Metallic particles/flakes in the water... - Page 2

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
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sweaner
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#11: Post by sweaner »

Look for a local beer brewing supply store. They may have citric acid.
Scott
LMWDP #248

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GC7
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#12: Post by GC7 »

As mentioned, the active ingredient in baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, is a base and not an acid needed to affect the solubility of calcium based scale. You are also adding corn starch and a few other minor ingredients unless you have laboratory grade sodium bicarb. Also, as mentioned, this should not do much harm to your boiler metals and in fact distilled water will do MUCH more harm in pitting and degrading the metal surface.

You should be fine after following instructions. I'm not looking forward to descaling my Anita any time soon but I've brought home some pure citric acid for the time its necessary.

Good luck and stay calm.

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Mark Well (original poster)

#13: Post by Mark Well (original poster) »

Hello again.

I have followed the instruction given on the link by Dan Kehn. Thanks a lot! I removed the mushroom and soaked this in citric acid solution. Man, it was full of heavy scale, green and very dense. A vast part of the metal chrome is totally eaten. The mushroom chamber was full of chrome particles and scale floating. I washed and flushed many times the chamber to remove all particles. I am thinking now to pass a sandpaper on the mushroom to remove all the remaining chrome to make it more uniform and avoid the possibility of more chrome detaching from there.

Next step will be to open the cover and descale the boiler, disconnecting the "auto-fill" sensor cable. I hope it will not make a mess!!! The boiler is probably full of heavy scale like the mushroom chamber.

Thanks for the help, it was fun and more easy than I thought!
JS

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Mark Well (original poster)

#14: Post by Mark Well (original poster) »

I have descaled the boiler yesterday unplugging the autofill sensor until some pressure goes out of the valve. I let the machine on to descale for about 3 hours. The water went out totally green.

Since I remove the mushroom and cleaned it from scale, I continue to receive metal flakes (sometimes chrome color sometimes gold) when a pull a shot with just water. Maybe I need to remove the shower screen and gasket or the distribution screw? I have followed the instruction to descale the E61 group. When the water is poured in the mushroom chamber, it is better to let the machine turned on to become hot and descale better?

thanks again
JS

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shadowfax

#15: Post by shadowfax »

That's probably a good idea. Do you know if your boiler is nickel-plated? I know that there are some machines that do this, and in that case, you will be battling flakes from inside the heat exchanger as well as the grouphead.

The best thing to do is probably to, as you say, pull the screen and dispersion screw, and flush more. You may need to descale the heat exchanger a few more times. 3 years of tap water can be a pretty nasty ordeal, almost to the point of it being worth it to remove the boiler and pipes and descale them separately. Still, I helped a friend descale his La Valentina, an E61 machine that used to be mine and also has a nickel-plated boiler, and a bunch of the flakes were coming off when we descaled. It took several fillings of acid solution before the water started coming out clear, and then even more flushing to clear the flakes. On the other hand, we were only getting flakes from the boiler out the water tap, nothing from the grouphead.

Also, yes, citric acid will work much faster if the machine is on and hot. This might help you, but remember to be careful! I have been burned by the E61 head twice, one time quite badly. It does NOT feel very good! ;)
Nicholas Lundgaard

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Mark Well (original poster)

#16: Post by Mark Well (original poster) »

To descale the heat exchanger, I just need to fill the boiler with acid citric solution and run the water through grouphead and let it rest for 3-4 hours ? (the heat exchanger will be full of descaling solution?)

I don't get a lot of particles when I empty the boiler from the water wand, so I guess most of the particles come from another place (HX or grouphead).

thanks

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shadowfax

#17: Post by shadowfax »

To descale the grouphead, all you need to do is put the citric acid solution in the tank, insert the feed tube, and run water through the grouphead by turning on the brew lever. You run it till the water coming out smells like citric acid, and then let it sit for awhile. I would suggest you turn the machine on and let it get hot. Then you'll only need to let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before flushing out and adding more acid. If you do it cold, as I mentioned, it takes longer. You simply repeat that until the water stops turning blue after a few minutes, and then use fresh water to flush it thoroughly.
Nicholas Lundgaard

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cannonfodder
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#18: Post by cannonfodder »

The flaking can continue for some time after a descale. I will take a green scrubby or some 800 grit sandpaper and just sand/scrub the chrome off the mushroom and be done with it. Most of the flecks come from the inside of the group where the chrome plating is basically a side effect of the exterior plating. It is thin and weak. Sometimes the chrome from the bottom of the group (above the shower screen) will flake as well since it was not buffed and prepped like the exterior of the group. The gold flakes are the plating that the chrome is plated to. There are several different dips involved in putting chrome plating on.
Dave Stephens

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Mark Well (original poster)

#19: Post by Mark Well (original poster) »

After some days and many liters of cleaning, emptying by water wand and grouphead, I can say that I still got flakes in the cups. Most of the time it is gold color and shinning.

I have sandpapered the mushroom to remove all chrome, it should be correct for this. But maybe the gold flakes are coming from the grouphead above the shower screen. Is there something to do with this? Do I need to sell the machine?

Damn, I asked the woman before if she was getting some particles in the water, if the water was clean and if she maintained the machine. She lied to me all the way. I got the machine 1 month ago but I am thinking to contact the woman again to get refund...

At this point, there is probably no solution, the machine will continue to flake for all the lifetime.

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shadowfax

#20: Post by shadowfax »

It's not totally lost. The machine isn't a black box: you can take it apart and put it back together with minimal technical skills required. I've done it recently to a somewhat larger machine, but I can tell you right now that it's no more or less complicated to do it to a standard E61 machine. It just takes proper tools and common sense.

It sounds to me like you need to completely rebuild your grouphead. At least, that's where I'd start. Take it apart completely, replace all the gaskets, descale all the pieces separately, and take a small pipe brush to the grouphead feed lines. If, after you've put it back together, you're still getting flakes, you need to pull the boiler and brush out the heat exchanger. Alternately, you can take it to a service center and have it redone for probably a couple hundred bucks. I would recommend talking to the seller about a partial refund due to her gross inaccuracy in item description. As you'll read in the link to my machine restoration, I had a seized pump that needed to be rebuilt/replaced, and the seller didn't realize this. At my request, he refunded me the money to buy a new pump and portafilter (I had asked him specifically how bad they were... he said they were fine, and I really didn't feel the same way). Hopefully your seller will be that helpful.

Of course, if you just want to get out, I guess that's fine, but know that it takes a lot more than what you've got to ruin the machine. The longer a machine is run without maintenance, the more maintenance will be required. At some point, scale issues definitely go beyond what you can fix with simple acid flushes.
Nicholas Lundgaard