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Thread: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

  1. #1
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    Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all, as a new Silvia owner, Im just wondering what sort of maintenance is required to keep the machine in good shape. The manual doesnt say too much. Ive read a bit about backflushing etc, but it seems its not recommended by Rancilio. Im really not sure what to do. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Also, would anyone recommend the cleaning kits on www.coffeeparts.com?

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    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    I think the $30 kit is OK, but Im not really sure you need the professional grinder brush or the espresso cleaner. A $2 pastry brush looks just the same and does the same job. The espresso cleaner is effective, but I think dishwashing powder is pretty similar and a lot cheaper. I did buy some of the espresso cleaner.

    Im all in favour of the blind filter and the group head brush. The Pallo coffee tool for $30 might be a better toy. A pastry brush and a small paint brush(like for arts and crafts) for the grinder is cheap and easy to get anywhere.

    The blind filter is $5.75, the standard group brush is $7.50

    I dont do a chemical backflush very often. Only done it twice in fact.
    I do a water backflush weekly. I also take the shower screen off and clean it and the group. A Short flathead screwdriver is required for this.

    I soak the portafilter and baskets in a solution of espresso cleaner/water. It works very well, but as I said, seems pricey for what you get.

    As for the gasket sets, pickers etc. I have not had any need for a gasket replacement as yet. I have a spare set, but from what I have read, it can be a pesky task. I doubt that you will need to worry about gaskets for a while.

    As for daily/routine stuff, wipe the wand and purge after doing milk (non-abrasive cloth). Send water through the group pre and post shot making. Wipe down and empty drip tray as required.

    Hope that is useful.

    Brett.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Hi,

    I think the Espresso Clean (this one - 500 grams for $12.50... http://www.coffeeparts.com/accessories/cleaner.html) is very similar to all the so-called "Oxy" cleaners that abound on the supermarket shelves these days. Youd have to take note of the actual chemical components being used to ensure they are the same and that they are safe to use with various metals and especially copper based alloys.

    That being said, I bought a 500 gram container of the Espresso Clean above from CoffeeParts about 18 months ago and to this day, I would imagine that I have about 450 grams still to go. You only need to use a very small amount with each cleaning session.... either back-flushing or soaking the PF, etc.... as a little goes a looooong way as they say,

    Mal.

    P.S.
    A very important consideration to keep in mind, is to make sure you use filtered water in your Silvia..... either via one of the Brita type Filter Jugs or a line filter of suitable specification that does the same or better. This will not only remove noxious gasses and other detrimental compounds, but also reduce the rate of build-up of scale on the interior of the Boiler, the Element and the Steam Valve circuit.

    You would then only need to descale the Silvia about once or twice per year to keep the innards all bright and shiny ;D

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    All good advice from Fatboy and Mal.

    I dont know about the need to descale if Brita filtered water is used. Brita says calcium and lime deposits which cause scale are removed.

    The Rancilia instruction book must have been written by the same guy in China who writes electronics manuals. Fractured English and pretty much next to useless, too.

    Backflushing: everytime you pull a coffee you are subjecting machines with three-way valves to a form of backflushing. The build up of pressure opens the valve and excess pressure, together with coffee, is flushed into the drip tray.

    So backflushing with clean water should do no harm, one would imagine. You only have to open the brew switch momentarily.

    Using a socket for the showerscreen bolt makes it much easier to remove. Screwdrivers, especially ones held upside down, tend to slide off and with carelessness can damage the mesh.

    Pay particular attention to the gasket. Grounds are attracted to it like a magnet. If they are not cleaned off very regularly, like daily, it becomes impregnated with them. Instead of rubber sealing the portafilter, you then have hardened grounds.

    Use a wet chux type wipe, working it into the gasket grove.

    After pulling coffees, flush the shower screen before the grounds harden. On my previous machine I neglected to clean the shower screen t the point where it became clogged and would not allow water through. It was a good lesson to learn.

    Robusto

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Brett, Mal and Robusto,

    Thank you very much for your helpful replies. It looks like I will be getting one of those cleaning kits from coffeeparts.

    I use Brita filtered water from day one so hopefully that will have minimised any scaling.

    May I ask, with chemical backflushing, do I do that using the espresso cleaner? And how will I know when its safe to drink again?

    Robusto, do you mean by the socket for the showerscreen, a hexagonal bolt?

    One more question if I may, I am finding a few grinds in my coffee cup after drinking, does this mean I am grinding too finely?

    Thanks all.

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    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Chemical backflush is a small amount of cleaner and water in the blind filter, lock in place, do your very short pulses with the brew switch and you will see sudsy water coming out the return int the drip tray.

    You do this a few times, remove and rinse the portafilter and the drip tray, the do the short pulses again with just water until no trace of suds come through the return. then you do it a little bit more to be sure, then you purge water through the group and then you can loosely fit the portafilter in whilst running water through (being careful not to splash hot water everywhere) and this should also clean any residue around the shower screen/gasket area.

    As for the coffee grinds, could be too fine, could be too much coffee in the basket, could be in need of a clean, could be nothing to worry about if there are not that many.

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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Grinds....
    I find the only way to get rid of them (ish) is to do the blind wiggle between each shot or two.. and to clean the screen as often as poss.
    Otherwise I just put up with em!

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    JR
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Grinds....
    The wiggle after each shot or so works for me also, along with a general wipe of the group area.

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    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Hi all
    I have also got my Silvia two months ago and saw the coffeeparts.com kit mentioned here. Its easier to get this than fart around getting the bits separately over time. I see they have the "Essential cleaning kit - JB-980" and the "Essential cleaning kit (Organic)- JB-981" at http://www.coffeeparts.com/accessories/
    Whats really the difference with the chemicals used between the Espresso Clean and EVO Organic Clean? Does anyone have some so they can post here the ingredients from reading the container?
    Mike

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by bloop link=1134561592/0#4 date=1134652452
    Robusto, do you mean by the socket for the showerscreen, a hexagonal bolt?

    One more question if I may, I am finding a few grinds in my coffee cup after drinking, does this mean I am grinding too finely?

    Thanks all.
    The shower screen is held on by a bolt with a hexagonal head and screwdriver slot. *Use a socket wrench to remove it. Sockets dont slide off, screwdrivers do.

    Grounds in the cup are usually leftovers from the previous brewing session. *Cleaning after every session will eliminate them. *The blind filter wiggles, as mentioned, will do it, so will a wet cloth. Its a good practice to flush the shower screen while the water is still hot, before the grounds solidify.

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1134561592/0#9 date=1134707683
    The shower screen is held on by a bolt with a hexagonal head and screwdriver slot. Use a socket wrench to remove it. Sockets dont slide off, screwdrivers do.
    The shower screen bolt on my silvia is round . . .

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy link=1134561592/0#5 date=1134653118
    Chemical backflush is a small amount of cleaner and water in the blind filter, lock in place, do your very short pulses with the brew switch and you will see sudsy water coming out the return int the drip tray.

    Heres a good "How To:" on Back-Flushing here..... http://tinyurl.com/d9qaz, and for that matter lots of other really useful information for the would be barista and home equipment maintainer ;)

    Mal.

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    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robster link=1134561592/0#10 date=1134734507
    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1134561592/0#9 date=1134707683
    The shower screen is held on by a bolt with a hexagonal head and screwdriver slot. *Use a socket wrench to remove it. Sockets dont slide off, screwdrivers do.
    The shower screen bolt on my silvia is round . . .
    Mine too!

  14. #14
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Sounds like Silvia owners can be divided into the roundheads and the hex heads.

    Apologies to the rounds---your only option is a screwdriver.
    Good luck.

    Robusto

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by LongMatt link=1134561592/0#6 date=1134692651
    Grinds....
    I find the only way to get rid of them (ish) is to do the blind wiggle between each shot or two.. and to clean the screen as often as poss.
    Otherwise I just put up with em!
    Hmm is a blind wiggle, wiggling the basket without any coffee in it?

    Thanks for the backflushing link Mal. Can I ask what will happen if I dont backflush the machine?

    I have a hexagonal head too, guess Im one of the lucky ones.

  16. #16
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Bloop, the "blind wiggle" is..... put a blind basket (a purpose built one without any holes) in the portafilter, but do not lock onto the group. Turn on the brew switch, and sort of wiggle the portafilter about so water will be forced up into the gasket area and flush away grinds. More effective when water is very hot.

    If you dont backflush, theres a danger grinds and coffee oils will build up and clog the 3-way-valve.

    Congratulations on the hexagonal head.

    Robusto


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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Quote Originally Posted by bloop link=1134561592/0#14 date=1134913876
    Hmm is a blind wiggle, wiggling the basket without any coffee in it?

    Thanks for the backflushing link Mal. Can I ask what will happen if I dont backflush the machine?

    I have a hexagonal head too, guess Im one of the lucky ones.
    Hi bloop,

    As Robusto has pointed out, failing to "back-flush" regularly can lead to the 3-Way Valve malfunctioning due to the build-up of coffee oils and particles. This is really a side-issue though as the main reason for back-flushing is to rid the group assembly of this build-up which starts to go rancid very quickly and will seriously degrade the character and quality of every shot you pull through the machine..... this gets worse the longer you delay back-flushing and is usually noticeable well before the 3-Way Valve starts to act up.

    I cant remember just exactly what Randy G. recommends in his Back-flushing Tutorial, but for most home based baristas, it is sufficient to back-flush with plain water every 2-3 days and then every few weeks, back-flush with a proprietary espresso cleaning agent such as Espresso Clean. This is all Ive been doing for ages and after inspecting the Group the first few times to make sure the job was being done, this is the routine Ive stuck to. Just to put this in to perspective, we consume between 20-30 espresso based drinks per week but if your consumption was significantly more than this, you may have to flush out with Espresso Clean slightly more often.... every two weeks say?

    In a commercial situation where baristas are pulling several hundred to maybe a thousand shots per day, back-flushing with a proprietary cleaner is an absolute necessity. Hope this helps,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Just a little update... I bought the espresso cleaning kit from coffeeparts, and thanks to all your valuable advice, I did my first backflush. I used a whole scoop of that espresso cleaner in the blind basket, OOPS! :-? too much me thinks. It took a while to clear it of all the cleaner and suds.

    The coffees are sure tasting better, thanks to the clean and the LM basket I also picked up from coffeeparts.

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Hi bloop,

    A quarter of that litle scoop is plenty, even in a commercial situation. Disolve most of it by swishing it around in the blind filter with some water before locking it into the group.

    Hope that helps.

    Luke

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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Further to this thread.. I went to my Silvia retailer and asked about which chemical I can use to clean out my machine.. He said whole heartedly "do not put any chemical through the machine, it will effect the taste of the espresso". I suppose he has a good point..

    My problem is that I havent been using filtered/distilled water and Id like to give it a good cleaning before I start.

    Can anyone give me some advise on whether or not to use chemical to clean out my Silvia and what type??

    Thanks
    Paulie

    :-?

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Citric acid works well as a descaler. The coffee machine detergents dont leave any taste if you flush them out well. If you dont clean your machine, that means more money for them servicing it.

    If your machine has a removable reservoir, be sure to clean that out often, as standing water has the tendency to go a bit feral. Sewerage off-tastes are not what youre looking for in that cuppa.

    And get yourself a filter jug, it works wonders.

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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    So nunu.. by "citric acid" you mean say lemon juice or similar yeh?

    And.. do I dilute it with water or just smash it through full blown?? :-/

    Thanks
    Paulie

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    The same citric acid thats found in the baking section of supermarkets. McKenzie brand iirc. About a heaped tablespoon in a full reservoir of water should do the trick. Just run it until the reservoirs nearly empty, then flush with another 2-3 reservoirs worth.

  24. #24
    TC
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    McKenzies produce citric acid and coles supermarkets sell it. Look in the spice section. Its packaged in a cardboard cylinder...

    Chris

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia maintenance? *Please advise.

    Citric acid is recommended for descaling...but Im not sure about removing ingrained coffee stains from equipment. Vinegar has often been mentioned as a cleaner...which is is...but again, fairly useless on coffee-stained equipment.

    But if anyone has a sure-fire non-corrosive cleaner which will turn brown portafilters back to sparkling chrome....and doesnt cost $5 a pop, please let us know.

    Robusto

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Hey Robusto,

    Any of the espresso machine cleaners (ie backflushing chemicals) should do the job quite nicely and only cost a few cents per use. :)

    Java "Keep the chrome clean" phile

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    Re: Silvia maintenance?  Please advise.

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    "Coffee stains" on the portafilter are just a buildup of coffee oils. You could use regular dishwashing detergent and a sponge to clean the portafilter.



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