I just dug the ol' expresso machine out of the back of the cabinet after
a couple of years since it's been used; dusted it off, filled it with
water and tried to use it. The heater works, the pump works, but no
water comes out. t's plugged up with scale somewhere.
I put a pint of water and a 1/2 tsp of citric acid in it and let it sit
for a while and tried it again. No joy. I took the screen off and it
was clear. I notices a stainless steel bolt (looks like a big
carburator jet) in the middle under the screen. I unscrwed it with a
13mm wrench and it is obviously plugged up. I turned on the pump with
this jet removed and it works.
I have the jet (online parts store calls it a boiler valve) soaking in
some vinegar, but I don't know if that'll do it. The valve looks like
it would come apart with two 13mm wrenches.
Is this something that will clean out OK if I just give it time in the
vinegar (or citric acid)? Will I ruin it if I take it apart? Will I
ruin it if I use something stronger, like hydrochloric acid (diluted
50%)? I also have phosphoric acid, which is safer for stainless steel,
but I dunno if it will remove calcium scale.
Worst case is I have to buy a new valve for $20 plus shipping.
I think that's the check valve aka 3-way valve, and you will most likely
have to carefully take it apart. There's a ball and spring arrangement
inside so be careful and take note how its arranged. Clean the orifice
and then reassemble. Unless you take it apart, the cleaning solution
will take a really long time to get that orifice clean since its blocked
on one side by the ball and spring.
HTH - Love my Gaggia
Thanks. I did take it apart; I felt the spring in there as I was
loosening it, so I was careful not to let it fly apart. I had used a
needle to poke the hole that was completely blocked before I took it
apart when I was trying to just soak it clean.
I soaked the taken-apart valve in vinegar for a while, then used a Q-tip
with some phosphoric acid to clean the inside where the check ball
seats. Rinsed it, put it back together, and ran some fresh water thru
It's working just fine now. :-) It's kind of odd that the holes don't
line up between the 2 halves of the valve and the water has to travel a
little ways through the screw threads. The water doesn't seem to mind.
: Is this something that will clean out OK if I just give it time in the
: vinegar (or citric acid)? Will I ruin it if I take it apart? Will I
: ruin it if I use something stronger, like hydrochloric acid (diluted
: 50%)? I also have phosphoric acid, which is safer for stainless steel,
: but I dunno if it will remove calcium scale.
: Worst case is I have to buy a new valve for $20 plus shipping.
: Wha'd'ya think?
Each of the different Espresso Brand makers sells "Descaling Liquid". They all
stress NOT to use acids.
This is for, of course, after you have got it clean from the blockage as it has
You should be able to go on line to Gaggia to find a manual for your machine and
it will describe the routine descaling operation.
The modern electronic ones signal that you have to do a descale after 'x' number
If you use only deionised water to fill the machine you will not need to descale
in the future.
My favorite cleaner for this type of things is a mixture of baking soda
and vinegar. The combination of the two, fizzes and bubbles things
fairly clean. It's totally harmless.
The combination also is good to pour down your drain once a week. And
if you put it in a coffee canister, and swish it around a bit, rinsing
afterwards with clear water, your cannister will appear brand new. .
.no cloudy glass!
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