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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Use steam??? Read this.
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Old 04-25-2010, 01:23 PM   #1
clintopher
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Default Use steam??? Read this.

I've been searching on the board the last few days learning all I can before my first brew. In my searches I stumbled across a couple threads that describe a DIY approach to using steam for a heat source. I only found two references to pressures used in the vessel and both were 15 psi.

I work for a company that assembles and repairs safety valves for anything from a Mom and Pop operation boiler to 4000 psi boilers at power plants. I'm not completely up to speed on the NBIB and ASME codes but 15 psi is the magic number where coded valves are required. The code may not apply to vessels under a certain size, like the 5 gallon keg I read about, but I'm not sure. Just to be on the safe side though I'd STRONGLY RECOMMEND backing the pressure off to 14.5 psi and here's why. If you blow your house up and the insurance company determines the cause and more importantly that you were using node code equipment in a coded application the claim will be denied.
Like I said, I'm not intimate with the code so I'm not certain that it applies to vessels under a certain size but why chance it for .5 psi.

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Old 04-25-2010, 02:03 PM   #2
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Considering the residential home pressure cookers you can buy at Wal-Mart are 15psi, it's pretty damn unlikely A: you're going to "blow up" your house, and B: insurance would have an issue with a claim.

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Old 04-25-2010, 02:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkarp View Post
Considering the residential home pressure cookers you can buy at Wal-Mart are 15psi, it's pretty damn unlikely A: you're going to "blow up" your house, and B: insurance would have an issue with a claim.
Don't those cookers have a pressure release?
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Old 04-25-2010, 02:48 PM   #4
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Here is a nice example of what could happen with a boiler mishap in the garage with a keg size boiler

.
And here is one on a bit larger scale
.
This is why I use a flash boiler that only holds a couple ounces of water and runs with no backpressure. I will let you draw your own conclusions about the merits of using pressure cookers and kegs for steam generators in brewing applications, IMHO it looks like a ticket to the darwin awards to me.
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Old 04-25-2010, 02:51 PM   #5
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I use steam, usually at 10-12 psi. The amount of energy stored is absolutely amazing. However, I don't feel at risk for an accident. I have a 20 psi blow off valve, and I constantly monitor temperature and pressure. All of my boiler's parts are rated to 120 psi or greater.

kladue...really? ...really?! I watched those episodes of Mythbusters. It took several hundred psi with water over 300° F to burst those tanks. Those of us using steam are well advised to use care and caution. However, a blow off valve and proper regulation negate any possibility of dire consequence.

This whole thread seems a bit alarmist...

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Old 04-25-2010, 03:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkarp View Post
Considering the residential home pressure cookers you can buy at Wal-Mart are 15psi, it's pretty damn unlikely A: you're going to "blow up" your house, and B: insurance would have an issue with a claim.
The pressure cookers you buy are ASME stamped, as is every domestic hot water heater. At least mine are. Every pressure cooker, as it is direct-fired, should have a stamp on it and be designed to ASME code. As others have indicated, yes, they have pressure reliefs on them, in fact, redundant ones.
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Old 04-25-2010, 05:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkarp View Post
Considering the residential home pressure cookers you can buy at Wal-Mart are 15psi, it's pretty damn unlikely A: you're going to "blow up" your house, and B: insurance would have an issue with a claim.
I don't see pressure cookers being an issue since they're code stamped. I was referring to homemade vessels. I won't speculate on how much energy can be stored in a 5 gallon keg, and perhaps "blowing up the house" was a bit extreme. But it would be naive at best to think an insurance company wouldn't deny a claim on property damage, medical liability, or whatever that resulted from the negligent use of a non code vessel.

The point of me creating this thread wasn't to start anything so hopefully nobody took it as such. I just wanted people to be aware of possible consequences and to know an alternative (running at 14.5 psi) to negate them. The main thing is be safe.

On another note, it wouldn't be a bad idea to intentionally overpressure your vessel every once in a while to ensure the valve operates correctly. To make it easy you can use compressed air. The valve will lift a little heavier on air than steam because of the temperature difference...maybe a degree or two. The difference may not be noticeable with a lower quality gauge.
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Old 04-25-2010, 08:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clintopher View Post
I don't see pressure cookers being an issue since they're code stamped. I was referring to homemade vessels. I won't speculate on how much energy can be stored in a 5 gallon keg, and perhaps "blowing up the house" was a bit extreme. But it would be naive at best to think an insurance company wouldn't deny a claim on property damage, medical liability, or whatever that resulted from the negligent use of a non code vessel.

The point of me creating this thread wasn't to start anything so hopefully nobody took it as such. I just wanted people to be aware of possible consequences and to know an alternative (running at 14.5 psi) to negate them. The main thing is be safe.

On another note, it wouldn't be a bad idea to intentionally overpressure your vessel every once in a while to ensure the valve operates correctly. To make it easy you can use compressed air. The valve will lift a little heavier on air than steam because of the temperature difference...maybe a degree or two. The difference may not be noticeable with a lower quality gauge.
I wouldn't be too worried about it. I personally have read a number of threads where people have recommended doing something that I deemed dangerous without a second thought to the consequences. I personally would rather see someone be alarmist and make someone think twice before attempting something instead of having a cavalier post saying don't worry about it and have someone do something regretable. There are too many on here who throw caution to the wind for a simple hobby. To me it's not worth it. Let the questioner hear both sides and decide for themselves.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:37 PM   #9
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corny kegs are rated for 130 psi.

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Old 04-26-2010, 09:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clintopher View Post
I don't see pressure cookers being an issue since they're code stamped. I was referring to homemade vessels. I won't speculate on how much energy can be stored in a 5 gallon keg, and perhaps "blowing up the house" was a bit extreme. But it would be naive at best to think an insurance company wouldn't deny a claim on property damage, medical liability, or whatever that resulted from the negligent use of a non code vessel.

The point of me creating this thread wasn't to start anything so hopefully nobody took it as such. I just wanted people to be aware of possible consequences and to know an alternative (running at 14.5 psi) to negate them. The main thing is be safe.

On another note, it wouldn't be a bad idea to intentionally overpressure your vessel every once in a while to ensure the valve operates correctly. To make it easy you can use compressed air. The valve will lift a little heavier on air than steam because of the temperature difference...maybe a degree or two. The difference may not be noticeable with a lower quality gauge.
Why do you think an insurance company would deny a claim because of negligence? Most fires are due to negligence. Overloading an outlet or leaving candles untended near curtains are both negligent behavior that I KNOW insurance companies pay claims for. Insurance companies also pay for accidents caused by negligent driving etc. Why do you believe this would not be the case if someone was dumb enough to overpressure a 5 gallon keg?
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