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Old 01-24-2011, 08:24 PM   #1
Gritsak
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Default My method for sealing a heatstick

I've never been particularly fond of the acetone/JB weld pour into the drainpipe method for sealing off a heatstick element. While JB weld does dry extremely hard, in my experience it doesn't bond well to the surface of the pipe. There's no "give" with JB weld, so if there's any expansion, the bond will break and water/wort could easily leak in. So, i've come up with the following solution that i've had great success with.

First step is to get a 1" pvc coupling. This fits perfectly around the base of the element and just BARELY shoves into the end of the pipe.

Should look like this:



Next trim the isulation around the end of the wire and expose an inch or so of the three wires. Cut the ground (green) flush to the end of the section so the two power wires are exposted. Attach these to the heating element and slip the pvc coupling over the wire. Tape the coupling to the chrome hex nut portion of the element so no JB weld seeps through. Fill up the coupling with JB weld and let cure overnight. It should look like this once you're done:



(Note- this is an older picture, my current build had a taller coupling that wasn't completely filled with JB weld)

Because the end of the drainpipe expands to accept the 1" coupling at the end, you can't simply shove the entire thing in there. So mark off around 3/4" on the pvc coupling like this:



Then cut around with a dremel. Also cut out so sections towards the wire to make removing the piece easier:



Take a flat-head screwdriver and insert it into the long cut and twist- the pcv piece should pop right off. You'll end up with something like this once you clean it up:



Since you still need to attach the ground, mock fit the element and mark off where you want to attach the ground. I always do it at the top so it's easy access. Then splice into the wire and pull out a section of ground (green) wire. remember, pull out the end going TOWARDS the plug!



Sandpaper the section of pvc and inside the end of the pipe. I use DAP 08641 sealant to finish up the job. You DON"T need much. Just run a medium size bead around the inside of the end of the pipe and slide in the element/pvc. Put on the rubber gasket that came with the heating element. Theno run some silicone around the outside where the hex portion of the element contacts the pipe. Should look like this:



Add a small amount of silicone to the threads on the pipe, then screw on the 1.5 to 1.25" slip joint reducer nut. Tighten it down.



Pray you sliced the wire at the correct height and tighten down the ground. Let it cure overnight.

There is absolutely no JB weld or silicone visible from the outside of the heatstick. There are several barriers to keep water out: the rubber o-ring, the sealed threads, and the sealed pvc coupling into the pipe. Last line of defense is the completely encapsulated wiring on the heating element.

Well that's it. Hopefully this makes sense and will help out. Any suggestions would be welcomed. I don't claim this to be the best solution in the world, but it doesn't require any particular skill and all parts are readily available at lowes.

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Old 01-24-2011, 10:21 PM   #2
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It looks great, but is there any concern about the silicone being toxic or anything? I'm not implying it is, just want to be safe.

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Old 01-24-2011, 10:40 PM   #3
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It is safe. The spec sheet on DAP's website lists that no first aid is needed if it is swallowed. It's FDA aproved for food contact after it's cured for 48hrs . Others have called the DAP 1800 number and the representative said it was food safe. Homebrewer's have been using this silicone for awhile--i found out about it after searching around.

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Old 01-25-2011, 05:54 PM   #4
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Gritsak,, Do you have a link to the web site showing the DAP silicone that you used?

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Old 01-25-2011, 08:17 PM   #5
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It's their 100% silicone sealant. If you google DAP food grade you'll find some other threads.

Here is one: http://www.brewboard.com/index.php?showtopic=80636

I got it an Menards

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Old 01-26-2011, 01:46 PM   #6
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I came across this the other day: http://www.highgravitybrew.com/Produ...g-276p3505.htm

It might be a better option than using the o-ring that comes with the heatstick. My original looked completely fine after 15 or so batches, but i'd rather have something 100% silicone.

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Old 02-01-2011, 07:32 PM   #7
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I hate to bring up more controversy than is necessary, but I have been told by the people at DAP (using the 1-888...) number on their products, that they do not have any silicone products that are food safe for prolonged contact, only intermittent contact. I found this out because I couldn't find the same DAP product you had so bought another one, called, and asked. I was told to look at Dow-corning products, but have since found a GE product (from Mcmaster)that i think is food safe. It may be possible that the person I talked to had no clue what she was talking about though.

Thanks for your method though, Gritsak. I had wanted to build a heatstick for a while, but was never confident in other methods. I was confident with yours.

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Old 02-01-2011, 09:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanT View Post
I hate to bring up more controversy than is necessary, but I have been told by the people at DAP (using the 1-888...) number on their products, that they do not have any silicone products that are food safe for prolonged contact, only intermittent contact. I found this out because I couldn't find the same DAP product you had so bought another one, called, and asked. I was told to look at Dow-corning products, but have since found a GE product (from Mcmaster)that i think is food safe. It may be possible that the person I talked to had no clue what she was talking about though.

Thanks for your method though, Gritsak. I had wanted to build a heatstick for a while, but was never confident in other methods. I was confident with yours.
Thanks for the info. There's seems to be quite a bit of contradictory info about the DAP sealant. I'm going to read the package thoroughly next time i'm at Menard's. Until there is 100% confirmation on the DAP stuff, it might be better to order something that clearly states it is safe for constant contact.

For the time being i'm not too worried. There should be very little silicone in actual contact with the wort if it's sealed properly. I made 15+ batches with my first heatstick and i'm not dead, yet
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gritsak View Post
For the time being i'm not too worried. There should be very little silicone in actual contact with the wort if it's sealed properly. I made 15+ batches with my first heatstick and i'm not dead, yet
I agree. If it doesn't kill the fish, it shouldn't kill us I would think. They're smaller, so it would take a lot less. thanks again
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:14 PM   #10
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So i went to Menards today and read the label on the DAP 100% silicone again. It does specifically state that the product is safe for food contact once it's cured. It doesn't say whether it's incidental or prolonged contact, but if it were only approved for incidental you'd think it would spell that out clearly. The info provided is different depending on the size of the containers. e.g. the hand held tube doesn't say anything about food, but the large one that uses a caulk gun does. It's all the same stuff inside though.

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