Saeco Aroma Issue

nobody

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Hi,
I got a Saeco Aroma around Christmas time and it's been a fun learning experience. The machine has run well so far and has been a great starter machine to see if I enjoy doing this, and I do. One slight issue has cropped up since it was new, however. The mahine has gotten a bit messier to use since new. Now, when I remove the portafilter, there is some residual pressure left that causes the espresso in the portafilter to work up and around the top of the portafilter, into the portafilter socket and down the sides of the portafilter. It didn't seem to do that when new. I have descaled the machine according to the Saeco instructions and have generally kept it clean. There is one thing that I did notice about it. After time, the holes in the portafilter basket seemed restricted, so I soaked it in some lemon juice and water, which cleaned the holes back to normal and reduced some of the mess. I have seen some alternate cleaning videos which show to run some descaling solution in the portafilter, which off of the top of my head, is not how Saeco writes up the descaling, so I haven't tried that method. I have had the portafilter apart. I didn't see any obvious blockage. It was generally clean. I wiped up some pieces and put it back together. I'm hoping that when I do my next descaling in a day or two, that it clears this up. I'll try the alternate method which runs the cleaner through the portafilter. Has anyone else had this problem? If so, have you solved it? Is there any part up in the portafilter socket that helps bleed off pressure and should be cleaned, or is that all controled by the portafilter?

Thanks,

Danny
 
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shadow745

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Descaling solution helps dissolve mineral deposits and not much else. I strongly advise you remove/clean the shower screen, basket and portafilter with a backflush detergent such as JoeGlo, Cafiza, etc. Even simple OxiClean will work pretty good for this and may be easier for you to find. Mix 1 TBSP per quart of hot water, soak parts for 15-20 mins and rinse well with hot water. I also like to use a toothbrush to lightly scrub these parts as well. Depending on your use, I'd recommend doing this every 2-3 weeks. FWIW if any of the parts I mentioned have any build up it will cause an increase in brew pressure with your machine. Also, after each brewing session (let machine cool a bit) it's a good idea to wipe the shower screen and clean the group gasket. A group brush, bent toothbrush, etc. will suffice for the gasket area.
 

nobody

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Thanks for the information. I can see that I got the wrong cleaning agent, or maybe insufficient types of them, because today I just got in a shipment of Dezcal, which is made by Urnex, which makes Cafiza that you recommend. I
wasn't aware that there was any difference in the cleaners, and the Saeco manual, as far as I remember is no help there, only talking about "descaling". As far as I knew at the time, I was doing the correct thing, but I now see that there is more to it. I'll have to order some Cafiza, but until I get that ordered and in, I'll have to try OxiClean as you mention. I guess that I wasn't so far off the mark with some things because I already got a toothbrush dedicated to the machine for cleaning. By "showerscreen", I assume that you mean the metal plate with holes that centers over the portafilter from above? From your description, if that's what it is, I assume that's my most likely source of trouble, followed by the inside of the portafilter as a distant second, as I had disassembled it not long ago. Each day, after use, I was cleaning what I think that you describe to be the showerscreen with a cloth, as well as the portafilter socket, because coffee started pushing up into there.

Danny
 
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nobody

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Doing what you had suggested may have done the trick. I did all that, then tried to run the machine with water only. Shortly after shutting off the brew button, I heard a "hiss" from the portafilter, like pressure was evacuating. I think that I used to hear that sound when it was new, but not for a while now. I will know more tomorrow night when I try to make my usual two 16 oz. Lattes. My machine is used every day to make two.

Danny
 

shadow745

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Dezcal, durgol, citric acid, etc. are all descalers and are flushed through the machine to dissolve mineral deposits inside the boiler, plumbing, etc.

Backflush detergents (Cafiza, JoeGlo, etc) are used to backflush machines that have 3-way solenoids (doubt yours has one so don't try to backflush) as well as being great to soak parts to clean them quickly/safely. OxiClean is said to work as well as brand name detergents, just be sure you rinse well.

Yes the shower screen is the metal disc with lots of perforated holes. Over time the holes will clog and cause issues with water distribution, pressure, etc. Like I said above, I'd suggest you remove and clean the screen, basket and portafilter every 2-3 weeks. You shouldn't have to disassemble the portafilter (pressurized parts) every time as a good soak/rinse should work fine. Not sure if the Aroma has a dispersion disc behind the shower screen, but will check a schematic diagram just out of curiosity. Most machines have them as it distributes the water to the screen evenly. If yours does have one it would benefit from cleaning as well.
 

nobody

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shadow745,
Thanks for the help. You really got me up to speed quickly. I was able to get the machine clean according to your directions. I had to go the OxiClean route, but with a second brand from Aldi. It cleaned the parts well. I soaked the portafilter and showerscreen after descaling. The basket had already been cleaned. Above the showerscreen was a film of coffee. The hole sizes looked compromised. After cleaning these parts, I ran the machine with water and no coffee. In the basket, when done, I found a few flecks of coffee that worked free from somewhere. I tried the machine out tonight and it worked a lot better. I don't know if it is 100% correct now, but still, it is a vast improvement. Tonight all that happened is that some espresso leaked over the top of the portafilter and down the sides when I turned it loose. I got no pressure venting as I loosened the portafilter as I had before. I'm sure my machine can't be backflushed. They don't supply the no holes cup like I had seen in some videos. I don't know if I have a dispersion disc. All that I saw was the showerscreen, the screw, a spring, and what I call a modified check ball. That's a kind of ball with an attached stem which gets placed in one end of the spring. The checkball goes up into a recess in the portafilter socket on the machine. The spring goes under the ball, sitting on the showerscreen. Up in the socket is a circular seal about the size of the showerscreen. I'll try to soak the parts again. Maybe it never worked better when new. I did change the grind today, so two variables got changed at once. I had some coffee that Starbucks ground too fine, on the normal espreso setting. Normlly I use one setting coarser. When used straight, my machine stopped, not letting out any espresso, turning the coffee into a hard mass. I used about half of that with a half of my normally coarser grind. It could have contributed to the small leakage tonight.

Thanks for the help,

Danny
 
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shadow745

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Judging by the parts diagram I found there is no dispersion disc. Looks like the screen screws on the way you describe. The check ball setup is what some call a group valve. A machine will either have a 3-way solenoid that will control pressure from the boiler to the group OR it will have a group valve. If nothing was in place to hold back the pressure you would end up with a drip or even steady flow from the screen... which happens to be one way you can tell if you have a clogged or bad group valve OR 3-way solenoid on machines so equipped.

FWIW the 3-way solenoid was implemented on a commercial level to allow the barista to remove the portafilter right after extraction in order to dump the puck and prep for another extraction. The 3-way simply dumps the excess brew pressure into the drip tray. If the 3-way wasn't in place you either make a mess by releasing the pressure on the puck or you wait a bit for the pressure to dissipate, then release the portafilter. Over time 3-way solenoids made their way into more expensive home machines for the added convenience factor. It doesn't make the espresso any better, just allows you to extract back-back if so desired with no waiting.

Does sound like you may have gone too fine on the grind. In your machine if the water/coffee can't make it through the holes in the basket the pressure has to go somewhere.
 

nobody

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shadow745,
Again, thanks for more valuable information. I think now that we have this machine running as well as it ever had been. I can see that I have probably already outgrown this machine as I am now not a rank beginner. This forum has been a big help in getting me up to speed when I had some issues. I suppose that there are multiple issues at work now, aside from the fact that I am now working with a simple machine. When I first started out, I was pulling only one shot at a use, so very likely, I was never removing the portafilter as soon as I am now, because I now pull two shots. I can see that I probably had too high of expectations on the speed that I should be able to release the portafilter, and that commercial machines have the three way solenoid to make speed more possible. I have also heard rumors that pressurized portafilters are, by nature of the beast, more messy in this respect. Last night I gave the machine a second detail cleaning and also upped the amount of coarser grinds in my mix. On the first shot, I waited about 30 seconds and released the portafilter. There was no pressure release, but again, a little drippage of espresso over the edge of the portafilter, which amounted to about 5-6 drops. The second time, I waited almost a minute and unlocking the portafilter was completely a clean operation with no dripping or pressure release. I suspect that on the first try, the drippage was probably because the water was still a bit high over the puck and certainly not a result of unreleased pressure.

Danny
 
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