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Nasty Therminator

Went to check on my beers from the last brew day. All infected, a bit of tartness and a plastic/bandaid/rubber kind of smell and taste. 15 gallons down der drain.

So I start going through my post boil equipment and when I took the fittings off my Therminator, behold: moldy gunk in both sides of the wort line. Flash forward to me throwing out all hoses, plastic utensils, bungs, airlocks etc. and reordering (been awhile since they were replaced anyhow).

Now to clean the Therminator. I boiled, drained and dried overnight. Then I recirculated hot PBW through the thing for an hour, attached the hose and blasted all the crap out of the thing, changed sides and repeated the hose blast about 8 times each side, circulated starsan, boiled and then oven dried. I checked the thing this morning and some murky water dripped out. It is now sitting all day in a bucket of PBW.

Any other ideas? More of the same thing? Blichmann said that the hot PBW circulation should have been sufficient but it seems to need more. I’ll keep rinse, lather, repeating unless anyone has an alternate method that has worked for them.

man, if that didn’t clean it, not sure what will other than a rinse in caustic!

Does Blichmann recommend soaking it at all? I’m not sure what would be around to stick in an overnight soak of Oxy or PBW.

If your oven has a “self clean” setting you could try running that with the chiller in there. That should turn anything in there to ashes and kill off any living organisms. Although I am not sure if those high temps (I believe about 1000F) would do any damage to the chiller itself. Proceed at your own risk…I have never done this nor do I pretend to know what I am talking about.

I don’t think boiling it would be effective, but recirculating boiling water through it would. And baking would kill microbes, so even if there were a bit of hop matter or trub it wouldn’t cause an infection.

This is the one thing thats kept me from going the CFC route in spite of their advantages.

+1 to the oven, although you don’t necessarily need to use the self-clean mode.

My standard procedure for regular cleaning/sanitation of my plate chiller:

  • Night before brewing, into the over at 400°F for an hour
  • Morning of brewing, into an Oxi or PBW soak for 6-8 hours to loosen any baked on crap and rinse thoroughly.
  • During the boil, recirculate through my pump, hoses and chiller for 15 minutes
  • Immediately after brewing, back-flush 10-15 gallons of water through the chiller with a pump

I also soak my hoses in Oxi or PBW after every brew. I disassemble and clean my pump head and ball valve every 2-3 brews.

My procedure may be a little overkill, but cleaning/sanitation of your post-boil equipment is not the worst place for overkill. :wink:

A little overkill? Pretty OCD there, dude. But I bet it works!

I just run boiling water through my CFC on brew day, then run Star San. After chilling, I just run hot PBW through it.

[quote=“pkrone”]A little overkill? Pretty OCD there, dude. But I bet it works!
[/quote]
Touché.

The four point process actually involves a lot less investment than may appear on the surface. :mrgreen:

  • bake: 2 min effort, if that
  • soak and rinse: 3-5 min effort
  • recirculate: 0 min extra effort
  • pump 10-15 gal after brewing: 2-3 minutes of effort

Worry free brewing and strong preventive maintenance with 7-10 minutes per brew session. I bet most people who use a plate/CFC chiller and a pump spend more time than this on their cleaning/sanitizing process.

Simple fix. Recirculate a sodium hydroxide solution through the system. You can find it in products available from 5 Star Chemicals (Liquid Line Cleaner or Beer Line Cleaner). Or at your local hardware store in the form of lye, drain cleaner.

A tablespoon per gallon of water. Start with cold water. Recirculate while heating to ~150. After 15-20 minutes you should see the “gunk” in the water disappear.

Rinse well and you will be fine. I do this with a friends plate chiller about 2 times a year. More depending on the brewing frequency.

Sorry to be obtuse, but Therminator says caustic compounds like lye can cause damage.

http://www.blichmannengineering.com/sit ... ual-V8.pdf

Interesting find flars.

This solution was posted by a CA University PhD that became fed up with life. Quit and started as a cellar man at Sierra Nevada. Now is working in R&D. They use Lye in the brewery to clean plate chillers.

Also, speaking with a friend’s brother in law who has more degrees than a thermometer, which include metallurgy from MIT, lye would not be an issue with a brazed plate chiller.

Check with your local (or not so local) brew pub and see what they do.

The pros are going to use what is 1) most effective. 2) fast. 3) economical. Lye fits all three.

Nighthawk,
Perhaps Therminator is just trying to cover all the possible scenarios without firsthand knowledge. The information you have is very solid.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]

Also, speaking with a friend’s brother in law who has more degrees than a thermometer.[/quote]
Ha that line cracked me up! i have never heard that before.

“possibly” if you were to leave a lye solution in the plate chiller for a couple weeks it might affect the soft metal. If you only have it in contact for 15-20 minutes, 3-5 times a year, I doubt you will ever have an issue. If you used lye after every 5 brews and maxed out a household volume, you would deep clean the chiller 8 times.

If you do a search for lye and brewing, you will find post going back to 2007 on numerous message boards. I have not read one where someone said they had a leaky chiller. For any reason. Check that, I think there was one person that had a chiller that they could disassemble. That leaked after they opened it up.

My brewing partner checked with Sabco on his cleaning/sanitation process. Back flush and recirculate PBW. On brew day bring water up a boil and circulate through the chiller for 15min, using that for mash out water. They felt that was a satisfactory process.

There was always small amounts of hop material in the kettle. And he was always concerned. Now he does a lye washing 2-3 times a year. Even running it through the pipes of the Sabco brew rig.

I think he has been doing this for 2 years now.

You need to find Red Devil lye, most of the drain cleaners these days are liquids and I think many are acids rather than caustics. Red Devil can be kind of hard to find. I know because I use lye to make soap. Last time I ordered lye it was from an online soapmaking supply store.

Personally I don’t think you would need to resort to lye for cleaning though.

After a number of rinses, soaks and recircs, I still have junk coming out of the thing. Nasty. Lesson learned here.

Going to keep running hot BLC through the thing and then rinsing and soaking until it starts running clear. I guess it’s good that crap is still coming out… means it’s working right?

I think I know what caused my current situation, I recirculate ice water through the water side of the Therminator. Maybe that cold of a temp is causing some of that trub/cold break to congeal and stick to the inside of the chiller? Anyone else use ice water in a plate chiller? Northern folks with crazy cold groundwater, how low does the temp get?

[quote=“tom sawyer”]You need to find Red Devil lye, most of the drain cleaners these days are liquids and I think many are acids rather than caustics. Red Devil can be kind of hard to find. I know because I use lye to make soap. Last time I ordered lye it was from an online soapmaking supply store.

Personally I don’t think you would need to resort to lye for cleaning though.[/quote]
I’ve used hot lye solution on my plate chiller and even then, it didn’t come clean. Gave up and went to a counter current chiller.

[quote=“spykeratchet”]
I think I know what caused my current situation, I recirculate ice water through the water side of the Therminator. Maybe that cold of a temp is causing some of that trub/cold break to congeal and stick to the inside of the chiller? Anyone else use ice water in a plate chiller? Northern folks with crazy cold groundwater, how low does the temp get?[/quote]
What’s your maintenance procedure in between batches? That’s the first place I’d look to figure out how it got this bad.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]

This is the one thing thats kept me from going the CFC route in spite of their advantages.[/quote]

Me too. I’ll stick with my IC for now, even for 10 gal. It does take a little longer to cool but I started to add hops for my IPA’S while cooling, so Its been working for me.

If I start making more than 10 gal. I might consider a CFC but that will come with the said issues. I know " rinse out right away" but some of my brew friends found that problem was linked to a dirty CFC that was rinsed out after use.

Must be a build up of muck somewhere in a hard to clean place. Not sure myself since I’ve never used this but I think high heat will kill the baddies.

Usually hook the wort side up to the garden hose and blast all the crap out of it and then recirc starsan and air dry. Same way i set it up too, hose then recirc starsan.

Get it clean and after use start recirculating with hot PBW. Rinse well then recirc with boiling water. That should clean and sanitize it.

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