Posted Tue Feb 19, 2013, 9:42pm Subject: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
Just to get it out of the way, I descale with dezcal on a monthly basis. And my apologies for making this as long as it is.
I opened up my rocket today and noticed what looked like scale leaking from the nut that connects the steamwand from the outside to the pipe on the inside. Literally, just tons of green shmutz along the inner wall in streaks beneath that nut. My guess was that maybe there was a small leak in there and over 2 years, enough water has leaked out and left behind scale.
After mustering up some courage, I unscrewed the pipe between the steam wand and boiler and let all the parts soak in dezcal along with the steam wand parts (threw in the vacuum valve and water probe in there too while I was at it). Was my first time getting to physically see scale dissolve within an hour or two. With everything nice and clean, I put Teflon tape on the threads and reassembled everything.
On a side note, I filled the boiler to the very top with water and siphoned it out into a measuring cup out of curiosity, apparently the boiler holds only 800ml of water, and not 1.8 liters like I thought, which must mean it normally holds 17-18oz of water at 2/3 full. Anyways, turned my machine on, boiler didn't explode and kill me like I thought it would, and the steam performance has improved a little (not that I had bad performance before).
So my question is, how the heck do I include that pipe and steam wand in my descaling regime? I know water gets in there, otherwise the vacuum breaker wouldn't spit water as it gets up to temp. The pipe itself connects above the boiler to a piece that the vacuum breaker screws into, and it doesn't seem that tilting the machine in any direction makes it possible for solution to get into that pipe due to it's high position.
Been thinking that maybe there is a way to suck solution up the steam arm somehow, though I'm not really sure how I'd pull this off.
Another idea I had, that I hadn't tested, was overfilling the boiler through the vacuum breaker's opening with the steam wand open, in theory, since the steam pipe is all of a centimeter below the top opening, once the boiler is full and the water would be overfilling, I think it may enter the pipe and drain out the steam wand before it can spill out over the top.
Any tips or established methods that don't involve disassembling the pipe?
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 2:45pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
it can be a bit difficult and can be a mess. You disconnect the water level sensor wire, open the steam wand valve, and turn the machine on and allow it to run until descaler comes out the steam and. For this, it is best to use a tie wrap to hold the vacuum breaker valve up so the descaler does not squirt out of it. It is also important to not allow the machine to run if you close the steam valve. If so, the pressure safety valve will open and spray descaler all over the inside of the machine, and that can corrode electrical connections and such. Allow it to soak, then drain teh boiler either by the siphon method, or by opening both valves and applying low pressure air to the steam wand to force the descaler out the hot water wand (again, keeping the vacuum breaker valves closed).
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 5:14pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
Interesting, though sounds painful as well since it would involve removing and re-installing several parts on the boiler multiple times if I factor in having to flush regular water through the steam pipe to get any residue out. Perhaps it's would be wiser to just to not worry about the steam pipe, and just disassemble and soak if I feel like it's needed, which could be maybe once a year or two.
Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:41pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
Well, I'm testing the method right now, filled the boiler with solution re installed the vacuum breaker with some string to hold the pin up, unplugged the water sensor, and with both the steam wand AND water tap open, flicked the machine on and it works! Pump kicks in, boiler is already full and solution comes out both the steam and hot water tap.
After I give it the remaining 2 hours to soak, I'll try flushing normal water through this way as well (turning the machine on and off so the pump isn't continuously running for too long, though I suppose it shouldn't matter with a rotary pump). I'm hoping that the regular water coming in will flushes out solution/water through the steam and tap, and since the boiler is full, it should eventually dilute/flush out the solution completely without having to siphon in/out a few times to get any residue that would normally be above the water probe level. Though I still have to reopen the boiler and siphon the water out one last time anyways so I can reconnect the probe and let the machine function normally.
If it all works, it I think it should be more streamlined next time if I simply disconnect the inlet hose and have it suck the solution in through the pump with the probe disconnected, once the boiler is full it'll start flushing solution through the steam/tap to get it in there. I'd only have to open the boiler one time at the end to siphon out water which would be great.
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 1:56pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
It works, I just hold the pin up by hand on the vacuum breaker and as long as either only either the steam or water tap opens, it holds itself up once water starts coming out. With both open, there isn't enough pressure in the boiler.
Only problem now is I have tons of microscopic sized flakes of metal coming from the boiler from both the tap and steam wand (tiny little specs of glitter that, when poured into a white glass, can be seen sinking to the bottom as well as glittering the surface of the water). Flushed over 15lbs of water through the boiler cold with the machine overfilled which eventually reduced to satisfaction, but once everything was reconnected and running back up to temp, I'm seeing tons more. Been flushing the machine hot all morning but that stuff is stubborn.
Oh well, it'll all flush out sooner or later. In the meantime, what doesn't kill me will only bring me one step closer.
SStones Senior Member Joined: 24 Nov 2012 Posts: 361 Location: Canada Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket... Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best Vac Pot: No :( Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Sun Feb 24, 2013, 7:38pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
I unscrewed the pipe between the steam wand and boiler and let all the parts soak in dezcal along with the steam wand parts (threw in the vacuum valve and water probe in there too while I was at it). Was my first time getting to physically see scale dissolve within an hour or two. With everything nice and clean, I put Teflon tape on the threads and reassembled everything.
I don't mean to criticize you when you're doing a good job of getting familiar with your machine, but I am certain that the pipe from boiler to steamvalve in a Cellini is copper tubing with compression fittings at each end. Was there teflon tape on the threads when you opened it? A compression fitting like that seals because the pipe and fitting are finished at different angles and pressed together. The brass faces form the seal and the threads are just there to hold the hardware together, teflon tape is only going to change the friction and feel of tightening the connector and shouldn't be used. If it isn't leaking, I say leave it as is, and certainly if there was teflon tape on it before, than I'm wrong about your machine and you should ignore me. This is more of a point to make to others reading this, I suppose. And anyway, good job doing your descaling. I might also suggest filling the boiler with a funnel through the removed breather valve while watching the level through the removed level-probe hole. Time consuming, yes. Beats a complete removal, descaling and reinstall of the boiler.
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 3:19pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
There was no teflon on the threads to begin with, however, when I had called SCG's tech, they told me my problem should go away if I cool the machine and put some teflon on those threads (I'm not sure if it's compression fittings or not, from what I remember it just looked like a tube with two loose nuts on either end, with the tips slightly bulged preventing them from being removed. Either way, it's still working and I have since increased my pressure stat to top at 1.4 bars. If something goes wrong later down the road, I'll definitely follow up here :)
Posted Fri Mar 8, 2013, 2:11pm Subject: Re: Any tricks to descaling descaling the steam wand & pipe to boiler?
Never thought to consider a pipe cleaner, though it would need to be a little more than twice the length of the steam arm if it was to reach everything, assuming its flexible enough to make it through multiple 90 degree angles along the way. Though I suppose that would also depend on whether the point where the steam arm opens/closes would allow something like that to fit through.
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