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Vorlauf pump

I currently have two outdoor fountain pumps that I used to circulate ice water through my immersion chiller, in sort of a pre-chiller. Problem is, the flow rate is really slow. I think each pump is rated at 6 gallons per minute, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it were more like 3-4. So I’m not thrilled with this, I’m going to buy a sump pump, which is rated more like 20 gallons per minute.

Now, I want to use the smaller pumps I have for something else. Since I hate the act of waiting for the vorlauf to finish, I was thinking of doing this: pour my wort into a sanitized bucket through the valve in my MLT. Then use the pumps to get the cloudy wort back up to the top of the MLT and use a fighter jet sparge attachment at the end of the hose. That way the wort recirculates on its own and still doesn’t tunnel through the mash.

I’m sure plenty of people have done or thought of this. Any thoughts? Advice?

I would think if it was that simple… we wouldn’t have to buy fancy magnetic pumps… Sneezles61

I imagine it won’t be great, but I’m not going to use those pumps for anything else so I figured I would at least try, right?

I can’t see why it wouldn’t work at least a little bit. I understand that the nicer pumps would work better, if not great. But overall, it’s the same principle. I understand it may suck, in which case no true harm done, I just vorlauf the normal way. But best case? I could save hundreds of dollars, even if only for the duration of a few brews. Engineering principles tell me, as long as the pump doesn’t clog or burn out, it should work. May be slow because they don’t lift liquid too high all too well, but if I could sit back and just monitor it… it would make my experience more enjoyable. I really dislike that process

Give it a shot. I’m sure you can find an inexpensive pump. Refining your own process is part of the fun.
If I can hit 75% to 80% with brew in a bag approach with minimal sparging I’m sure you can figure out a way to make this step work for you.

One consideration that pops into my head is temperature rating of your fountain pumps. It’s worth a try though. :relaxed:

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Or their food grade properties. What exactly is that wort going to come into contact with?


Excellent point

Most of these plastic pump parts are made out of HDPE same as any “food grade” version the exception might be the design of gaskets and oiled or greased components. Many of the smaller water pumps use a magnet like core attached to the propellers. Who knows what this core is made out of.

I would bite the bullet and buy a March pump made for brewing if you are using it for your precious wort. They are tried and true. Many of us here have one or a clone.

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I will look into the components and see if I can find any info on them. Since it’s vorlauf wort, it won’t be above ~170 degrees but I definitely understand the concern.

Does anyone have a relatively cheap (under $100) suggestion for a march pump? I just don’t want to spend that much right now, only to save a few tedious minutes of recirculating

I would suggest going with a pump designed for the purpose if you are going to stick with circulation method. Many plastics, even plastic fermentors, will begin deforming when exposed to temperatures over 140°F. Some parts of the pond pumps may survive but not all the internal parts.

Ok you guys have convinced me to look into it and never use those pond pumps on wort.

I would love to find an affordable pump that wouldn’t need compressed air to purge the lines. After vorlaufing is finished, I would want to clean the line and the pump out, but most pumps I’ve found that are near $100 all need to be primed… which tells me I would need forced air to empty the leftover wort/water out… buying a pump and an air compressor is not going to fly with the wife. Does anyone have a better method of purging/cleaning a march or chugger?

Use a bicycle pump. Run boiling water before and after using. How are you sparging now. If your doing batch sparge. Just do a pour over vorlauf. What size is your system?

I have a MLT and HLT big enough to do 10 gallon brews but I only do 5 gallons at a time.

I normally batch sparge, but have been trying fly sparging lately. I vorlauf until clear, then fly sparge until I get ~6.5 gallons. I figure if I use a pump to vorlauf, I can attach the fighter jet sparge attachment to the end of the hose and that will avoid tunneling through the mash when it gets poured back into the MLT. I will have to use clear tubing to make sure I can see when the wort is clear.

Any preference on march pump vs chugger? There’s a chugger on amazon for about $120, I could probably swing that with the wife

I have a chugger and it has performed flawlessly.

To clean I run PBW through it and recirculate it back to my BK (also use it for whirlpool/CFC). Keep the return hose out of BK until all the wort is pushed out then re-attach return to BK.

How do you get the pbw out of the pump/lines afterwards? If I leave the liquid in there for weeks, it will probably grown bacteria so I need to purge the lines. I guess I could spend an extra $20 for a bike pump that will make up to 150psi…

To rinse I run clean hot water through it. I use QDs so the lines pop right off and get hung up. The water drains out of the pump as I’ve got the in/out vertical.

Mine is not mounted to anything and I also use quick disconnects so I can hold it over the sink and rinse with hot tap water after use. I aim the discharge down into the sink, put the suction end against the water tap, plug 'er in and flush away. I leave it oriented vertically to drain. I also follow the same procedure before use. Nary a problem so far.

When I’m done, I usually heat a few gallons with PBW, run the pump continuously… Then discharge down the drain… I too have cam locks (QD) and a piece of tubing that reaches from the faucet to the pump I will hook up and give it a rinse… Start the pump a couple of quick times and done… Time to brew… I’ll do the tubing trick before all is hooked up to be sure stuff is clean… Look at Blichmanns riptide pump… That will be my next one… Sneezles61

You need more than just the pump. Barbs, ball valve, high temp tubing will be needed if you want to do it right.

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