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Pump-and-plate-chiller newbie questions

I recently installed a new SS chugger pump and dudadiesel plate chiller on my system. I used both of these for the first time (with wort, not water) yesterday. I’ve read a number of tips on various sites about the proper use & operation of these devices, but I still have some questions:

1. How long can the pump be run without liquid before an issue develops?

As I’m pumping wort/liquid out of the kettle, it eventually drops below the dip tube. I can hear the change in the pump sound, and turn it off within about 5 seconds. I figure this is no big deal, but while I’ve read to never let it run “dry”, there has to be some tolerance for that, though I’ve never read any discussion on what that tolerance is.

2. How much wort is generally left in the lines from the kettle to pump to chiller to carboy?

I didn’t measure it, but it seemed like it could be half a gallon. Is there any decent/safe way to collect this, or should I just assume it’s “deadspace” and adjust my batches going forward?

3. How do you clean the pump head? CIP, remove & soak, or disassemble all attached ball valves & connectors?

I cycled the same 4 gallons of a warmish (~80F) PBW-like solution through the ball valve 6-8 times; I collected and discarded the first runnings, which appeared to contain the leftover wort in the line as well as other junk.

After cycling this, I cycled with 5 gallons of starsan, twice, discarding the first half-gallon or so of “first runnings” (i.e., PBW / starsan mix).

I then left the ball valve in the “open” position" and left the pump head in place on the pump.

4. Same cleaning question, for the plate chiller

Everything that was cycled through the pump was also cycled through the chiller. I then detached the chiller, tipped it to try to get as much to drain as possible, and then left positioned with the ports upside down for additional draining.

After the first bit of PBW was discarded, the PBW solution appeared pretty clean even after running it through 6-8 cycles. Same with the starsan. That said, I have no idea how to tell if its still dirty… it’s like trying to prove a negative! :?

5. Most importantly: when using pumps and plate chillers (especially with QDs), how do you avoid spilling water on the ground?

I spill a bit every time I disconnect a hose (during the clean-up and cleaning phase). When it’s winter, I’d prefer not to spill for obvious reasons.

Thanks!
:cheers:

You are going to trust someone here to tell you that the pump can be run for XX minutes before damage occurs? I would contact the manufacture if the literature that came with the pump doesn’t mention it.

On brew day, bring enough of your mashout/sparge water to run the pump up to a boil. Recirculate this for 10-15 minutes to “sanitize” the pump/hoses.

After brewing, hot water flush and a hot PBW recirculation. Every 4-6 brews, recirculation a caustic cleaner to deep clean the system.

You can calculate how much liquid your hoses hold by finding the ID and length. Simple math from there. Or, fill them and measure.

Raise one end of the hose and drain it. Next to zero loss.

Drips/spillage are a fact of life. Get some cake pans or automotive oil drip pans to contain any spillage.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]You are going to trust someone here to tell you that the pump can be run for XX minutes before damage occurs? I would contact the manufacture if the literature that came with the pump doesn’t mention it.
[/quote]

I wouldn’t run the pump dry for a minute, let alone multiple minutes. but the literature suggests even 1 second would/could be too much. I ask because this is the response I got to a similar question:

"It all depends on the how much friction and heat build up is between the shaft and the impeller. If it does bind up you can always ream it out a little with a 17/64th drill bit

Michael Caringi
Chugger Pumps
5044 Industrial Rd, Suite C
Farmingdale NJ 07727
ph (732) 223-3222
fax (732) 223-2587

mike@chuggerpumps.com"

Is recirculating starsan not appropriate or acceptable? Or is it just more work than the boiling water?

How hot, usually? Tap water “hot”, aka ~100-105F?

[quote=“Nighthawk”]You can calculate how much liquid your hoses hold by finding the ID and length. Simple math from there. Or, fill them and measure.

Raise one end of the hose and drain it. Next to zero loss. [/quote]

Duh. I should have known that. Thanks!

[quote=“Nighthawk”]
Drips/spillage are a fact of life. Get some cake pans or automotive oil drip pans to contain any spillage.[/quote]

Good idea. I was already thinking along those lines, but wanted to see if anyone had a “drip free” solution.

Here’s my cleaning routine:

At the end of my brewday, I clean my kettle and then fill it with water. I pump this water (~10 gal) through my plate chiller in the opposite direction (into the “out” side).

Plate chiller:
The night before brew day I bake my plate chiller in the over at 400°F for an hour, leaving it in during the heat up and cool down. Then I soak it in PBW or Oxiclean overnight or 4-6 hours, then rinse well. Total actual time investment is maybe 5 minutes.

Ball valves:
Every couple brew sessions, disassemble and soak in PBW or Oxiclean for a few hours. Not strictly necessary, but the inside of ball valves can get very nasty with organic growth.

Pump:
Every 2-3 months, I’ll disassemble the head and do a PBW or Oxi soak. I’m always amazed how clean it is when I take it apart. I still do it, though, because it’s easy and will prevent buildup.

Sanitizing: during the boil, I’ll recirculate boiling wort through the entire system for 10-15 min.

just about all the questions have a what if, or dependent on each persons brewhouse.

As for the cleaning questions, clean everything and backflush which is very important chillers if you can

[quote=“Silentknyght”][quote=“Nighthawk”]You are going to trust someone here to tell you that the pump can be run for XX minutes before damage occurs? I would contact the manufacture if the literature that came with the pump doesn’t mention it.
[/quote]

I wouldn’t run the pump dry for a minute, let alone multiple minutes. but the literature suggests even 1 second would/could be too much. I ask because this is the response I got to a similar question:

"It all depends on the how much friction and heat build up is between the shaft and the impeller. If it does bind up you can always ream it out a little with a 17/64th drill bit

Michael Caringi
Chugger Pumps
5044 Industrial Rd, Suite C
Farmingdale NJ 07727
ph (732) 223-3222
fax (732) 223-2587

mike@chuggerpumps.com"

Looks like if the pump is accidently run dry and damage occurs, there “may” be a fix. Best option is to never run it dry.

Is recirculating starsan not appropriate or acceptable? Or is it just more work than the boiling water?

StarSan will foam. You need mash out/sparge water anyway. Why not sanitize the pump/lines at the same time?

How hot, usually? Tap water “hot”, aka ~100-105F?

Tap water is fine.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]You can calculate how much liquid your hoses hold by finding the ID and length. Simple math from there. Or, fill them and measure.

Raise one end of the hose and drain it. Next to zero loss. [/quote]

Duh. I should have known that. Thanks!

Drips/spillage are a fact of life. Get some cake pans or automotive oil drip pans to contain any spillage.[/quote]

Good idea. I was already thinking along those lines, but wanted to see if anyone had a “drip free” solution.

After clean up on brew day do you leave your hoses in place on the system or remover and hang to dry?

Let the pump and chiller ‘drip dry’ or seal them up to keep crawling things out?

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