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Removing and cleaning ball valves

Just curious - for those of you using a bulkhead fitting, how frequently (if ever) do you remove the ball valve for cleaning separately? I haven’t done it, because I fear that it will not re-seal well, but I am tempted to do some big cleaning with the holiday weekend coming up (plus I have four batches in the primary at this point, so I probably won’t brew this weekend).

And for those of you with 3 piece valves, do you leave the bulkhead fitting in place when you clean? I have both kinds (3 piece on mash tun only), but I have not disassambled the 3 piece before. :oops:

I have to confess that I have not disassembled the ball valve in my mash tun since installing it in Dec 2011…for the same reason as you. I’m not too worried about it, because (a) I rinse it out in place pretty well before and after each use (b) everything that passes through it gets boiled anyway. It’s a two-piece.

I’ve actually just started using the ball valve on my kettle, since I have a plate chiller now. I guess this is the time to develop the routine of cleaning it after each use. I’ve cleaned it once. It’s a 3-piece. I ended up removing the bulkhead, but I won’t do that again if I can avoid it. The valve was actually pretty clean. The nasty part: the dip tube. I have yet to find a brush that can bend past the elbow of the tube.

Ball valves do collect junk behind the ball. Even 2-piece ball valves can be taken apart and cleaned. I take apart the ball-valves and do a good cleaning of everything once a year.

A little bit of lye (drain cleaner) will clear everything out of your ball valve, plate chillers, and CFC’s.

I was thinking of doing an hour or two soak in PBW, if removal and disassembly of the valves was necessary. Probably not soaking the silicone rings for very long, though.

Hopefully, they will all be watertight, upon reinstallation!

I just found some mold hiding in my kettle dip tube and ball valve. I rinse before and after every use, so I was quite surprised. So now I’m in the habit of doing an oxy soak in the kettle with the tube submerged after use, being sure to open/close the valve a few times to get all those sneaky spots. Also, I’ve made the change to leaving all valves in the open position for storage. I’m thinking water got trapped, didn’t dry and this is where the mold came from. How do any of you store your’s, open or closed? I was able to use a keg dip tube brush to get in thru the valve and out the kettle dip tube. I might add that to the routine as well. Like many of you, I really don’t want to fiddle with removing the bulkhead for fear of leaks.

I do the rinse thing before and after, and while I have a boil going hard i open the valve and do a little recirc. I dont have any hose or anything, just copper. The boiling wort should kill anything left.

I do the open and close 10 times while soaking in PBW and it just doesn’t get back there.

Ya, I think your yearly plan of disassembly is probably the way to go. I even start every session with boiling 4-5 gallons water and running it through the ball valve/CFC/tubing. It was during this portion a few sessions ago I noticed some junk floating around. Had the chiller valve shut, open the kettle valve and squeezed the tubing a few times. The back flow shot out a bunch more junk. I boiled two more times after that and it seemed clean. Then did the oxy soak/dip tube brush and got out even more. I’m thinking of changing out the whole deal.

I don’t know how often you brew, but once a month is nowhere close to being often enough for me. Those valves get nasty! If you haven’t looked before, do it now! Once you do, you’ll be cleaning those valves WAY more often.

Lye. :wink:

It will eat all the gunk completely. You will 1st see stuff floating in the pot. Then it will disappear as the lye eats everything.

Not if it can’t get to it.

The gunk is in there because water/proteins were able to get in there.

PBW is having a hard time getting in there and loosing it up to get out.

Lye on the other had will eat away at it from the outside until it hits the metal/plastic.

Different chemical process, different results.

Maybe so, but I would still prefer taking them apart rather than using hot lye.

The gunk is there, but the valve on a kettle is sanitized by the heat of the boil, so it’s not a danger point, just kinda icky. I soak or circulate with hot PBW and move the valves back and forth for cleanings every few months just for the hell of it, and when I get motivated I take the valves apart for a soak (they are all 3-piece). Even if you never cleaned it, it wouldn’t matter, but if it makes you feel better go ahead :slight_smile:

This is a kettle valve that appeared very clean and this is what it looks like after a little while apart in PBW.

Wow did that open my eyes! Both the boil kettle and mash tun valves were loaded with gunk. The three piece for the mash tun was particularly bad, because it wasn’t up against a boiling pot, like the boil kettle valve. I may be stepping this up to quarterly disassembly/cleanings. The valves come apart so easily - why not? I can see why guys go to sanitary weld and tri-clamp…

Not liking what I see here. I’ve got 6 ball valves on my HERMS recirculation piping and taking them all apart frequently is not a good long term solution.

Anyone ever drill a hole in the ball valve housing as a method to allow the valve to dry completely?

[quote=“Brewbeer22”]Not liking what I see here. I’ve got 6 ball valves on my HERMS recirculation piping and taking them all apart frequently is not a good long term solution.

Anyone ever drill a hole in the ball valve housing as a method to allow the valve to dry completely?[/quote]

I don’t know where you could drill a hole that wouldn’t leak. You can get bleeder valves for air. They have a small hole that bleeds air to equipment off when you close the ball valve. It would be a mess with wort, though. I’ve seen guys install them in water lines. :lol:

Guys, don’t create a solution where there isn’t a problem. This subject comes up all the time and you don’t see the guys who have been brewing for decades worrying about it. Although there may be residuals, it won’t affect your beer.

If you do your normal cleaning with PBW and work the valves back and forth a bit and let them sit for a while to let the PBW work that will be fine. If you choose to get 3-piece valves that come apart easy, even better, but not needed.

Many very experienced folks don’t worry about this because it does not affect the product.

I used to dismantle, wash, and air dry my MT and BK on our dining room table. Two kegs and valve parts plus everything else from brewday takes up alot of room. After we bought our house I just clean the MT with hot chiller water outside, and clean out the BK after transfer. Probably should pull that valve apart in the near future.

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