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Thread: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing???

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    sdg
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    Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing???

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Just did my very first descale with a sachet of cafetto -- flushed water through as per the instructions, but (maybe 4 watertanks later) Im still seeing this very fine sediment coming through. What is this stuff? Should I be worried about it?

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Gday simone,

    Out of interest, how old is the machine and how long since you completed a descale before this one? It may be that there is a reasonable build-up of scale in the boiler if its been a while. Such being the case, it might pay to try another descale session with maybe a slightly longer period with the solution sitting in the Boiler and another good flush-through afterwards.

    If youre using filtered water then this wont count but if not, is there any reason to believe that there may be sediment coming though from your main water supply? If not, a decent water filter would definitely be worth while; either an inline type that you can leave immersed in Silvias water tank; an under sink system feeding a faucet that you source the water from; or a Brita water filter jug with a filter cartridge that you change regularly.

    Hope theres something of use to you there.... :)

    Mal.

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    sdg
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Hi Mal,

    I bought it 2nd hand (from that auction site, Im afraid to confess) in January, but the warranty card says 2005, so 3 years. This is the first time Ive descaled it (I did the full backflush thing beforehand as well). I dont know what the previous owner used to do, he certainly didnt fess up to anything specific :-/ Does Sydney have hard water?

    I let it sit for with the descaler in for 20 mins, and the solution that came out initially was quite a bright green (!) Is that supposed to happen? (no-one else that Ive discovered has ever mentioned it being green??)

    I had been using bottled water in it, but I stopped when I discovered (using my aquarium test kit) that it wasnt any softer than Melbourne tapwater. But now were on the rainwater tank, and I dont remember if we tested that. Theres no visible sediment in the tankwater though.

    Could there really be so much crud in there that its still coming upteen refills later? (I eventually lost count of the number of resevoirs I put thru it)

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    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Hi

    Green is probably a copper salt coming out.
    > I let it sit for with the descaler in for 20 mins, and the solution that came
    > out initially was quite a bright green (!) Is that supposed to happen?
    > (no-one else that Ive discovered has ever mentioned it being green??)

    and also this site mentions it.
    http://www.toomuchcoffee.com/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&t=2780&high light=

    I didnt get a green solution when I descaled my Silvia and I only used a few tankfuls as a flush. Its likely that there is some copper corrosion of the copper or brass of the boiler or the pipes or brass fittings. Basically all you can do is to continue to flush until the effluxing water is clear.

    After that, unplug the machine, make sure its cold, and remove the water tank and then remove the screws from the top and the top metal panel will lift off. Have a look inside for any signs of corrosion. If there is post a pic and probably someone here will be able to advise further.

    Mike


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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Hmmm,

    Some acidic compounds will create copper oxides of various sorts and these will tend to turn the resulting solution green or a greenish-blue but I wouldnt have thought that a commercial descaler would use anything that would actually attack copper? The sediment you are observing could be insoluble copper oxide particles or minute particles of scale that are continuing to be removed by the descaling agent.

    Are you positive that the sachet you are using, states that it is a "Descaling Agent" and not a "Cleaning Agent"? The two are quite different as to their intended purpose....

    Mal.

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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Ohh - what a horrible thought -- nope, says "restore espresso machine descaler": 1 sachet in 1L warm water. Wheew. I did find a reference on CG to brass and copper boilers giving "a green hue to the water after deliming them" -- that was for a Epoca E1, and the writer actually reckoned it was normal! Maybe its just so long since mines been done (for all I know its never been done!) The fine sediments still persisting, BTW.

    I did wonder if I should have let the machine cool down before I did it, but another post said they should be hot :-/

    Anyway, got the top off at the moment; nothing nasty to be seen by my untrained eye except where the steam valve has leaked is now indicated by a blue-green stain (investigating the steam valve is the current project)

    Do you think it would help to do another descale, or should I just keep running water through? Copper-crud-flavoured coffee anyone? :-/

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Gday again Simone....

    Well, I dont think it would hurt to maybe run a couple of Back-Flushing sessions through Silvia, just to make sure that the sediment you can see isnt actually aged coffee detritus. I trust you have some Cafetto "Espresso Clean" handy? If not, its definitely worth your while to grab a 0.5Kg tub from one of our site sponsors (most of them will probably sell it) and then get stuck in. Theres a great guide on the hows and where-fors on Randy Gs site about how to go about this, which can be found here...http://home.surewest.net/frcn/Coffee...Backflush.html

    If you havent already done so, it would probably be worth while to remove the shower-screen and water dispersion disk and physically remove all signs of old coffee oils, etc from inside the Group space and soak the shower-screen and WD disk in a hot solution of Espresso Clean. After all this is done, give everything a real good scrub and a rinse in clean water. If after doing all this you still notice sediment in the water coming from the Group, I guess its possible that it is still coming from the Boiler and may be oxidised copper compounds of some description.

    Such being the case, about all I can recommend is that you continue flushing through the Boiler until sediment is no longer visible. A quick and dirty test for the presence of copper, if you can collect some of this sediment, is to expose it to a hot gas flame and take note of the colour of the flame. If copper compounds are present, the flame will take on a green tinge as the sediment is introduced into the flame. This is really only of academic interest I guess but will at least identify the possible source of the sediment. Dissolved copper test kits can usually be purchased from Aquarium Shops for less than $20 if you you really want to get into it; similar to this:- Copper Test Kit

    Hope some of this is of help to you Simone... :)

    Mal.

    P.S.
    I did wonder if I should have let the machine cool down before I did it, but another post said they should be hot :-/
    Yep, this is correct.... :)

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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Hi Simone,

    I havent read up what the blue/green stuff is all about. I have taken off the steam and hot water taps off my machine and are descaling them (in citric acid). The hot water valve was not too scaled, but the steam valve lots more scale. I noticed that at first the descaling solution turned blue/green for both (which were in separate containers). I put in new descaling soluytion and the hot water tap, which looked pretty clean at that stage no longer produced any colour, while the steam tap which still looked a bit yuck made the solution turn blue/green again. So I think the colour is the yuck desolving.

    Damian.

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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Hi guys, thanks for all your comments and suggestions. I might still have a sediment problem, but at least the anxiety level is decreasing :)

    I have my steam valve all apart at the moment, cant see anything, but this is after yesterdays descaling effort, so maybe theres nothing to see. Damian, what did your scale look like? I tried googling for a pic of this stuff, but no joy yet.

    The green stuff is presumably the result of the acidic descaler dissolving copper oxide. Since in my case this must have come out of my boiler, perhaps the boiler was left dry for a while, so allowing more oxide to form than would normally be the case (just totally guessing now)

    I did do a backflush (and cleaned all the removable bits) with the cafetto espresso clean just before doing the descale -- in fact it was Randy Gs most excellent instructions that I followed! (and for the descaling as well). Except I wasnt sure which order to do each thing in, so guessed it was best to clean first.

    The copper test is a neat idea, if I could collect enough of the sediment. It looks like the finest brown sand. It also just now occurred to me that if I mixed some with some citric acid solution, and it dissolved, then it could be limescale. Well the kitchen already looks like a workshop, why not squeeze in a chemistry lab as well ;D


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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Here is what my rancilio boiler looked like. There is a good pic of the crud in my pavoni boiler here.http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1214012854/0

    On my steam and hot water valves it is just like in my rancilio boiler. matt black. and it is really hard to get off.


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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Ohh, looks nasty. Especially the stuff in the Pavoni! Are you sure that wasnt mud? Or seriously misplaced coffee grounds (just kidding)

    Can I ask why you were peering into your boiler -- was this because just running descaler thru the machine wont work on scale like that?


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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    yeah who knows what is in the pavoni!

    I was in the rancilio boiler as i guess I was curious just to see how bad it was (the machine was in storage for a long time, and I thought it could be bad). As it turned out, I dont think it was bad at all in comparison to some other pics I have seen of boilers.

    Good luck with your machine, and Im sure it will eventually run clean - it cant keep coming out forever!

    Damian.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Scale is bad!


    Java "Bad scale!" phile


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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Hmmm -- looks like wire brush & elbow grease territory to me! Is this the inside of another innocent boiler here? (just to reveal my utter hignorance of espresso machine innards here :-[ )

    Cant believe a tsp of citric acid and bit of hot waters going to defeat *this* sort of stuff!

    Is it actually possible to dismantle a Silvia boiler to have a look? (or is it just a very bad idea ...)

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Quote Originally Posted by simone link=1214913864/0#13 date=1215179339
    Hmmm -- looks like wire brush & elbow grease territory to me! Is this the inside of another innocent boiler here? (just to reveal my utter hignorance of espresso machine innards *here :-[ )

    Cant believe a tsp of citric acid and bit of hot waters going to defeat *this* sort of stuff!

    Is it actually possible to dismantle a Silvia boiler to have a look? (or is it just a very bad idea ...)
    I had a laugh,

    This is the view inside the Boiler of one of Javaphiles La Cimbalis just after he acquired it. Theres a photo progression of the whole exercise somewhere on CS; a few years back though.

    As to disassembling Silvia and gaining access to her Boiler, this is not too hard and if you want to see whats involved, theres a great how-to here for replacing the element but it shows you everything you need to do, and what tools you need, etc..... :)

    Mal.

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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Thanks Mal -- that page is fast becoming a permanent fixture in my browser, though the boiler section looked way too scary at first. But now Ive got the machine open its a lot more obvious what the photos are trying to show. So in theory I could unbolt the boiler, prise it out, turn it upside down (thats the bit that had me flummoxed -- I was looking for a hole in the *top*. No, really. Duh :-[ ) and peer inside.

    This is an excellent plan. Think Ill give the descale & flush (& flush & flush & ...) approach another go first tho ;)

    Searched unsuccessfully for the La Cimbali refurb tale -- any more clues? Im curious to know how you actually clean a badly scaled up boiler (even tho I am rather hoping I dont *need * to know!)

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Quote Originally Posted by simone link=1214913864/0#15 date=1215188211
    Searched unsuccessfully for the La Cimbali refurb tale -- any more clues? Im curious to know how you actually clean a badly scaled up boiler (even tho I am rather hoping I dont *need * to know!)
    Hhhhmmmm.....I cant find it either. All I can come up with is an initial post I made (http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1103091005/1#1) prior to posting the whole thing in a separate thread. Not much there, just a pic of the mostly stripped down frame and the same pic of the inside of the boiler.

    As to how the boiler was descaled. I first removed all the loose and flaking scale with a plastic paint scrapper. Then I soaked it hot water and acid. Lots and lots of acid! Many soaks and days later it was all shiny clean. :)


    Java "Gotta love robust equipment!" phile

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    Re: Descaling Silvia -- when can I stop flushing??

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Sounds almost worth doing just to see the nice shiny result ;)

    Funnily enough, as my SO was helping me put the steam valve back into Silvia (ok, ok, he was putting the valve in, I was supervising ::) ) he grumbled something along the lines of "I hope youre not thinking of doing anything to that" (looking at the boiler). No no, not at all. Whatever makes you think that?? [smiley=evil.gif]



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