Water, Scaling and Descaling with HX machines? - Page 5

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
LeoZ
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Postby LeoZ » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:01 pm

cannonfodder wrote:I thoroughly overfill the boiler when I descale, water pumping out the steam wand for several seconds. When it heats I get water spitting out of the vacuum breaker valve. I put a towel around the breaker valve to soak up any spatter and keep another handy just in case it gets to wet.

You don't want water dripping off the boiler and onto the electronics. On my Isomac, the level box and circuits are under the boiler and behind a heat shield. Not the best design in my opinion.


i overfilled the boiler as well; i let the water come out of the water sensor hole, and when the boiler was filled, the vac breaker (?) and pressure relief valve(?) shot watery steam out of their relief holes as well. put the water level sensor back in, and let it sit for about 2 hours.

i kept the machine on since it held the heat nicely that way, but did cycle a LOT. i dont know if its b/c the panels were removed or b/c there was no steam 'headspace' to help it maintain equilibrium. i think im going to insulate the parts on it, not only for wire protection from the heat, but to help the thing from cycling so much. with such a small deadband (well, 1.5bar is tight to me!) it cycles too much, and i dont want electronics failing.

flushed it about 3 tankfulls of tap water, then drained the boiler and filled and flushed with my filtered water line.

all in all the process was uneventful; blueish water came out of the grouphead (flushed that as well), and out of hot water wand. weird thing was some black stuff came out of steam wand, maybe some milk that got sucked back in? i do run the steam quite a bit after i froth, but maybe some still manages to get lodged. im happy to see the machine run so rock solid with all the cycling i just put it through, thats certainly good news!

only ran 2 shots after cleaning to lube the machine up, all seems to be working well. :)

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e61brewski
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Postby e61brewski » Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:22 pm

i should have asked this a LONG time ago.

but what if you live in an area where the tap water is just ridiculously soft? witness my local water system.

when i peruse jim's charts on the insanely long water faq, he seems to indicate that at this level of softness there would indeed be no scale build-up. is this true?

i use charcoal-filtered tap water in my isomac tea.

secondarily, of course, is the taste issue. jim tested some uber-soft water and reported "an unbalanced, overly bright shot of strong coffee with crema on top." this isn't remotely close to describing my own espresso. and i drink a good number of high quality shots from commercial establishments outside my home state.

what gives?
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another_jim
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Postby another_jim » Sat Aug 26, 2006 5:11 pm

e61brewski wrote:i should have asked this a LONG time ago.

but what if you live in an area where the tap water is just ridiculously soft? witness my local water system.


Whoa, distilled tap water! This one could even make trouble for the level sensor in the boiler.

Fill the boiler every few weeks with this water, and you'll never have scale problems. For your coffee (tea and any other drinking) water, this is pretty terrible. You can get a calcite cartridge (installs just like a charcoal filter on water systems, but requires plumbing in a rack for the cartridges) to bring up the mineral level. The other alternative is a European still mineral water like Evian or Vichy, which contain about 10 times the level of minerals good for coffee. Four ounces of that per tank will bring you up to a reasonable level.

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Postby randomperson » Sat Aug 26, 2006 7:09 pm

another_jim -- have you any opinions about Poland Spring Water? I'm using that exclusively in La Valentina in the fond hope that it will render descaling unnecessary!
I love La Valentina!

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another_jim
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Postby another_jim » Sat Aug 26, 2006 7:32 pm

randomperson wrote:another_jim -- have you any opinions about Poland Spring Water? I'm using that exclusively in La Valentina in the fond hope that it will render descaling unnecessary!


Last time I checked, it was around 5 grains hardness, good for coffee, but will scale.

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e61brewski
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Postby e61brewski » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:10 pm

Whoa, distilled tap water! This one could even make trouble for the level sensor in the boiler.


interesting. because every great once in awhile, the autofill will kick in to top off the boiler, then refuse to stop for a good 30 seconds. the pump just goes and goes. this is rare -- 6 times or so i can ever remember, and i run the machine 24/7. but the softness could be culprit, eh?

Fill the boiler every few weeks with this water, and you'll never have scale problems.


sweet action. no scale for me!

For your coffee (tea and any other drinking) water, this is pretty terrible.


i still don't get this. call me a brick-tongue, but i've had many great shots produced elsewhere from places like intelly, swilled a huge amount in charlotte this year, etc. and i just don't taste the difference you've described. obviously, my shot-to-shot is more sporadic, less consistently robust in the bod department. but definitely nothing on par with "overly bright shot of strong coffee with crema on top." am i just retromingent? taste-blind?

You can get a calcite cartridge ... The other alternative is a European still mineral water like Evian or Vichy, which contain about 10 times the level of minerals good for coffee. Four ounces of that per tank will bring you up to a reasonable level.


hmmm, interesting idea. though if the tay-AH is plumbed in, neither one sounds practical.



the local water system has always bragged it has some of the "best water in the country." amazing i never realized what that meant. :idea:
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betxs
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Postby betxs » Sat Oct 07, 2006 6:02 pm

Dan,

What size and type/material is the o-ring for the mushroom? Do the different colors of o-rings have something to do with their uses?

Do you or anyone else know where to buy o-rings online, but not from espresso supply shops? I think that I've seen some online o-ring sellers, but I guess I would need to know the size, type, etc.

Thank you to anyone that will be of help!!!

MikeC



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HB wrote:Added for reference, before/after scale buildup on an E61 "mushroom":

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HB
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Postby HB » Sat Oct 07, 2006 6:45 pm

I'm not an expert on O-rings, but it looked pretty ordinary to me. I suppose the color could be a temperature rating. The boys at espressoparts.com could confirm if this O-ring is imbued with special properties. Or take the old one to your local plumbing supply for a replacement (places like Ace Hardware have a selection of O-rings of every size and material imaginable in the open bins).
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cannonfodder
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Postby cannonfodder » Sun Oct 08, 2006 1:57 pm

When I rebuilt my Faema I replaced every O-ring, seal, and gasket on it. I purchased everything at the local hardware store. The only unique bits were the heating element gasket, which came with my new heating element, and the group to frame insulating gasket.
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Postby cajun_brew » Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:24 pm

Can't Citric acid be used to descale the HX or is Cleancaf a must?

Probably going to descale my 11 month old Anita shortly.
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