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Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
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chasemonster
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chasemonster
Joined: 3 Jun 2010
Posts: 364
Location: Chicago
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Espresso: Rancilio Audrey
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Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 6:44pm
Subject: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

Does anyone out there know why the brass boiler and brass grouphead in my old espresso machine is giving off a funky smell as it heats up?
I opened up the machine and the smell seems to be the most intense coming from the top of the boiler where the boiler is giving off a lot of heat into the air. The smell is very strong in those heat waves.
And the brass around the screen also takes on this same odor.
And the portafilter as it sits in the group for a while warming up will also have this smell on it when I remove it.
It's like all the brass is contaminated somehow, and anything that comes in contact with the brass also becomes contaminated -although the smell on the portafilter does go away.

The steam, from the hot water from the grouphead has this smell too, but when I take away the little plastic container that I use to catch the water from the boiler, and smell the hot water in the container, there is none of the odor.

I descaled the machine with citric acid, but all that came out was basically clear water, just a little light blue tint which went away after flushing out the system with clean water.

WTH is going on with the brass as it is heating up and cooling down? Why is it giving off this smell.
The machine is probably 20 years old and has been sitting around and never used for all of these years.
Everything works as it should and there are no leaks and it seems fine except for this smell.
Can anyone explain what is going on and how I might be able to stop this smell, or is it possible that it will go away on its own after a while? :)
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
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Location: Brentwood, TN
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Espresso: Bezzera Strega
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Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Mon Jan 30, 2012, 11:40pm
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

Bill, is the smell almost sickly sweet, like  rose/gardenia perfume?

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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chasemonster
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chasemonster
Joined: 3 Jun 2010
Posts: 364
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Audrey
Grinder: Hario Mini Mill
Drip: V60
Posted Tue Jan 31, 2012, 12:49am
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

IMAWriter Said:

Bill, is the smell almost sickly sweet, like  rose/gardenia perfume?

Posted January 30, 2012 link

Actually, there is a sickly sweet smell coming from the brass around the group area where the screen and gasket would normally go. And that is without it being warmed up.
But not anywhere around the outside of the boiler do I get that. When the boiler is cold, the brass just smells like metal.
It's when it starts to heat up that the the boiler starts giving off a light caustic smell. And it fills the air and makes it unpleasant.
I disassembled the machine Sunday night and soaked the boiler and group completely submerged in a bucket for a few hours with citric acid but it didn't help.
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,841
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Tue Jan 31, 2012, 9:00am
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

I forgot what Doug at Orphan Espresso told me was the case of that smell...often found in old lever machines too. May be milk that got into the boiler?
Hang in there, and I'm sure someone who knows will post.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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seanv
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Joined: 21 Mar 2012
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Location: Berlin
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Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola
Posted Wed Mar 21, 2012, 6:43am
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

Chase monster

Did you ever find out what was causing it?  I feel I have the same problem. Its certainly not sweet, more  dusty / metallic.  In my case, the problem stems  from having left the machine (Pavoni Europiccola) to boil dry with descaler in.  I am wondering if there is something in the safety valve/steam release...?
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symbolic
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Joined: 16 May 2012
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Location: europe
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Posted Thu Nov 22, 2012, 8:44am
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

I also have a similar problem , when the machine heats up there is a smell thats certainly not smells good.
But as soon as the machine is cold again the smell isnt there anymore.

What could this be? Milk sucked up in the boiler? And most important is there anyway to fix this?
Ive already stripped the machine so I dont feel to do it again.
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seanv
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Joined: 21 Mar 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Berlin
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola
Posted Thu Nov 22, 2012, 8:54am
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

symbolic

did you check the safety valve when you stripped the machine? basically I ' ve had my boiler cleaned professionally, and the coffee/hot water  doesn't smell particularly so I was wondering if the smell was localised in the safetyvalve-  where cleaning boiler wouldn't really reach... and where steam (and smell) would be released.
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symbolic
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Joined: 16 May 2012
Posts: 6
Location: europe
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Nov 22, 2012, 1:35pm
Subject: Re: Old Brass Boiler Giving Off A Pungent Dusty Smell That Permeates The Air
 

Yes I even changed the safety valve, and Ive overfilled the boiler with citric acid afterwards.

Maybe there was milk in the boiler when I cleaned it. I read somewhere that its possible to get the milk taste away with bicarbonate, so Im going to try to fill the boiler with bicarbonate solution ( I will remove the safety valve and fill it through there ) and then heat the solution to about 90 celsius and then drain it. I hope this will work.
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