cleaning out espresso coffee machine

I have a solenoid type espresso machine which seems to be completely blocked up
I can hear the pump pumping and water comes out of the wand so the pump is clearly working but nothing comes out of the head. I have checked the solenoid and the last chance for this expensive machine is cleaning out coffee or limescale in the system. I took the head screen above the basket out and it is completely blocked as are the various holes in the piece above the screen. When I stuck some pins in the channels I did manage to get some drips out of the head. But there is no real relationship between the pumping and the drips.
What I was wondering was which cleaners will burn through all this crud. To me the citrus ones all seem to be the same, none seem to be of any greater strength than others and I am not sure whether they are designed to dissolve the coffee or clean out limescale in the boiler. Whenever i have tried them in the past I have always found undissolved crud under the screen after use and what has come through has never seemed particularly dirty to me??
Lastly is there a balance to be drawn between trying to push cleaner through clogged pipes and pumping so much that there is a risk of blowing the pipes/pump/electrics?
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I have had good results using distilled vinegar.... basically acetic acid.
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but was the unit completely blocked as mine is? 'cos I am obviously willing to try it, but it has never really cleaned out much for me in the past when I have used it when I didnt have any of the citrus stuff?
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wrote:

but was the unit completely blocked as mine is? 'cos I am obviously willing to try it, but it has never really cleaned out much for me in the past when I have used it when I didnt have any of the citrus stuff?
The suggested white vinegar is a very weak acid. You can also use it to soak kitchen parts that have alkaline buildup, or spray and let it set on faucets and such. Maybe your problem was using the "citrus stuff" in the first place, and you've eaten your lines out already. Do you know what was said in the directions? That always comes in handy in these situations.
Steve
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OK but what I am now wondering is how I can get the acid/citrus through to the bit where it is blocked (which appears to be somewhere above the head) if there is no flow
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I would run a wire like a pipe cleaner through, a pipe you smoke any place that sells cigars has them. if you cant get it can you take it apart to soak it in vinegar and use compressed air. The stronger acids eat metal faster so be carefull, even vinegar will mess up some metals.
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myfathersson wrote: ...

You can try CLR or a similar product.
The reason it doesn't look dirty if it does work is that it redissolves the lime in solution so it is no longer a solid. It's those same soluble salts are deposited as scale by the heating process that turned them into the solids.
You can try several soaks; if it's heavily scaled as noted it will undoubtedly take quite some time to see real results.
--
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On 12/24/2010 10:20 AM, myfathersson wrote:

steam pipe, the one with the rubber snout for steaming milk, didn't work. I pushed a thin wire up the hole. It popped open. Be careful if there is a full head of steam in the unit. I used it last night and it was quite ok, but the unit had a musty smell. So, this morning I ran vinegar through it, followed by 2 full water rinses.
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Post this in alt.coffee. There's many "experts" there and even a couple certified espresso machine techs.
nb
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