Question about FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine

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X5 Boiler::Can you share how you did this replacement?

I'm so glad you wrote about this part. I'll order the part immediately. We have never opened the X5. Can you describe how you get the machine open?

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Alexismaster,

The part I refered to was for the X1 -so not sure if the heating element is the same and/or the repair is comparable. If you want to open your machine, please be sure to unplug it first. Then just unscrew the screws that you see are on the outside of the machine. Probably a good idea to take a photo so you know where the parts go when you put it back together. Taking apart the boiler and related parts will require you to have some basic knowledge and if you get to the point where you are unsure, it may be best to leave it to the repair people.

Good luck
A

Posted on Sep 10, 2008

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Hi
Pull the clock out of the front. There is an 8mm nut that needs to be removed. There is a 2mm Allen screw in the back center of the machine, that needs to come out. Then pry between the top cover and the machine to release the snap pins.
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Apr 18, 2010 | FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine

1 Answer

How do I clean my francisfrancis machine all the way through . It's a bit old and hasn't been used in three years. I have been running water through it and it comes out milky


I don't clean my X5 nearly enough, but when I do, I use a product called Cleancaf (no affiliation, etc.). It's a powder that comes in packets. You open up a packet, mix it with hot water and pump it through your machine. You can (should) also soak the parts in it -- portafilter, baskets, etc. You may also be able to use vinegar or something, I've never really researched further. My main trick is to always always always use the pump to fill the boiler back up immediately after steaming/frothing milk. I'm not a scientist, but my thinking is that this extra step not only prepares the machine for making the next shot and helps keep the heater coil fully immersed, but also helps avoid mineral deposits inside the boiler -- and perhaps even helps dissolve any that have already formed.

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Picture showing burnt out heater element and top removed from X5

Most problems with too much heat, too little or circuit breaker tripping most likely point to this.

If your water is "hard" then this will happen. Clean with vinegar weekly, or one of those expensive solutions they sell to avoid this.

Part ordered through illy's parts sub, $35 and 3 weeks. About 2 hours to disassemble/reassemble.

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Apr 12, 2009 | FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine

4 Answers

X5 Boiler::Can you share how you did this replacement?


Alexismaster -

Yes, mine's an X-5. I'm working on it but just at the "parts procurement" stage right now. While I am really slack with my "real job" I have time to lavish on such things, it seems. Stand by for details & I'll work the second half up, but it'll probably be next week before my parts get here.

Not to jump the gun, though - did you test the machine to see if the coil has corroded through? Potentially you could have a thermostat problem, but if the machine proves to "need" the ground connection to heat, you have isolated the problem to the element itself. Use caution as mentioned in my previous description of that testing process - if your machine's case is indeed functioning as a neutral connection as mine was, then it is carrying power and presents a shock hazard. If you were to plug the machine into a GFCI-type outlet, it would trip the sensor immediately, but many homes don't have such outlets. That would be a good preliminary test.

To get into the machine, you need only remove two Philips screws. Pull your power-cord out of the back of the machine first. Pull the clock straight out towards you - it's a friction fit. Above the clock within the machine you'll find one Philips screw. The second screw is in the analogous location on the back of the machine near the top, easily visible. With those two screws out, the whole top lifts off. It will have a ground lead attached. You can just lay the lid over upside down to get it out of the way.

If testing indicated your element is corroded through, do a confirmation test as follows. You'll need to replug the power cord and switch it on, putting it in either steam or hot-water switch positions, and reminding yourself that the guts are all potentially live now, so there's a potential for shock or electrocution...seriously. The "heating" indicator lamp should be on, indicating the element is getting power from the hot side of the line. The boiler is the muffin-sized heavy metal casting towards the front of the machine, and it will have several connections sprouting from it. The ones you're concerned with lead to the protruding tips of the element, which are separated by 40mm from each other. The element ends are held in place (and sealed to keep the water in the boiler) by nuts and washers. [Don't confuse this with the "snap-disc" safety switch, also installed in the boiler, which also has two leads on it; that component has a plastic body and will be marked something like 125C, indicating the temp at which it will open. That's the only component keeping your machine from melting down, though, so be nice to it.]

Anyway, having identified the two heating-element leads, you'll see one is blue and carries your line power/hot (coming from the top light), while the other is brown, and is connected both to the bottom light and to the thermostat PC board, where it's supposed to be either connected to neutral or not, depending on the thermostat's feedback from the temp sensor. While listening to the sound of the boiler heating, pull that brown lead off at the element connection, keeping fingers clear of exposed metal. If your element has corroded through, the machine will keep heating evenwithout that connection - it is getting that return-connection through the case and ground line, which should never carry power unless something has gone wrong. You still might see some sparking as you pull the lead off, though. If you're not sure, leave it disconnected at the point for a while and see if the machine seems to keep heating. The "heating" lamp will still work, only because it's in series with that snap-disc switch, so when that opens, the lamp goes dark, and then it'll cycle on/off only because of the snap-disc switch.

If the above test is negative, well...I think it's your thermostat. I'd be less hopeful about a fix there; as far as I know those are proprietary, though a take-off from another (Saeco?) machine might just fill the bill.

If you're convinced by the above process that your element is bad, it's time to pull the ****** out. This will require some tools not everyone has around. You'll need to remove the whole boiler assembly. The nuts/bolts are metric but there is some cross-over to SAE. Before you start that, mark all wiring connections to make reconnection less mysterious. Shoot digital-camera pix from all angles to help reconstruct if need be.

Start by pulling up (gently) on the two small black thermostat sensor wires; the probe is goo'd into a well in the boiler with silicone grease that keeps it in good thermal contact with the boiler. Lay it aside toward the back of the unit.

Continue with the two tubing connections at the sides of the boiler: these require a 10mm open-end wrench. Note for later: these are somewhat sensitive to overtightening - it's easy to do that when you put things back together. Just snug them up gently and watch for leaks, and then tighten a bit more if need be - you can't undo a damaged tubing connection by loosening it, but you can go the other way with good results.

Then from the underside of the unit, use an 8mm or 5/16" socket to unscrew four nuts that secure the boiler within the unit. The chrome twist-lock ring will come away from the bottom, and the boiler from the top.

Lift the boiler out. Particularly if it's still hot, note that there's still water in the boiler, and it's going to dribble out the open ports while you work. A stack of old newspaper will help deal with this.

Using the same socket as before, now remove the four BOLTS, threaded into the bottom-plate of the boiler. Mine were somewhat corroded and I plan to replace them with stainless when the time comes. With those bolts out, the boiler will separate into two parts. Likely you'll have a bunch of corroded flaky **** in there, too - improves the finish of your espresso, one hopes. At this point you may already be able to see corroded holes in the metal covering of your element, exposing the coiled heating wire itself. Remove the element by unscrewing two nuts with flat-washers (13mm or 1/2"). You'll have to bend the electrical connection tabs up straight to clear - don't bend them more than needed or they may break off.

Now you're in the same boat as I am - waiting for parts. I'll have to continue this with a chapter 2 after I get the stuff I need in. I'll shoot some pix then & see if I can upload them.

--pants


Sep 10, 2008 | FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine

3 Answers

Thermostat X5


Have you actually seen that your t'stat is burnt, or is the machine just acting like it is? If not, check. I found that my heating element had corroded through. Unbelievably, this doesn't result in immediate failure, nor death, etc, though it sure ain't what UL might have hoped for - and it acts like a busted t'stat. The machine will keep heating, though irregularly, completely ignoring any switching in the thermostat, being regulated only by a crappy snap-disc "catastrophe-preventer" switch. The t'stat is set up for some lame reason only to switch the neutral side, flying in the face of basic safety in electrical design. The corroded-through element seeks a ground, right through the boiler water, through the case ground, and (assuming you have a working three-wire electrical system) you won't know the difference, as long as you don't let your boiler run dry...though your electrician might be in for a little surprise elsewhere in your house if he opens that ground-line while your machine is on. I'm now trying to match up the element with something close, since there's no way in hell I'm sending this machine across the world to factory service.

Jun 28, 2008 | FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine

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