Gaggia Classic - Maintenance Descale or Non-scaling Water

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#1: Post by j_bravo14 »

Been using non-scaling water for my Breville Dual Boiler since I got it to avoid the need to descale.

Is it recommended to use non-scaling water (Distilled + Baking Soda) for the aluminum gaggia boiler? or is it better to just use filtered water then descale every 3 months?

Any pros/cons between the two approach?


#2: Post by Smo »

distilled water + baking soda - no cons.

just use filtered water and then descale every 3 months -
You cannot know how well the scale has been removed.

Team HB

#3: Post by JRising »

Use properly softened water and I'd suggest not descaling unless you have reason to believe it needs it.

A very mild descaling solution can be pumped through, rather than taking it all apart, and looking at what comes out will give you some idea of whether or not it needs descaling.

If it does need it, descale only what's needed. It's an aluminum boiler, the bolt on valves are made out of "Cheapite", low grade mixed metal or barely better than average pot metal. Don't dissolve it. You know how the insides of aluminum boilers look so badly pitted and etched? That's what you want to avoid.

If you want an aluminum boilered machine to last longer than a disposable should, give it only excellent, soft water.


#4: Post by bean74 replying to JRising »

I read stuff like this, and can't help but shake my head at the blatant exaggeration. I pulled apart my 2018 Classic a few weeks ago, which sits turned on at LEAST 4 - 5 hours every day running on my regular old suburban Philadelphia well water and other than where the o-ring to the steam valve had leaked a bit (typical Italian quality control), it looked almost like the day it was born. In 4 years, I've de-scaled only 4 times, only when there was a serious blockage interfering with flow to the group or closure of the steam valve.

Yes, it's made of cast aluminum alloys. No, it's not the most expensive machine on earth. But it has held up pretty darn well the last 4.5 years, and I'd expect another 5 - 10 years will be no issue. A friend of mine just pulled apart his, which I believe is 8 years old and ran most of its life on Allentown tap water (yes Billy, that Allentown), also used several times daily. It was whistle-clean inside, no issues.

Where do you get off suggesting it's disposable?

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Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

As I believe John is a professional servicer, I think he's seen more machines than either of us.

Looking at machines of previous generations with, in retrospect, material choices that were not good ones for longevity show a range of degradation. There are occasional survivors that can be maintained carefully, and a lot that unfortunately should have gone the scrap heap a decade or two ago.

(5 years is not an old machine. I've got ones that are over 50 years old at this point.)

Team HB

#6: Post by JRising »

bean74 wrote:
Where do you get off suggesting it's disposable?
I certainly would throw a Gaggia boiler away and replace it rather than try to cut out and press new elements into it. I would certainly throw away a Gaggia boiler rather than machine the inner walls after they've begun pitting. I would certainly throw away the valves attached to the boiler rather than cut them open and try to put a new valve face on either the steam valve or the slug of the three-way. I suppose I consider it disposable because Gaggia intended it and because of what it consists of.
Good for you, though. We've all got to draw the line between disposable and worth a chance somewhere. I'm glad you're looking out for the Gaggias, I may be too unwilling to "give that chance". For what it's worth, reconsider taking the advice I thought I had offered... You don't want to descale that boiler if you don't have to. It would be better to not have to replace it if you can avoid exposing it to acids.


#7: Post by bean74 »

Got it. Yes, I agree, these parts are more easily and less expensively replaced than repaired. And if that's what you had meant when using the word disposable, then I apologize for my response. It had read as if you were saying the entire machine was a disposable product, which I suppose everything is eventually, but I've seen many an old Gaggia Classic still ticking after many years of use.

Team HB

#8: Post by JRising replying to bean74 »

Well, I'm glad to have your approval.
Now, back to the original poster's question. Give it good water, try not to have to descale it too often.