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Thread: DIY descaling on HX machine

  1. #1
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    DIY descaling on HX machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi

    I am planning to buy a HX machine like Rocket Giotto but I have decided to put that on hold after being advised that descaling is not something I can safely attempt at home and if I opt to do so it can/may void the warranty.

    That would certainly mean increasing the "cost of ownership" when descaling has to be carried out by a professional technician ~ every two months. That could range from $70 to $100 per descaling session?

    Has anyone tried DIY descaling on a HX? What is the ease level?

    Advice sought.

    Starbugs

  2. #2
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Sounds like you have been well advised on the one hand (do not descale hx machines), but ill advised on the other.

    Check here, its a fresh topic:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1248271598

    Good commentary there.


  3. #3
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Firstly, unless ur slaving your machine daily with unfiltered water you do not need to descale every 2 months.

    Depending on the quality of water, usage etc, a domestic HX only needs to be descaled every 6-12 months.

    For a brand new machine, I wouldnt descale until its at least a year old. By that time your warranty is over and you can do whatever you want :D

    Its not very difficult to descale a HX. Plenty of material out there to teach you how to do it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    HX machines have 2 water paths: 1 through the boiler for steam and boiling water and heating the HX, and 2 through the HX itself.

    According to what Ive read (caution--academic knowledge only) descaling the HX needs to be done more often than the boiler. It is also very easy to do. Descaling the boiler is more complex, but should be OK if you are reasonably handy.

    If you rarely or never take hot water from the boiler, then it is easy to keep it filled with soft water and avoid the more complex task for years.

    Greg

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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Quote Originally Posted by 605542407048554A464B43270 link=1248865393/3#3 date=1249040576
    If you rarely or never take hot water from the boiler, then it is easy to keep it filled with soft water and avoid the more complex task for years.

    I personally wouldnt do that. Everytime you use your machine, water is displaced by steam and the boiler gets filled with your regular water. Overtime boiler will just be filled with not so soft water and if you dont descale for years....god knows what will happen

  6. #6
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Sorry Gavin, I was trying to be simple and it may have ended up too simple.

    IMO the water in the boiler needs to be freshened on a regular basis by draining some water through the hot water tap. I suggest taking the intake tube and submerging it in a container of soft water when you do this--say weekly or bi-weekly, depending on usage. This will re-charge the boiler with fresh soft water and keep the overall mineral level down, despite the slow refill from the harder water in the tank.

    This allows the best of both worlds--soft water with little scale formation in the boiler, and harder water through the HX for best coffee taste.

    If this regime is followed the HX will need de-scaling long before the boiler, however running some de-scaler through the HX is a straight-forward job.

    Both of these de-scales must be separated from a detergent flush, which cleans the group head of coffee oil and residue.

    A complete analysis of this and other techniques is available in Jim Schulmans "Insanely long water FAQ" at big-rick.com

    Greg

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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Thanks Gavin1 and Greg for the helpful tips and explanations.

    I suppose regularly recharging the boiler with fresh soft water sounds like a good idea even after the normal HX descaling since the boiler could have potentially drawn in some descaler during the process. Wouldnt like to imagine dispensing hot water for tea mixed with descaler *:-X

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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    to descale or not to descale the boiler?


    i posted this picture in another thread about (cleaning agents descaling)
    this is from a HX 1 grp comercial machine made in 1995 that i purchased last week, no guess to part of the problem why it was considered "not - operating". it had completely blocked this pipe to the glass water level tube on both the boiler and pipe and has effected the hot water tap that need to be further investigated.
    who knows what else is going on inside......

    now i have NFI about scale and how long it takes to build up, i dont know the machines history. I think from a few other issues it has it has not been serviced regularly or imo serviced very well, supposedly work has been carried out by a qualified technician.

    on Friday i decided to de-sacle the boiler (1st of a few descales sessions i think it will need). the machine does not have a drain like many commercials but it does have a manual fill valve, so it made it a little harder IMO.

    all the work was done on the kitchen sink as i live in an apartment right now

    What i did was to remove the antivac insert a funnel, pour in some "clean machine" and heat it up a bit, not boiling just HOT. i then just removed the same pipe in the picture and drained the boiler (7L) it had removed some (2/3rds maybe) of the shown scale but not all.
    I then put the pipe back on, refilled with fresh till it ran out the antivac hole (totaly filled) and heated again then drained again the same way.
    i then attached a water hose to the antivac hole and filled and flushed a while. Put it back together and continued testing.

    The HX system is next to be done, i can only assume there is plenty of scale in there too, i need to find a tank as i have it plumbed in.

    all up about 2 hours work including heating time
    not included is removeing all the outsides of the machine
    cost $20 for "clean machine" for 3 ish *descales i reckon
    $5 for fitting so in can fit a hose to the antivac, but not really required.

    now i consider myself capable of DIY things, i have plenty of tools and like working on things. BUT i did have to move the "computer board" out of the way and undo wiring to allow better access for spanners etc. so i guess starbugs if your going to DIY it you need to be comfortable in using the tools and have them at hand and maybe movig other things out of the way.

    I might be more reluctant if it had cost me 2k+ but *:-?. Still its not that hard. The machines are quite simple when you look at it, just pipes and wires.

    Leeham


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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Quote Originally Posted by 0C2D26213B0205480 link=1248865393/1#1 date=1248866002
    Sounds like you have been well advised on the one hand (do not descale hx machines), but ill advised on the other.

    Check here, its a fresh topic:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1248271598

    Good commentary there.
    Ok Ill bite. Why shouldnt you descale an HX machine. Particularly if start pretty new (before big chunks of scale form) so scale breaking of and blocking a pipe would be unlikely. I could only see a problem if you are lax with your descaling and leave it for quite some time (dependent on water) and chunks block small crevices.
    Or have I completely missed the point? :-?

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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    GregWormald mentioned elsewhere in the forum (http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1245022812) where he used pure filtered rainwater for the boiler and he never had to descale his machine in 25 years. Thats a novel idea.

    Greg, care to share how you filter the rain water through a .5 micron carbon filter. Is it a portable unit and where can I buy one?

  11. #11
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Quote Originally Posted by 735F4C4A575F5261735150555B473E0 link=1248865393/8#8 date=1249124750
    Ok Ill bite. Why shouldnt you descale an HX machine. Particularly if start pretty new (before big chunks of scale form) so scale breaking of and blocking a pipe would be unlikely. I could only see a problem if you are lax with your descaling and leave it for quite some time (dependent on water) and chunks block small crevices. *
    I dont think anyone is suggesting you should never de-scale a machine, just suggesting it is only done when necessary.There are ways of checking your machine ie;removing the mushroom or the vacuum breaker on an e-61 machine, to see if a de-scale is necessary.
    Ive seen so many posts with the topic "i just de-scaled my machine and now this or that doesnt work" I guess theres also been lots of posts about problems caused by not de-scaling, so all im saying is dont do it as a matter of course, only when needed.De-scaling a HX machine is quite involved to do it properly, not expensive, but time consuming.

  12. #12
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Starbugs--

    I used a benchtop filter and pushed the rainwater through the filter by using a pump-up garden sprayer.

    Note--this does not give the best taste in coffee though, coffee needs some minerals in the water. The rain water was fine for the boiler though.

    Greg

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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Quote Originally Posted by 5551585B55574A4A3E0 link=1248865393/10#10 date=1249201670

    I dont think anyone is suggesting you should never de-scale a machine, just suggesting it is only done when necessary.There are ways of checking your machine ie;removing the mushroom or the vacuum breaker on an e-61 machine, to see if a de-scale is necessary.
    Ive seen so many posts with the topic "i just de-scaled my machine and now this or that doesnt work" I guess theres also been lots of posts about problems caused by not de-scaling, so all im saying is dont do it as a matter of course, only when needed.De-scaling a HX machine is quite involved to do it properly, not expensive, but time consuming.
    Umm.... here was were I was biting
    Quote Originally Posted by 7A5B50574D74733E0 link=1248865393/1#1 date=1248866002
    Sounds like you have been well advised on the one hand (do not descale hx machines), but ill advised on the other.

    Check here, its a fresh topic:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1248271598

    Good commentary there.
    edit:spelling

  14. #14
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    Re: DIY descaling on HX machine

    Quote Originally Posted by 54786B6D70787546547677727C60190 link=1248865393/12#12 date=1249286401
    Sounds like you have been well advised on the one hand (do not descale hx machines), but ill advised on the other.
    Sorry, i wasnt trying to contradict you, just trying to provide some balance between the never de-scale and de-scale every 2 months points.The person who made the comment about never de-scaling was a CS sponsor, and i can see their point- they probably see alot of customers damage their machines through un-necessary de-scaling ops.
    Im all for de-scaling, when needed. :)



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