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Thread: If your steam pressure ain't what it used to be...

  1. #1
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    If your steam pressure ain't what it used to be...

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Just a potentially handy hint, if your steam pressure has dropped for some reason, try this first before assuming the worst!

    My Profitec Pro 500 steam wand pressure seemed to be dropping lower and lower over time. I thought it quite odd... so I took off the steam tip and looked. The holes seemed fine and didn't looked blocked up at all. Decided to still poke a paperclip through and try clear it up anyway. Gave it a wash and tried it out.

    ..... dramatic difference. Night and day! Seriously, steam was back to full steam ahead!

    So give this is a go first before any other surgical procedures or diagnosis I reckon

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    You don't open the steam valve after each use to expel any milk residue?

  3. #3
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    You don't open the steam valve after each use to expel any milk residue?
    Yep I always do, every single time without fail. But somehow this cleared it up heaps.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    You don't open the steam valve after each use to expel any milk residue?
    It will still build up over time, I soak my steam tip in coffee cleaner(back flush powder) with my shower screen and baskets. I do still after that need to give them a poke through with the cleaning brush tip.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    It will still build up over time, I soak my steam tip in coffee cleaner(back flush powder) with my shower screen and baskets. I do still after that need to give them a poke through with the cleaning brush tip.
    Not my experience! I've owned espresso machines for over 15 years, always blow the wand out immediately after steaming milk, have never experienced a milk build up or blockage.

    One of the main culprits is leaving the wand immersed in milk at the end of the process, as the plumbing cools it draws milk into the wand, the results are predictable, have even heard of boilers severely contaminated with milk owing to this practice.

    From Alan Frew in 2004.
    "I've just finished the VERY disagreeable process of
    cleaning out 2 milk contaminated boilers. This happens when the
    steam wand of an espresso machine isn't flushed clean after use;
    as the boiler cools a vacuum forms and sucks the milk back into
    it. It can happen even with commercial machines, especially when
    steam wands are left inside water filled milk jugs to soak off
    dried milk. High temperature processing results in something best
    described as "Foul Gunk" (think rancid baby poo, in colour,
    texture and odour!) Fixing this is such a rotten job that the
    next one will cost $66.00 inc. GST, so be warned!"

    Here's a link to a thread re this subject, unfortunately the OP didn't let us know the solution to his problem.
    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...er-boiler.html
    Last edited by Yelta; 17th November 2018 at 10:34 AM.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Not my experience! I've owned espresso machines for over 15 years, always blow the wand immediately after steaming milk, have never experienced a milk build up or blockage.

    One of the main culprits is leaving the wand immersed in milk at the end of the process, as the plumbing cools it draws milk into the wand, the results are predictable, have even heard of boilers severely contaminated with milk owing to this practice.

    From Alan Frew in 2004.
    "I've just finished the VERY disagreeable process of
    cleaning out 2 milk contaminated boilers. This happens when the
    steam wand of an espresso machine isn't flushed clean after use;
    as the boiler cools a vacuum forms and sucks the milk back into
    it. It can happen even with commercial machines, especially when
    steam wands are left inside water filled milk jugs to soak off
    dried milk. High temperature processing results in something best
    described as "Foul Gunk" (think rancid baby poo, in colour,
    texture and odour!) Fixing this is such a rotten job that the
    next one will cost $66.00 inc. GST, so be warned!"

    Here's a link to a thread re this subject, unfortunately the OP didn't let us know the solution to his problem.
    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...er-boiler.html
    Why would you leave a steam wand in the milk to cool?

    I'm talking a micron of build up, a steam tip gets very hot and milk likes to cake when burnt, even when purging the wand it doesn't remove milk that burns onto the tip, yes you can wipe it off and I do. We are not talking about huge amounts that you can see I'm talking a thin film so small it isn't even visible.

    The tip removed to soak, otherwise it would be difficult to put the shower screen and basket in at the same time.

    I've owned coffee machines for 15+ years and never had to have any boiler repairs. My water is always filtered and steam tips always purged. I don't really know what your point is?
    simonsk8r likes this.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    One of the main culprits is leaving the wand immersed in milk at the end of the process, as the plumbing cools it draws milk into the wand, the results are predictable, have even heard of boilers severely contaminated with milk owing to this practice.
    Totally agree. I've always tried to lift the tip out of the milk just as the last of the steam (lower pressure) is still pushing when turning the steam knob off. A quick blast of steam to clear and a wipe clean after that. Likewise, never a restriction or blockage in the Steam Wand.

    The contamination issue is a very real concern with Hx (Heat Exchanger) machines especially.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    Why would you leave a steam wand in the milk to cool?

    I'm talking a micron of build up, a steam tip gets very hot and milk likes to cake when burnt, even when purging the wand it doesn't remove milk that burns onto the tip, yes you can wipe it off and I do. We are not talking about huge amounts that you can see I'm talking a thin film so small it isn't even visible.
    Milk residue on the exterior of the wand is not the problem, other than being a health hazard and unsightly no big deal, the problem is when milk enters the steam wand, this cant happen when there is positive pressure in the wand (steam flowing) immediately followed by blowing the wand out and wiping any residue from the tip.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Milk residue on the exterior of the wand is not the problem, other than being a health hazard and unsightly no big deal, the problem is when milk enters the steam wand, this cant happen when there is positive pressure in the wand (steam flowing) immediately followed by blowing the wand out and wiping any residue from the tip.
    I agree with that I'm just not sure why you're mentioning boilers filling with gunk when we are taking about tiny amounts of milk residue on the very tip of a steam wand, I would be very surprised if your steam wand after a day of making coffees would be perfectly clean. I think the OP was just trying to point out that even though things may seem clean and show no signs of build up, that simply removing the steam tip and pushing a paperclip through the holes will potentially remove a "very" tiny amount of burnt/ stuck milk.
    Last edited by Jono_Willmer; 17th November 2018 at 09:17 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I'll leave you with your thoughts.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    I agree with that I'm just not sure why your mentioning boilers filling with gunk when we are taking about tiny amounts of milk residue on the very tip of a steam wand, I would be very surprised if your steam wand after a day of making coffees would be perfectly clean. I think the OP was just trying to point out that even though things may seem clean and show no signs of build up, that simply removing the steam tip and pushing a paperclip through the holes will potentially remove a "very" tiny amount of burnt/ stuck milk.
    Unfortunately sometimes it is not just a tiny amount of milk that gets slurped up. Think 365 times contraction (steam back to water) when it cools down. I do not know first hand how long it takes to get to an extreme, I just know I have encountered at least a dozen "hard core cases" over the years (perhaps as many as twenty).

    On this one I agree with Alan Frew - when it occurs it is one of the worst jobs to clean such a boiler. BTW it can happen with thermoblocks/coils as well for the same reason. A couple of times I have had a 6910 hit my bench with milk solids all the way back to the steam thermocoil. They were the ones I ended up pulling the wand, plumbing and thermocoil out and soaking them in toluene overnight (sealed container / well ventilated area) - nothing else could attack that build up of smelly gunk in the smaller channels in the same calendar week... the first few times I had failed with less subtle approaches.

    Enjoy your cuppa - hopefully with non polluted milk if that is your thing.

    TampIt
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Unfortunately sometimes it is not just a tiny amount of milk that gets slurped up. Think 365 times contraction (steam back to water) when it cools down. I do not know first hand how long it takes to get to an extreme, I just know I have encountered at least a dozen "hard core cases" over the years (perhaps as many as twenty).

    On this one I agree with Alan Frew - when it occurs it is one of the worst jobs to clean such a boiler. BTW it can happen with thermoblocks/coils as well for the same reason. A couple of times I have had a 6910 hit my bench with milk solids all the way back to the steam thermocoil. They were the ones I ended up pulling the wand, plumbing and thermocoil out and soaking them in toluene overnight (sealed container / well ventilated area) - nothing else could attack that build up of smelly gunk in the smaller channels in the same calendar week... the first few times I had failed with less subtle approaches.

    Enjoy your cuppa - hopefully with non polluted milk if that is your thing.

    TampIt
    Are there any anti vac valves on e61 LaMarzocco, and Synesso machines?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Milk residue on the exterior of the wand is not the problem, other than being a health hazard and unsightly no big deal, the problem is when milk enters the steam wand, this cant happen when there is positive pressure in the wand (steam flowing) immediately followed by blowing the wand out and wiping any residue from the tip.
    Positive pressure only exists when the steam tap is turned on. Once turned off the steam wand turnes from positive to negative pressure, therefore sucking some milk into the wand causing the mentioned milk build up over time in the tip.
    If you believe that this will not occur then enjoy your coffee �� and good luck
    I remove the tips at work regularly for cleaning because I’ve seen it happen. Ask any good coffee machine tec as it should be part of the work done on a service

  14. #14
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    At the exact moment you turn stream tap off there is still more pressure in the wand than in the atmosphere. Over the next second or so it equalises by expelling steam out the end of the wand and then sucks back in again. As long as you remove the wand from the milk before it finishes expelling steam you're golden.



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