How to Resolve Flow Issues with the Rancilio Silvia

Learn how to resolve flow issues with the Rancilio Silvia, like getting no steam from the steam wand, only getting flow from the steam wand, only getting flow from the brew head, and getting no flow at all.

Flow Issues

The first place to start with any flow issue is cleaning the machine. Before going through these steps please make sure the machine is cleaned.

No Steam From Wand

  1. Check the brew function on the machine and see if water is able to flow through the machine for this function.
    1. If the brew water is not flowing either refer to the "No Flow At All" section of this article.
    2. If the brew water flows but is not hot refer to the "On But Not Heating" section of this machine's "Not Heating Or Powering On" article.
  2. Turn the hot water function on for the steam wand to test for flow.
    1. If nothing comes through refer to the "Only Flow From Brew Head" section of this article.
    2. If water does come through try setting the machine to steam mode again and testing for steam. Running the hot water function can help remove blockages in the steam wand assembly.
  3. Unplug the machine and remove the top to check for any loose or disconnected wires, and resecure these connections.
  4. If nothing else looks wrong then the steam thermostat has probably failed and will need to be replaced. Instructions for replacing the thermostat are shown in the "SILVIA_Cleaning_&_Maintenance" document attached at the end of this article.

Only Flow From Steam Wand

Try these steps in the following order. Between each step test the machine for flow. If flow is restored to the machine do an immediate descale of the unit before returning to normal use.

  1. Test the flow of the machine without the portafilter attached. If the machine flows with the portafilter removed then one of the filter baskets is blocking the flow. Clean the baskets by soaking them in a solution of hot water and backflushing powder for 30 minutes, or boiling the baskets for 30 minutes.
  2. Make sure the grouphead is completely clean and free of debris. Be sure to completely disassemble the grouphead for cleaning. Instructions for disassembling and cleaning the grouphead are shown in the "SILVIA_Cleaning_&_Maintenance" document attached at the end of this article.
  3. The solenoid valve may be dirty or blocked and will need to be disassembled and cleaned. Instructions for cleaning the solenoid valve can be found in the "SILVIA_3-Way_Solenoid_Cleaning" document attached at the end of this article.

Only Flow From Brew Head

  1. Remove the tip from the steam wand and test the flow using the hot water function. If flow is restored then the tip needs to be cleaned and reattached.
  2. If the flow is still blocked then there may be a blockage in the steam wand itself. Clean the wand by using a pipe brush that has synthetic or plastic bristles; metal bristles can damage the wand. Then soak the wand in a solution of hot water and backflushing powder for ten minutes. Test flow again.
  3. The solenoid valve may be dirty or blocked and will need to be disassembled and cleaned. Instructions for cleaning the solenoid valve can be found in the "SILVIA_3-Way_Solenoid_Cleaning" document attached at the end of this article.

No Flow At All

If the machine is not outputting any water follow the instructions below. Once flow is restored make sure to pull a full 8 oz. of water using the hot water function to ensure the machine is correctly primed.

  1. Check the water tank to make sure it is filled to the max line.
  2. Make sure the inlet lines are in place and not blocked by anything.
  3. Activate the hot water function on the machine. You should hear a vibration noise coming from the machine to indicate that the pump is activated.
    1. If you can't hear anything coming from the machine then there may be a loose or disconnected wire inside of the machine. Unplug the machine and open up the top to inspect the inside for any loose or disconnected wires, particularly at the pump or the front switch panel. Firmly secure any loose wires and test flow again using the hot water function.
    2. If you hear the machine vibrating then the pump is turning on. Unplug the machine and open the top to inspect the inlet line to make sure it isn't kinked or pinched. If the hose is kinked straighten it out and then plug the machine in again to test for flow.
  4. The pump of the machine may be vapor locked, requiring a force prime of the unit.
    1. To force prime this unit take a kitchen syringe, turkey baster, or priming pump and fill it with water.
    2. Insert the tip of it into the inlet line of the machine.
    3. Activate the hot water function of the machine. When you hear the pump kick on quickly force water with your priming tool.
    4. Immediately turn the machine off to prevent air from being drawn into the line.
    5. Repeat this process multiple times. After 3-4 manual primes you should start to see water spitting from the steam wand. Once this happens you can put the inlet line back into the tank and try to prime the machine normally by pulling 8 oz. of water through the machine using the hot water function.
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