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Thread: Fixing a Breville BES920 steam boiler issues (descale -> 'vALv' error + burnt probe?)

  1. #1
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    Unhappy Fixing a Breville BES920 steam boiler issues (descale -> 'vALv' error + burnt probe?)

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    HI CS family,

    I have picked up this second-hand Breville BES920 (serial 1438-005204-ANZ) in the hopes of giving it some TLC and brewing tasty espressos.
    The only issue machine had was as follows:
    - steam would leak into the drip tray from inside the machine (leak in the steam boiler)

    First thing I thought to do was to do a descale as I didn't know how often the machine had been used... and I got into the trusty 'vALv' error on the second cycle (water flush) of the descale.

    I tried several things that I gleaned from the CS forums, namely:
    - Following the Breville ANZ instructions for descaling the machine
    - Letting the boilers drain overnight
    - Tilting the machine to get extra fluids out...
    all to no avail.

    Further, when I exit the descale cycle the steam boiler isn't firing up / three beep error.

    I had purchased a BES9XX o-ring kit from eBay and decided to go inside and replace the o-rings / inspect the valves. Upon inspection, I found the (attached) probe all gunked up. The black stuff looks like melted plastic, and it was on the clip and on the probe. After cleaning this up and replacing all of the O-rings I've fired up the machine and still getting the three-beep error, and can't get past the 'vALv' error. Further, the steam boiler isn't heating up anymore (I felt the right-hand side of the chassis and it isn't warm at all).

    Brains trust - here are my questions:
    1) Based on the pictures provided, what probe has gone all foul and "black"?
    2) Any other options for getting past the vALv error?
    3) Any suggestions on diagnosing why the steam boiler is not firing up again.


    Thanks in advance!
    Y2J
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  2. #2
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    In my experience the valv error, the three beeps on start up and the steam boiler not heating can all be solved by closing the steam knob on the right hand side of the machine. If the machine senses the steam valve is open it knows it's a fool's errand to try and heat water past 100C. Don't know about the probe.

  3. #3
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    In my experience the valv error, the three beeps on start up and the steam boiler not heating can all be solved by closing the steam knob on the right hand side of the machine. If the machine senses the steam valve is open it knows it's a fool's errand to try and heat water past 100C. Don't know about the probe.
    Hey Ninja,
    Tried the the steam wand open / closed when turning on and nothing happened

  4. #4
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    So, I did some digging and that probe is the NTC probe (5.19)
    BREVILLE Espresso Coffee BES920 ntc wires for steam boiler | BigWarehouse Spares
    Hopefully replacing this does some good, as a new one looks nothing like this dodgy one.

    Can someone tell me what an NTC probe does?

  5. #5
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yojabbajabba View Post
    Can someone tell me what an NTC probe does?
    So it turns out that this NTC probe is key for managing the temperature in the boiler, and so if mine is kaput then that might be part of the issue

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    Quote Originally Posted by yojabbajabba View Post
    So it turns out that this NTC probe is key for managing the temperature in the boiler, and so if mine is kaput then that might be part of the issue
    Any progress mate???

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    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfella View Post
    Any progress mate???
    Doing the install tomorrow of a replacement NTC and steam boiler fuse. Wish me luck!
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    Any success?

  9. #9
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    I got around to pulling the machine apart this afternoon and had a mild panic attack just looking at how much work it's going to be! I'm going to have to take this slow as getting to the fuse will require uplugging all the probes, and accessing the CPU. Not a two hour task that I thought it was going to be! Will update again when I've had a chance to calm down and think of a logical plan of attack - I'm not giving up!

  10. #10
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    I did a quick write up doing this a month or so ago. Fairly easy, a couple of tricks which I wrote. It was in the other thread.

    Cheers

  11. #11
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    I don't descale, ever. Because I use scale free water. But about every month or so, I drain my steam boiler just to reduce the buildup of minerals (of the non-scale kind). Once not so long ago, I did this, and the fill pump just kept running and running and didn't stop. I began to think the boiler wasn't filling. And I was right. I unplugged the machine and open the boiler drain and nothing came out. So I opened the top of the machine and tapped around the vacuum breaker at the top of the steam boiler, closed the boiler drain again, plugged the machine in and this time the boiler filled and all was normal again.

    Not sure how much of this applies to you/OP, but maybe before you tackle this big job, open your steam boiler drain and see if there is water in it. If so then maybe continue with your repair. But if not, then you need to figure out why. And hope that the heater didn't try to come on, and then melt the thermal fuse. You can replace the thermal fuse, but it also requires big disassembly, IMS.

    -Peter
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  12. #12
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    In my friends machine the steam boiler was empty because the probes were giving a false full reading after the descale.

    Luckily the thermal fuse did its job and blew before the element. Its s bit painful to replace but not really that bad.

    Cheers

  13. #13
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    Not sure how much of this applies to you/OP, but maybe before you tackle this big job, open your steam boiler drain and see if there is water in it. If so then maybe continue with your repair. But if not, then you need to figure out why. And hope that the heater didn't try to come on, and then melt the thermal fuse. You can replace the thermal fuse, but it also requires big disassembly, IMS.

    -Peter
    Unfortunately I think I'm beyond this step. I let it drain overnight, but the steam boiler got super-hot after I exited the cleaning cycle and the machine "reheated' itself, presumably dry.

  14. #14
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    I'm struggling to find this write-up - could you please direct me to it?
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    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    NTC means negative temperature coefficient. This is a sensor for temperature. It seems they are described by their resistance at 25c. I have a few parts for a sunbeam 6910, it has 100k ohm NTC sensors.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by yojabbajabba View Post
    I'm struggling to find this write-up - could you please direct me to it?
    Agree. I would like to see this, too. While I have not been victim to needing it, plenty of others have. I would at least like to know where to point them when they need help.

    -Peter
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  17. #17
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    I would suggest doing a manual flush of the steam boiler, cleaning the probes, replace all the hot orings and then reset the descale flag. Don't even try and do it the Breville way. You can find out to do this here
    Last edited by Javaphile; 15th April 2019 at 09:24 PM. Reason: Commercial link removed
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  18. #18
    Member yojabbajabba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OutwestCoffee View Post
    I would suggest doing a manual flush of the steam boiler, cleaning the probes, replace all the hot orings and then reset the descale flag. Don't even try and do it the Breville way. You can find out to do this here
    Many thanks for the advice. The link to the resetting of the ValV error flag in the article links to the Wordpress login page. Is there an alternate way to see that article?
    Last edited by Javaphile; 15th April 2019 at 09:24 PM. Reason: Commercial link removed

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    Cut it and paste it here... So we all can see it. Though, I think it's on here somewhere.

  20. #20
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    This is how I do steam boilers:

    Step 1: Remove probes, NTC, steam tap tube and anti-vac valve.

    Step 2: Take everything removable off the machine then flip it upside down and let all the water out of the boiler. You'll need to flip it fast and also hold onto the top cover to stop is flopping around.
    Builds good upper body strength doing this a few times.

    Step 3: Siphon or funnel in descaler, allow to soak for a day.

    Step 4: Flip machine again and drain out descaler.

    Step 5: Siphon or funnel in fresh water then flip and drain. Do this again. This is generally enough to flush any remaining sediment and taste out.

    Step 6: Add 200ml or so of fresh water. This means the element is submerged on power up and the tiny steam pump has less work to do. The machine shouldn't power the steam boiler element if it senses both long probes are dry but better to be safe.

    Step 7: Clean probes and replace all boiler o-rings, don't forget about the heat exchanger o-rings as they're the most important ones. Power up and away you go.

    Regarding resetting the descaling alarm manually, I'll check tomorrow and see if I'm allowed to disclose how to do this as it may be restricted information (pretty sure it isn't but I don't feel like being sued).
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