Would it be a bad idea to take apart and descale the boiler of my ECM Classika PID?

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#1: Post by Fecso »

Hi Guys!

I have an ECM Classika PID, and sadly the lower thermosyphon pipe got blocked by limescale, and my friend from a service suggested me that I should take apart the boiler, and give it some limescaling with sulfamic acid, because if the scale is in the thermosyphon tube, other inner components may have limescale on them too.

Is this a good idea? Can my machine be damaged during the procedure?

I'd appreciate your help and opinions!

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Team HB
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#2: Post by Jeff »

There are two major risks with descaling typical machines:
- Dislodged chunks or flakes of scale clogging something
- Aggressive acids damaging metal

I have always descaled machines that were operational in place, without disassembling. If the machine has a boiler drain, it is even easier. Otherwise you can often siphon off the descaling solution through the hole the vacuum breaker mounts into, or similar. Disassembling a machine can definitely result in leaks and potentially damage.

I prefer less aggressive acids, such as low-strength solutions of citric or acetic acid (vinegar).

I would also look into "non-scaling" water if you're getting more than a trivial build-up of scale in a couple of years of use. I understand drinkable distilled water to use as a base is not common in Europe. There have been some threads that discussed options.

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BaristaBoy E61
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#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I basically agree with Jeff. However, what I would do and suggest if you're up to the challenge, would be a complete machine descaling with citric acid delivered through the reservoir tank, perhaps several rounds of it and deal with the fallout of dislodged scale should that occur.

That would be the safest, easiest route should all go well. I would take my chances, after having been down that route when they have both gone well and when they have not.

Non-scaling water thereafter- is a must!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

Fecso (original poster)
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#4: Post by Fecso (original poster) »

Thanks for the answer!

The guys at the service told me there are risks if I only descale it from the water tank, eg. the acid is kinda hard to get out, I can only dilute it till it disappears, secondly clogs could float and damage other parts of the machine, thirdly, I won't be able to see how severe is the calcification, is the heating element even usable.

That's why they suggested me to take apart the boiler, and descale the individual parts with sulfamic acid (I hope this won't damage anything, but they said it won't).

If I take apart the boiler I'll definitely do it with my father, he is a technician, mechanic and electromechanical engineer, so he is the kinda man who can fix literally everything.

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#5: Post by espresso-stress-o »

I recently took out and split the boiler in a la Pavoni domus bar. The thread is here somewhere and your machine looks about the same level of complexity. I found it quite easy to do barring a couple of awkward bolts, so I would say perfectly doable.
My main advice would be photo and label all wires to ensure they are easy to refit correctly.
I split the boiler then used a dremel and light sander bit to smooth and improve the boiler join faces and fitted a new seal. It was a great chance to de scale too. And satisfying because you can check all parts and know the state of affairs.
I would also comment that if you intend to descale without removing the boiler then something like citric acid is generally food grade so not toxic and you just keep washing it through. So any slight residue will be of no consequence. Bear in mind that citric acid is quite sticky at low temps too so you need to flush wel at operating temp.
Best would be to remove and tackle it in my opinion. I recently tried to descale an instant tap boiler unit and citric acid and acetic just would not dissolve stubborn deposits - in this case I used a 4mm drill bit to cut it away. Point I am making is if you have the ability and help to do this properly then it is worth it.

Here is my post on the boiler split Pavoni Domus Bar DED boiler removal and seal replacement ADVICE REQUIRED