

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Thrift Chic, use a piece of scotch tape to tape it in place until the little bolt that goes through the TCO grabs hold of the threads and you should be able to tighten it afterwards. Another option would be to find a long tweezer that is normally closed, one which, if you squeeze together OPENS the tweezer ends and grab the nut with the tweezers until the threaded bolt grabs a hold of the threads. hope that helps. chris

Thrift Chic said...

Chris Eigenheer, thanks to you my baby is up and running. THank you for all your helpful instructions and guidance!

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Thrift Chic, I'm glad to hear you got everything up and running. Would you mind doing a quick write-up as to what the actual problem was and what you did to fix it? It would be helpful for anyone else that might run into the same scenario. Way to go!

Fredrik A said...

Hi again Chris,
I am back after vacation and on to this machine again....

1) Yes I tried to brew pre-ground with no coffee...(did this quite a while ago....). I get the LESS COFFEE....instead of the ADD PRE-GROUND COFFEE message which I assume should come on!!!! Is this a lead?
2) I have taken brew-unit apart and cleared all pathways.....
3) There is connectivity at the up-limit switch (I measured it) and also when running load-test it confirms functioning of the up-limit switch...
4) I didn't take the main boiler apart since I cannot believe it can be the cause (the machine has not been used that much and I have descaled it regularly).

Do you know when in the brew-cycle the machine finds out that there is no coffee added when you brew with pre-ground setting? Is this when infuser is moved up to the brew-unit and it somehow senses that there is no coffee? Or is it earlier?

I have another question which I been wondering about. In the manual it says that the LESS COFFEE message is caused by either
- too much coffee or
- clogged coffee funnel (which in my mind would mean there is too little coffee coming to the infuser?

I guess what I trying to get to is if there is another sensor (which may be malfunctioning) for the ADD GROUND-COFFEE and LESS COFFEE (in the case the coffee funnel is clogged and not enough coffee gets to the infuser....)?

All the best
Fredrik

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik A, wow, that's a tricky one. Whereas I'm by no means a delonghi specialist, from what I can gather, the less coffee either indicates to the machine that there is no water going through the infuser, although, I would think that it would give you the "grind too fine" message instead. The second thing could be that the infuser never makes it all the way up to the piston and doesn't push on the upper limit switch, but you said that you heard the click, and that the switch was on with continuity when you press it and off with no continuity when it's not pressed. It's hard to trouble shoot through the internet, but have you tried using the test mode that the water is in fact going through the top boiler and coming out through the piston? Secondly, have you disassembled the infuser and tested that the water goes through the piston, then through the infuser and out the little hole above the cups? That's probably where I'd go to next. Other than that I'm not sure what else to try...my biggest fear was always that the main board was fried and it ended up not being that, but a simple issue of a broken TCO (different symptoms than yours of course though)...

Fredrik A said...

HI Chris,
Yes this is tricky. Well there was a problem (you remember I had the GENERAL ALARM) with the power board. The new power board cleared the GENERAL ALARM and the machine came on as it should (and I assembled it and brought my wife for a long awaited Cappuccino.....just to find LESS COFFEE alarm....).

I like to get your input if you know;
- In my previous message I asked; if you run Pre-Ground with no coffee added; when in the brew-cycle is the ADD COFFEE message coming? Immediately? Or after the Infuser gets pushed up to the brew-unit (and thus after the up-limit switch gets activated?
- Let me ask about the TEST Mode; When I run test mode I can run MOTOR UP/DOWN, PUMP, HEATER, EV1/EV2/GRINDER and possibly some more? I don't recall though that I can run a test which would push water through the boiler/brew-unit/infuser? Or is supposed to happen when I run the PUMP? When I run the PUMP in test mode, I hear the pump starting but it doesn't get any water flowing. Could this indicate a blockage? But if there is a blockage why can I get warm water (through the water sprout) or even when I switch off the machine it is able to run the cleaning cycle (i.e. water being pushed through the infuser)??

Chris Eigenheer said...

@Frederik A,

I tested your scenario last night by running a coffee with pre-ground selected, but not putting in any coffee. this is what happened:

1. Infuser moved up
2. Infuser moved down and I heard the click of the little arm that normally pushes the puck of ground coffee into the ground coffee container
3. Infuser moved back up to where coffee is normally filled into the infuser
4. Message shows up: "Add Pre-ground coffee"

As for test mode, I disconnected the water hose right out of the pump and pressed the pump button. Naturally, water sprayed out of the pump. Then I assembled the next section of hose (I think it was the one that went to the solenoid 2 - the one in the back) and did it again. no water came out. then i pressed the solenoid switch and heard the click and while pressing the solenoid on, i pressed the water pump button and water came out of the solenoid. that's how I progressed, one little section at a time until I was at the front. for me, the issue ended up being that the steam boiler was clogged, but with your machine, it could be that maybe it's the main boiler unit, maybe it's the little channels and valves inside the brew piston, maybe it's the solenoid, i'm not sure. I would take one section at a time and confirm that you do in fact get water through everything all the way up to the front and out the little spout right above the coffee cup. I hope this helps. keep me updated...

Wiebe said...

Hi Chris with the Dutch name. Inspiring and helpful post. Did not solve my problem. To repair the top heater I was having trouble with, see http://www.vanderworp.org/Repair_DeLonghi_Magnifica_Pronto_Cappuccino_ESAM_4500

Best regards, Wiebe

Fredrik A said...

Hi Chris,
I want to give an update about my "LESS COFFEE" issue (after several other problems "reported" earlier in this blog). My machine is now working perfectly, happy days!
Since last time I wrote about my challenges to identify the issue, our different hypothesises about root cause, I managed to isolate the problem to the hall sensor.. I think I had hinted that I suspected the hall sensor to be the problem but at the same time...what could break in that simple circuit? Well it turned out that one of of the wires (in the flat wire bundle) was broken. I didn't find this out until I took out the transmission kit and more or less as a fluke happened to see that one of the wires was broken. Soldering it together and then it all worked. I must have torn the flat cable when trying to fix some of my earlier problems.....
Now when espressos and cappuccinos are flowing my relationship with my dear wife is back to normal!
Thanks for your support in getting my machine back in shape.
- Fredrik

Chris Eigenheer said...

Wow, that's crazy hard to find. thank you for sharing your follow-up Frederik. I hope it will help someone else out.Funny how you said your relationship with your wife is back to normal! My dear wifey is a bear without her coffee... :)

Richard said...

I've solved one problem with my ESAM5500...but I'm still having frother failures. The door was popping open, which interrupted the cycle until I closed it manually. This was relatively simple to fix (once I found the solution). There's a Youtube video showing the same problem. A comment said: "This is a common problem on the esam series... The brew unit moves up and down and pushes against the sprung flap inside the door - if this sprung flap is sticky (which it will be) instead of the sprung flap moving it pushes the door open...
The fix is to remove the 4 screws and separate the door halves (the best way to get access) and clean behind the flap to remove the deposits that gather there... One of the many pleasures (apart from good coffee) of owning an esam!" I dismantled the entire door assembly, and cleaned out a lot of coffee gunk. Now the door stays closed. Hope this helps someone with the same symptom.

Richard said...

But I can't seem to keep the frother working. I've replaced the carafe coupling multiple times, and frothing will work for a day or a week, and then start to fail. First, it starts sputtering and only partially drawing milk. Then, it only shoots out steam, but no milk. Finally, it clogs completely. At that point (which happened again this morning), steam backs up in the steam boiler, preventing water from getting in, and the thermal fuse trips.

So the question is -- how is coffee gunk (that seems to be what it is) getting into the frother coupling? Is there a check valve that's failed? Do I need to replace the steam boiler (along with the frother coupling)? I've replaced quite a few other parts, so I'd like to get this fixed once and for all -- before I throw the machine out a window.

Unknown said...

Hi, my delonghi rialto had the generic alarm. , I took it a part and cleaned it out. Then it worked for the espresso and the Americano options. But the Cappuccino option did not work. I'm thinking I might have switched wiring or pipe connection. Does any one have a pictures showing the connections of the wires and the pipes. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

Jona Dan said...

Not sure why displayed as unknown, Dan

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