Did descaling ruin/damage my Lelit Bianca V2?!! - Page 2

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
Nunas
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#11: Post by Nunas »

AlphaDeltak wrote:My cold tap water is 145 ppm or 20.6 gn/gal. We have a water softener that obviously isn't quite set correctly. I bought a ZERO water filter for the mean time but then read it's advantageous to add back minerals into the water since the filter softens the water TOO much. Haven't started that yet so currently I am just using cold tap water with a generic in tank "water softener" that in reality probably doesn't do much. I will be honest I never even considered water quality with my Breville Barista Express, I just focused on making my espresso taste half decent. Now with my new grinder I got with the machine all these other factors are coming into play since it's becoming easier to pull good shots.
Your water softener will not appreciably change the reading of a simple TDS meter. That is, the incoming water will have numerous minerals in it, giving the TDS reading. After the water softener, the resin bed exchanges the hardness minerals for sodium or potassium, depending on what salt you're using to regenerate the softener. It does not remove them. So, your reading of 145 isn't necessarily an indication that the softener is not set right. The best indication is simply that instead of hard scale in your kettles, dishwasher and so on, you'll have nothing, because sodium ions do not form hard scale. Also, when you shower, if you get that slippery feeling when rinsing off, then the softener is working.

I'm not a big believer in ZERO filters. I tried them but find the water begins to taste off to me after using them a while. YMMV. :wink:

If I understand you correctly, you have both a whole house water softener, and a softener cartridge in the espresso machine. If so, you can remove the cartridge in the machine. Alternatively, you can leave it there, but don't recharge it. I left mine in my previous machine for some years without recharging, figuring that it might add a tiny bit of filtration.

RO machines soften too much, inasmuch as they remove almost everything from the water. Thus, some folks add remineralization cartridges. Ditto if you're using distilled water. You could add back a bit of hardness minerals with a cartridge if you like, but IMO, it isn't needed with water that is softened by an ion exchange softener. In any case, I'm not a big believer in remineralization cartridges, because you can't accurately control how much remineralization takes place. I'd be more inclined to go with RO water, to which a bit of bicarb is added to get the TDS up in the range of 30 to 50 ppm.

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HB
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#12: Post by HB »

AlphaDeltak wrote:Just out of curiosity how difficult is getting into the steam boiler on these dual boiler machines?
Typically there's a fitting for the vacuum breaker that's not too hard to remove. That gives you a port large enough for a bore scope camera. Or you can just descale assuming it's not too bad and think happy thoughts. :lol:
Dan Kehn

JRising
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#13: Post by JRising »

Well don't open the boiler and potentially have to change the seals. Just remove the level probe to check if it's got anything on it.

erik82
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#14: Post by erik82 »

But keep in mind that descaling can do more harm then good if a machine is in a bad condition. Always check the inside before descaling by only flushing a descaling solution through the machine. If maintenance is done on a regular basis then you should be good but if there's a lot of scale in there it will come loose and can clog all valves, solenoids, pipes etc leaving you with a much bigger problem then before.

When an espresso machine is in a very bad state the only proper way to descale is to tear the whole machine apart and descale all of the components in a descaling bath and then rebuild the machine. Looking at the mushroom of your machine you should be ok but always think twice about descaling. That's why you should always use the right water to avoid these kind of issues.
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AlphaDeltak (original poster)
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#15: Post by AlphaDeltak (original poster) »

Nunas wrote: The best indication is simply that instead of hard scale in your kettles, dishwasher and so on, you'll have nothing, because sodium ions do not form hard scale.
I was/am suffering from the "Dunning-Kruger" effect; after posting that I did some research for TDS, water softening/filtration and realized that simply checking the TDS with a cheap meter was a poor indication of my water softness. None of our appliances have scale build up and doing the soap test shows my water softener is working. Our area is pretty notorious for hard water, 2022 showed the average water hardness was 268-1284 PPM! If ours wasn't working I think it would be pretty obvious.

Our system is not RO, so I think for now my machine and the water from the tap is probably ok. As much as I love good coffee trying to correctly mix my zero water filter with minerals was way more effort then I bargained for.

Next week I am going to get a water softness kit and just test the hardness to make sure the softener is set correctly. Our tap water and the water coming from the machine taste fine to me.

I appreciate your insight on all of this, to someone so new to the scene it's very overwhelming when you start reading about the minutia.

AlphaDeltak (original poster)
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#16: Post by AlphaDeltak (original poster) »

erik82 wrote:But keep in mind that descaling can do more harm then good if a machine is in a bad condition.
Which is where my brain went, after pulling parts from the group head and seeing the obvious affects from the descaling solution. Why I was so freaked out is it appeared that the solution "corroded" the parts in the group head causing some of the copper/brass to adhere to the group head and other parts. Thought process was well, if my group head looks this way, are my boilers, valves, the other internals just as bad if not worse.

After reading more I realized 1. Like you said, soft water to begin with is the ticket and simply throwing descale in a machine in poor shape is a recipe for disaster. 2. My machine wasn't in that bad of shape. I was truly amazed at pictures of other E61 machines seeing the inside.

I appreciate the feedback and help :)

AlphaDeltak (original poster)
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#17: Post by AlphaDeltak (original poster) »

JRising wrote:Well don't open the boiler and potentially have to change the seals. Just remove the level probe to check if it's got anything on it.
That is a good idea, someone else mentioned another spot to borescope. For now, I think I am going to just leave well enough alone. Googling other machines that get scale buildup I realized my machine was actually in okay condition. I would honestly be surprised to open up anything and see anything of significance.

With that said, next time I due some preventive maintenance I may pull it out and check, just for my own piece of mind.

AlphaDeltak (original poster)
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#18: Post by AlphaDeltak (original poster) »

Thanks all!

What I have come away after everyone's replies it this -

My machine seems to be in good shape.
Good quality water is key.
Descaling can cause more issues then it resolves.

My last question is just this, I don't think the internals had that much build up in all reality. I just have this last concern.

I decreased my pump pressure to around 10.5 - 11.0 BAR, the Lelit has an option to decrease the pressure on the bottom of the unit. After descaling the pump holds an almost dead constant on 10 BAR. Is it possible my descale operation introduced some scale into the gauge? My group head manometer shows 12 BAR if I leave the flow control valve in the fully open position with a blind basket in. Maybe I am just having a moment but if the pump is only producing 10 BAR how can the group head receive 12+ BAR.

Some comments on a similar post are saying one is out of calibration while others are saying Lelit says this is normal due to heat and expansion?

AlphaDeltak (original poster)
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#19: Post by AlphaDeltak (original poster) »

AlphaDeltak wrote: Some comments on a similar post are saying one is out of calibration while others are saying Lelit says this is normal due to heat and expansion?
On a youtube video on a similar question Lelit posted this reply

"Hello, a difference of 1/1,5 Bar between the pump pressure gauge and the coffee group pressure gauge is normal in the Bianca machines.
The pressure gauge placed on the panel, it shows the value of the delivery pressure of the rotary pump before the gicleur. Whereas the pressure gauge on the group, it shows the pressure on the coffee puck, which is also influenced by the expansion that occurs in the coffee boiler. So, during the coffee extraction, I suggest you to consider the pressure of the group pressure gauge."

erik82
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#20: Post by erik82 »

Great to hear that we could help you. When you're new to all of this things can look much worse then they actually are. Espresso machines can last for a very long time with good care.

As for pump pressure I'd set it to 9 bar as more then 9 bar isn't really useable in terms of better espresso.