Semi-Automatic Cleaning & Maintenance
Like a car, your espresso machine is an investment whose performance and longevity depend on proper care and operation. To help ensure that you get the most out of your machine, we have outlined several key maintenance procedures that will help to keep it brewing and steaming properly. The following information applies to most of our Semi-Automatic espresso machines, unless indicated otherwise.
Group Head Cleaning:
- Flat-Head Screwdriver
- Phillips Head Screwdriver
- Needle Nose Pliers
- A Stiff-Bristled Brush
- Gaggia Decalcifying Solution
- Remove the water tank, drip tray and grid, portafilter, and power cord.
- Lay the machine on its back.
- Locate the shower screen. It is where you lock the portafilter into place.
- Remove the shower screen, it is fastened into the group head with a Phillips head screw in the center. Once the screen is out, the 3/4 inch-thick aluminum shower holding plate is exposed. It is held in place by two 5mm Allen bolts.
- The shower holding plate should just drop out after you remove the Allen screws. If it does not, use a large flat-blade screwdriver to gently pry out the shower holding plate. Be careful not to damage the ridge that the shower screen fits up into. If you do, a new holding plate is available.
- Sometimes, the shower holding plate may really be stuck. To remove a plate that is stuck, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers. Open the pliers and stick the points into the holes where the Allen bolts were, then turn hard. This should free the shower holding plate. Clean out any build-up that you see using a stiff brush and some descaling solution – the same kind you would use to descale the machine.
- You should now be able to remove the group gasket. It is a large black rubber ring.
- Once the parts are removed, use a stiff brush and some descaler, like Gaggia Decalcifier, to clean any build up in the group head. You can also soak all metal parts in the descaler to remove tough stains and build up. DO NOT soak any plastic pieces in the descaler, as it can compromise their integrity. This is also a good time to soak the portfilter head and coffee baskets.
- Once everything is clean, make sure you thoroughly rinse off any descaler or other detergent that you used during the cleaning process.
- Reassemble the group head and test to make sure it has been put back together correctly.
Group Gasket Replacement:
The group gasket is a rubber gasket that rests inside of the group head of a semi-automatic espresso machine and creates a seal to prevent leaks. Over time, the gasket becomes worn through use, which can lead to leaking during the brewing process. When this happens, the group gasket must be replaced to ensure that the machine continues to function properly. The following tutorial outlines the process of properly replacing a worn group gasket.
- Number 2 Phillips Head screwdriver
- 5mm Allen Key
- Flat blade screwdriver, Needle nose pliers
- Begin by removing the water reservoir, the portafilter, the drip tray, the drip pan, the water reservoir cover, and the pipe that drains into the drip tray.
- When all of these parts have been removed, lay the machine down on its back.
- Before removing the group gasket, the shower screen and the shower holding plate must be removed beforehand. The shower screen is held in place by a number 2 Phillips-head screw, and the plate behind it by a set of 5mm Allen screws. Remove the shower screen, followed by the holding plate.
- If the shower screen plate does not fall out of the machine once the Allen screws have been removed, it may need to be gently pried out. A flat-head screwdriver or knife works well for this purpose. If the plate still will not come out, a pair of needle nose pliers can be inserted into the holes for the Allen screws and turned until the plate comes loose.
- With the screen and plate removed, the group gasket will now be accessible.
- When the screw is secure, grasp it (with pliers if necessary) and pull until the gasket comes out.
- After the gasket has been removed, make sure the surface inside of the group head is free of any debris or anything else that could block the new gasket.
- Insert your new gasket and replace the shower screen and shower screen plate. Once you have returned all of the machine's components to their proper places, lock the portafilter into the group head. Remove it and lock it several more times to help secure the gasket.
Depending on the state of the gasket, one of several methods may be employed in its removal. Most commonly though, the gasket can be removed by prying it from the group head. The gasket should be removed from the inside out (pry from the inside of the circle outward, not from the outer edge).
Alternatively, if the gasket cannot be pried loose, a screw and a pair of pliers can be used to remove it. Drive the screw securely into the gasket using a screwdriver, taking care not to go all the way through.
Steam Wand Cleaning & Assembly:
- In order to ensure the performance quality of your Pannarello Wand, regular maintenance is necessary to prevent milk residue from building up and impeding its functionality. It is important to clean your wand after each use, with particular attention being paid to the air intake hole as you will no longer be able to create froth if it becomes clogged.
- To remove the Pannarello Wand, begin by sliding the frothing sleeve off of the inner wand.
- To remove the inner wand, grasp it between your thumb and forefinger and with your opposite hand, unscrew the cap nut which holds it in place.
- When the nut has been fully unscrewed, you will be able to slide the inner wand off of the steam arm, when you do, take care not to lose the small plastic gasket located between the inner wand and the cap nut.
- There is a second, larger rubber gasket that often remains lodged inside of the inner wand after removal. This gasket can be pried out of the inner wand with the use of a small screwdriver or a similar tool.
- Remove the cap nut and you can begin cleaning the Pannarello Wand.
- With the gaskets and cap nut in place, slide the inner wand back up the arm and back into the cap nut.
- Tighten the cap nut until the inner wand is secure and replace the frothing sleeve. When everything is back in place, gently tug on the wand to make sure that it is secure and won't slide off during frothing.
- There may be some slight variation in the designs of the wands that come with each machine, but the process outlined above applies to all varieties of Pannarello Wands currently offered by Gaggia.
Gaggia Pannarello Wands are made out of five components. The cap nut, the inner wand, a small plastic gasket, a large rubber gasket, and the frothing sleeve. The following steps outline how to remove a Pannarello wand.
When you have cleaned your wand and it comes time to replace it, begin by sliding the cap nut, back onto the steam arm, followed by the small gasket, and then the large gasket.
- Gaggia Decalcifying Solution
- One container that will hold the same amount of liquid as your water reservoir
- Another small container to catch water from the group head
- Remove the machine’s water reservoir and empty all of the liquid from it.
- Mix or dilute your Gaggia Decalcifier according to the directions in a separate container.
- Fill the reservoir with the solution.
- Reattach the water reservoir to the machine.
- Turn the machine on.
- Set a large container underneath the steam wand to collect the decalcifying solution.
- Set another container underneath the brew spout to collect more of the decalcifying solution.
- Set the machine up so that hot water will be dispensed from the steam wand when the steam valve is opened.
- Start the machine so the solution begins flowing from the steam arm.
- Allow about 2 oz of solution to be dispensed from the steam arm.
- Stop the flow and close the steam valve.
- Now, press your brewing button and allow about 2 oz to of solution to be dispensed from the group head.
- Allow the machine to sit for the amount of time specified on the cleaner packaging. This is typically two to five minutes.
- Repeat steps 10 - 14 until all of the decalcifying solution has drained into the containers.
- Remove the containers and discard the liquid that has been collected.
- Rinse the water reservoir thoroughly and then fill it with the type of water you usually use for brewing.
- Re-attach the reservoir to the machine.
- Rinse the decalcifying solution out of the machine by allowing a continuous flow of water from the steam arm until the water tank is empty, or nearly empty. Close the knob when the process is complete.
- Refill your water tank and place it back onto the espresso machine.
- Press the brew button to dispense 2-4 oz of water from the group head to flush this area clean.
The decalcifying process is now complete. If you are unsure if all of the descaling solution has been flushed from your machine, you can use baking soda to test if the acids from the solution are still present in the water.