La Marzocco GS3 Steam Sputtering?

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.

#1: Post by Zachary »

I feel like this isn't working like it should...steam is kind of spluttering? Machine is 4-5 years old and has never been serviced.

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#2: Post by HB »

The steam looks a little wet, but not bad. It may be scale buildup on the water level sensor has led to a higher water level, which increases the steam wetness. If you scan the Repairs forum, you'll find scale buildup is behind a lot of espresso machine problems. It's best to just avoid it by treating the water for hardness, or if it's not too hard, planning for "preventative descaling" as required.
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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

I'll mention this as the OP states, "Machine is 4-5 years old and has never been serviced."

I had a similar very mild sputtering with a new-to-me machine this past weekend. The steam from the machine was good, but the steam was nowhere near the quality of steam that I expected given the machine's reputation. Once I removed the tip from the wand, I discovered a buildup of crud (not scale) inside the tip - although not enough buildup to block a hole. It looked like the steam tip had not been cleaned in quite a while.

Once the tip was removed, I soaked the tip in hot water and Cafiza for about five eight-minute cycles on an ultrasonic cleaner. In between cycles, there was a bit of scraping with a brass brush and a wooden chopstick. That was enough to get the tip all cleaned up and the steaming ability back up to what I expect. (The ultrasonic cleaner makes cleaning faster and easier.)
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

Zachary (original poster)

#4: Post by Zachary (original poster) »

Sounds good, I'll check the tip out.

Regarding the scale, the water we have here doesn't need to be treated for hardness, it's naturally very soft but perhaps if never serviced over 5 years some scale could build up?

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#5: Post by Peppersass »

If your GS/3 has copper tubes in the steam path, copper oxide crud can build up in the steam tip. All you have to do is remove the steam tip and clean it. Soaking in distilled vinegar might work on its own, or you may need to push the crud out of the holes with a needle or toothpick. The crud can also foul the steam valve, but servicing that is a bit more involved.

A few years ago LM replaced the copper tubes with plated tubes, no doubt to eliminate the problem. The replacement tubes aren't terribly expensive and are relatively easy to install.

I use a Foam Knife steam tip with a quite small opening, and used to have to clean the crud out of the tip on a regular basis. When I replaced my steam valve with a Specht Design lever-operated valve, it came with the new plated pipes. I haven't had to clean the steam tip since.