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Gaggia Classic - No steam, just hot water.

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  • Gaggia Classic - No steam, just hot water.

    I recently bought a used gaggia classic and I'm having trouble producing steam. Despite my best efforts, all I can get is a short burst of steam but the majority of the time, just hot water. I'm not too sure if it's the machine at fault or me not knowing how to use it. After I pull a shot, I push down both the steam and brew switches, wait until the brew light comes on then open the valve. I notice the brew light does go on and off at different times, I'm not entirely sure what it represents.

  • #2
    the gaggia normally sits around the 90ºC mark in "brew" mode (ie, when the steam switch is off). when you flick the steam switch on, the heater element will come on (the element light goes out), the temperature rises and the steam builds. once the machine reaches around 160ºC the steam thermostat cuts power to the element and the boiler cools to around 120ºC before it will kick in again.

    basically, the best way to use the gaggia's steam system is to open the wand a few seconds before the element cuts out at 160°C. the little gaggia boiler can maintain a good deal of steam pressure for long enough to stretch a decent volume of milk so long as the boiler stays on for the duration. without a temperature gauge or pid ( both of which are a worthy upgrade imho) you're flying a bit blind, but i would suggest that you time how long the machine takes to get from brew-idle temperature to full steam temperature after you've flicked the steam switch. opening the steam wand at 2/3s to 3/4s of that time should give you a good point at which you can produce good steam for an indefinite period of time.

    the other thing to keep in mind is that after steaming, the boiler seems to run a bit "dry" so if you have just stretched some milk and left the steam switch on and the machine is cycling from 120 to 160 then next batch of steam will be poor and unusable. to overcome this, i suggest you run the pump as the steam is cooling to help to re-fill the boiler (for lack of a better description).

    great little machines for the dollar, they just need a bit of playing with to get the best of them. if you haven't already, research the OPV mod, the silvia steam wand mod and look into a pid.

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    • #3
      oh yeah, and you don't need to run the "brew" switch when you steam - you just flick the steam switch on and leave the brew switch off and away you go.

      flicking both the steam and the brew switches on is what you do if you want hot water coming from the steam wand.

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      • #4
        The problem is that you are switching both the brew and steam switches on, switch only the steam switch on, wait a little while, then turn the tap on to purge any water from the wand, then steam your milk.

        When you turn the "Brew" switch on you activate the pump, which will pump cold water into the boiler, that's why you're getting hot water out, for steaming the pump in a single boiler should NOT be activated.

        Make sure you re-prime the boiler after you're finished though otherwise you're liable to burn out your element, turn off the steam switch, open the tap and turn the brew switch on until you get a constant stream of water from the wand, then turn the brew switch off and close the tap.

        EDIT: Heh, note to self don't leave post half-typed for 10 mins...

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