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> Think your plate chiller is clean? Think again.
dagomike
post Feb 3 2007, 11:10 PM
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Blistering cold day here (low of -4, high of 9 -20-something windchill) so I decided to hunker down for the day. I brought in a mountain of firewood, watched some b-ball, and did some projects. One of my projects was to work on my Therminator. My typical routine is after the brew day, I fill my boil kettle with 3-4 gallons of hot water, dump in some cleaner and pump a loop through my pump and chiller. A couple times I did an acid rinse for beer stone, but that's it. I figured that should take care of whatever was produced from the brew day.

First step is I let it soak in hot cleaner for an hour or so. (local PBW substitute -- non-caustic alkaline cleaner). I moved it around good to make sure all the channels got some cleaner. Flushed that out with hot water. Some crud came out. Figured lets get medieval -- I put it in the pressure cooker for a half our. Water was copper-ish with some floaties. Figure what the hey, MSU is losing, lets to it again. Water still a little discolored, but better, figured I was good to go, lets make some soup for dinner. Then tonight, decided to do it right and hit it up with caustic cleaner then an acid rinse. I boiled up some water, added caustic and soaked it in there for 15 minutes. When I pulled it out, all kinds of floaties came out. Interesting. Lets put it back in for another 15. Pulled it out, more floaties. Well, lets flush it. What a mess! It filled the sink with swamp crud. I couldn't believe it. It was absolutely disgusting.

I highly recommend anyone with a Therminator or Shiron plate chiller find some caustic and do this. Be very careful, wear goggles and elbow chemical gloves. That crud can't be left in there.

The good news is I pulled my pump heads apart that they were clean as a whistle.
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jim81147
post Feb 3 2007, 11:21 PM
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I was just listening to a show on TBN about that . They were saying that the way those are built it is impossible to clean out the crud completly , I guess lots of dead end passages and such . They say the best way to sanitize is to bake , using the heat . The professionals use plate chillers that are able to be disassembled and cleaned . The separate layers have gaskets so that is what makes it possible to tear down and reassemble. They said that a model like that would not be cost effective for the homebrewer.
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Listermann
post Feb 3 2007, 11:47 PM
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What are you using for caustic? NaOH is getting hard to come by.

Dan
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AggieChemDoc
post Feb 4 2007, 12:34 AM
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QUOTE(Listermann @ Feb 3 2007, 11:47 PM) *
What are you using for caustic? NaOH is getting hard to come by.

Dan


Drano is sodium hydroxide and bleach.
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Heesman
post Feb 4 2007, 01:04 AM
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Out of curiousity, how many batches/gallons/etc have been run through your plate chiller? With as much junk as you had in yours, you never had an infected batch?

Hmmm, it makes me wonder if I spent $189 wisely....
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werper
post Feb 4 2007, 02:19 AM
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Hmm... I wonder how bad my convoluted counter flow chiller is then? I'd guess not as bad since there are really no dead spots, but...(IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/sorry.gif)

This post has been edited by werper: Feb 4 2007, 02:19 AM
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just-cj
post Feb 4 2007, 06:34 AM
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Beer Line Cleaner is a pretty strong caustic that should do the trick as well.

About being able to take apart your plate chiller, I asked a couple professional brewers about that, and most of them said they never took their plate chiller apart, and the one who had taken his apart ended up with major leakage that took a lot of work to patch up/stop. That guy also told me that when he took it apart, it was pristine inside -- but then again, he uses caustic after every use.
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chilihed
post Feb 4 2007, 08:57 AM
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I have had the same experience with cleaning and cleaning and crud still comes out even after a 30 minute backflush immediately after use. I have gotten to the point that I store the chiller in a bucket full of beer line cleaner and flush prior to use as well as the usual clean up after use. PITA. I may go back to a counterflow.
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snowman
post Feb 4 2007, 09:35 AM
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WOW...I hate to say this but isn't this the fear that was mentioned when the plate chillers started getting popular. Would really suck to decide that you no longer wanted to use a plate chiller and had already gotten rid of you counter flow. Really surprises me to see chilihed thinking that he may stop using his as I know first hand that he works in the industrial food equipment industry and uses the best of the best caustic to clean with (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/crazy.gif)

BEST OF LUCK TO ALL!
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dagomike
post Feb 4 2007, 09:45 AM
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QUOTE(Listermann @ Feb 3 2007, 11:47 PM) *
What are you using for caustic? NaOH is getting hard to come by.


Dan, I don't have the info sheet in front of me. I get it from a local supplier called Enerco -- they serve many breweries around the state. The product is CS-464.

QUOTE(Heesman @ Feb 4 2007, 01:04 AM) *
Out of curiousity, how many batches/gallons/etc have been run through your plate chiller? With as much junk as you had in yours, you never had an infected batch?

Hmmm, it makes me wonder if I spent $189 wisely....


I got it last spring, so there's probably about 20 batches on it, most 5 gallons. I did actually have a mild acetobacter infection that I think I traced back to the chiller/pump. I've since recirculated boiling wort through my chill circuit for the last 10-15 minutes of the boil. That seems to take care of sanitizing/sterilizing the chiller. I would think though there's no way regular sanitizing routine would do the job. Judging from what came out of there, I would say quite a few channels may have been blocked off.

I don't think I would recommend anyone buy one of these plate chillers. Knowing what I know now between this and Jamil's immersion chilling method, I don't think I buy it again.

QUOTE(just-cj @ Feb 4 2007, 06:34 AM) *
Beer Line Cleaner is a pretty strong caustic that should do the trick as well.


Yes it is caustic, but don't know much about it, plus it's pretty expensive. If someone has some, I would say it's worth a shot.

If I wasn't suited up in chemical gear, I would have took some pictures. It would have turned everyone's stomach.
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chilihed
post Feb 4 2007, 09:50 AM
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For the caustic to do its job it takes two things......time, and temperature. It doesn't really kick in until about 150 f and at that temp you would need to recirculate for about 30-40 minutes which would add a considerable amount of time to the brew day. I will probably continue to use the Shirron but need to find a better way to clean it. I have started using hop bags but that doesn't address the trub issue. Almost need to filter the wort through a hop bag into another keg and go from there throught the chiller to keep as much particulate out as is possible.
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gnef
post Feb 4 2007, 09:52 AM
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wow, i was thinking of getting a plate chiller sometime in the future, but it sounds like i should put that money towards other things now.

thanks for the honest assessment of your equipment, i'm sure many of us appreciate it, i know i do!
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BrewerGeorge
post Feb 4 2007, 09:54 AM
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Do you use pellet hops?
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chilihed
post Feb 4 2007, 10:04 AM
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I use primarily whole leaf hops. I only use pellets when leaf hops don't come in the variety I need.
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shortbus
post Feb 4 2007, 10:07 AM
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Are you sure the gunk was coming from the worth channels and not the cooling channels?
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