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Cleaning a dirty plate chiller

I bought a 30 plate wort chiller with fittings off of Craigslist for $40 which I thought was a great deal at the time. I took all the fittings off to clean it, and I then realized the previous owner’s cleaning habits weren’t so effective. I have soaked the chiller in strong solutions of hot water and PBW 4 times now (the last two were in a stainless steel pot on the stove with some heat applied to hopefully improve chemical effectiveness). While I am making progress, the water is still brown and chunks of wort / hop debris are still coming out when I flush it. I plan to keep soaking it until the water runs clear with no further debris. Can I guarantee that it will be free of debris at that point, or should I use some other stronger cleaner, and if so, what would that cleaner be? Any commercial acid products available to help eat away organic debris? When the chiller is totally free of debris, should all the water drain out when held upside down? It seems like it takes a while for the water to drain out of it telling me there’s still debris in it. I plane to bake the chiller in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees as suggested on this list previously once clean. Thank you.

Soak it in vinager. Works good. I use it for cleaning my scuba regulators but dont leave it over night. Just 30 to 40 min

Awesome! Thanks!

If it fits, you can also sterilize it in a pressure cooker for 30-60 minutes. I put a mason jar lid in the bottom of my pressure cooker and set my Blichmann chiller on top at an angle, with the connectors out of the water. The wet steam of a pressure cooker (like a lab autoclave) is pretty effective for sterilizing.

That’s a great idea, but I have to get it clean first. This is the third weekend where I have been working on that project. I took wilcolandzaat’s advice and soaked it in vinegar. Got a lot more chunks out. When I shake it after rinsing and draining, I can still hear trapped water inside which makes me think junk is still preventing it from freely running out (I’m assuming all water should run out if kept upside down, correct?). So I decided to hook it up to a 150 psi air compressor with some fittings, and I intermittently put my thumb over the outlet side to allow pressure to build and then let up to cause a rapid pressure release. I won’t go into the details, but what came out was far from clean water. So now that I might have opened more of the blockages, I’m going to go back to a PBW soak. Thanks for the advice so far.

Probably already gave this a shot, but after soaking have you tried taking a short length of 5/8 tubing and putting a standard garden hose connection on one end and the appropriate type of connection on the other that would hook up to the wort in or out and blast it that way. If you look at NB’s website and look at plate chillers you will see a backflush assembly that you hook to the water out and wort in or out.

Yes, I did do that with a home made hose with proper fittings before the vinegar and air compressor. Got more stuff out, but it still didn’t get it all out. This chiller must have been allowed to fully dry with the debris in it. How many times do we read on this list to clean your equipment ASAP before allowed to dry or it will make cleaning so much harder? I guess I got some of the vinegar trapped in it because I have had this chiller upside down on a paper towel to drain since Sunday and noticed this morning a blue ring on the paper towel indicating the acetic acid has corroded some of the copper braze holding the SS plates together. I don’t give up easily though! I’ll keep cleaning it with the PBW and back flush until the dirt stops coming out. Thanks for the response.

If you have a pump maybe pump PBW through it fir about 12 hours. Then rinse it well with clean water. Then rinse it again for 12 hours going the opposite direction. Rinse with clean water and see.

The seller probably got rid of it because (s)he had it completely clogged.

That sounds like a great idea. I’ll devise something to make this work. I agree that the seller knew he clogged it. I do feel that I am making progress. Although chunks are still coming out, the flow of water through the wort side is getting better. Thanks for the response.

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