In 90% of coffee machine breakdowns are the result of an accumulation of lime in the machine’s internal pipes. Here we will look at this problem in more detail, as well as preventative measures to keep your coffee-pod machine in good condition.
What is lime?
Lime, also known as limescale, is a deposit of calcium carbonate, formed during the chemical reaction that takes place when water is heated. This is exactly what happens in the heating vessels of coffee-pod machines.
Ordinarily, the harder the water, the more lime deposited, but during the heating process, any kind of water is going to leave some deposits of lime.
Is lime a problem?
The accumulation of lime has various consequences:
- Firstly, it restricts the flow of water through the internal pipes.
- Secondly, it reduces the efficiency of the machine’s heating vessel.
In general, the parts of the machine most affected by lime are the vessel, the pressure pumps and any other piece that channels boiling water. But without a doubt the parts where the water remains static over a period of time are the worst affected and of these, above all, the vessel.
How can I prevent the build-up of lime?
- Never use mineral water in single-serve coffee machines; it contains too much calcium.
- Tap water is preferable, if possible, filtered.
How often should I remove lime?
This depends on many different factors but there are two main ones; the quality of the water used and the quantity of water that is passed through the machine.
A general rule would be to decalcify your machine every 300 coffees or once a quarter.
What do I use to decalcify my coffee-pod machine?
The first thing you have to do is read the instructions that come with the coffee-pod machine.
If the guidelines provided here contradict those given in your instruction manual, follow those in the manual
- Use a decalcifying solution containing citric acid made specifically for coffee machines. This is an odourless solution that will not affect the coffee’s taste and is, above all, biodegradable.
- Many people use vinegar for the same purpose, but I would not recommend this for coffee-pod machines, as it may damage the connecting pipes.
How to use the decalcifying solution
- Firstly, ensure that the machine is cold.
- Put ¾ cup of decalcifying solution in the machine’s water reservoir and then fill the rest with ordinary water. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.
- Turn on the machine and pump through the half of the liquid in the reservoir. Then turn the machine off and leave the solution to work in the machine’s internal parts for 10 minutes.
- Turn the machine on again and pump through the rest of the liquid in reservoir, leave for another 10 minutes with the machine turned off.
- Finally, rinse the whole machine with clean water, pumping three full reservoirs of water through the machines interior.