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Old 02-20-2011, 08:33 PM   #1
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Default Sanitation and ball valves

HI Everyone-

I am in the middle of planning a new RIMS system with a BIAB setup. I have always used silicone tubing, cleaned immediately after every brew day and NPT threaded ball valves. My standard cleaning procedure is after the brew day to recirculate hot PBW for 15 minutes, flush with several gallons of water with the pump, and occasionally run starsan after flushing, but not every time. During the boil I use the pump to recirculate boiling wort for 15 minutes before chilling and I have never had an infection yet. I did take the ball valves apart once and there was a large amount of, er, "gunk" inside of it. I cleaned it out and kept using the ball valve for several subsequent batches and haven't cleaned it out again (it can sit for a month or more at a time between uses). The subsequent batches have not been infected, either, but I presume there is a bunch if gunk in the valves again.

With my new setup I am planning to plumb everything to a brew stand. The big issue with this is that it will be difficult to get the ball valves off for cleaning. The valves in question are new 3 way valves, but I would assume the issues with them should be similar to the issues with 2 way valves, right? The valves will usually have hot wort running through them, but in batches which don't use the hopback, I will do recirculation chilling, and so they will be exposed to theoretically sterile but cooled wort. Do you think it is safe to just recirculate for 15-30 minutes of boiling and gunk be damned, or am I setting myself up for infections? Below is the pipe diagram of the system in question. This back assembly 3 way valve can be problematic because chilled wort will flow through an area that has not seen boiling water yet. The whole valve out to be 212 degrees from the recirculating boiling wort (trapped gunk included), but technically boiling wort will never touch the outflow section. My plan was to squirt a ton of starsan in there and then put a boiled and sanitized hose barb on the end.




IF these valves need to be taken apart every 2 or three brews (or even every one), how do you recommend I hook them up so they will be easily taken out of the system? I had toyed with the idea of putting them on tri clover fittings so I can just unclamp them from the main assembly, but I was wondering if there is an easier (read: cheaper) alternative without having to disassemble a whole bunch of the pipes. I now that anything with threaded fittings is NOT considered clean in place-able, but I am trying to make a system that is ALMOST clean in place. Also- these valves are not the easy to take apart variety (don't know if they come apart at all- but assume they do with a lot of force). If I can't get them open, is it acceptable practice to just throw them in the oven and cook at 450 for 2 hours, which is what I do with my hopback and chiller?

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Old 02-21-2011, 07:20 AM   #2
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AFAIK 3 way valves are avoided in industry because they are notoriuos for passing and a PITA to service. Why not use normal 2 port 3 piece valves (for ease of removal from the hard plumb system). The front could be done with 3x valves and the rear with 2. I also think 2 port valve look much nicer but thats just my opinion

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Old 02-22-2011, 01:56 AM   #3
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I didn't know 3 way valves were frowned upon. Whoops. Would it be better to go with butterfly valves rather than ball valves since (at least I have read) they don't collect any crud?

As far as you know, is it considered dangerous to have permanent runs of threaded piping that don't get taken apart as long as they are sanitized between runs and as long as you recirculate boiling wort through them, or am I setting myself up for disaster?

I see there was a huge earthquake where you are. Hope everything is OK with you.

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Old 02-22-2011, 02:21 AM   #4
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Thanks for the thoughts, I am in the North Island well away from the quake but got some freind who are a couple hours out of Christchurch and they are a bit shaken but hopefully nothing else.
I wouldn't say 3way valves were frowned upon for every application just that every fitter I have talked to would hate me if I spec'd them. I haven't seen a butterfly valve smaller than 1", doesn't mean they are not out there though. Someone with more knowledge will probably correct me . Also of the butterfly valves I have seen they have all been wafer style so you would need flanges to mount them between.
If you do go 3way, use some mac unions to help make disassembly easier.

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Old 02-22-2011, 02:43 AM   #5
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Glad things are OK with you. Yeah, unions would probably be a good solution... don't know why I didn't think of that perhaps because I have never actually seen how they work or used one). And now that I look at it, it seems silly to have the 3rd valve on the rear side, when it is just going up to another hose barb.... its HOSE, afterall... it can go to either the kettle or the fermentor with a mere lifting it out and moving it. No reason to have 2 different outlets and it would make sanitation much easier.

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Old 02-22-2011, 03:31 AM   #6
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Personally I "think" you will be fine. If you recirc for 15 minutes during the boil any potential bacteria would be killed. My post-boil cleaning procedure is identical to yours and I have yet to have a problem, even though I should take off the pump head and visually inspect it.

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