Cheap, easy, effective beer line cleaner
This topic has been covered before, a couple of different ways but I think I've refined it to make it cheaper, easier and better.
Credit where credit is due: My first beer line cleaner was the exact setup in this thread. However, it was a pain to pump constantly, refilling the sprayer, draining, YAWN... Then I got the idea for continuous recirculation from homebrewfinds. However, I think that build is unnecessarily complex and expensive. My adaptation follows:
We start with a corny keg liquid post from your choice of vendor (or just borrow one from a spare keg you have laying around.) I used the one I had bought when I made the pump sprayer listed above. These connect to a 3/8" male flare thread (use teflon thread tape).
Then you will get this 3/8" male flare to 3/8 MPT elbow (an elbow allows you to rotate your connection for easier direction than a straight connection. I bought mine from Sears Hardware for $1.79
Then add this 3/8" FPT to 3/8" hose barb adapter. (ditto as to source, cost $1.89)
Buy this cheap-ass ($6.99) 158 GPM pond pump from harbor freight. This pump has 5/16" or 1/2" outlet sizes. If you want to pay more for higher GPM if you have super-long lines with higher resistance, go for it. I have 6 or 7 foot lines and you can see my flow speed below. *OTHER PUMPS MAY WORK but I put this package together based on the outlet size on the pump. Vary from this with consideration as to your hose barb size on the adapter listed above.*
You will need about 2 inches of 3/8" ID hose (braided vinyl, high temp hose - doesn't matter. I bought a foot of braided hose before I realized I had some leftover from my cooler mash tun conversion)
You will also need about 1/2 inch length of 5/16" ID x 7/16" vinyl tubing standard racking tubing)
The reason you need that 1/2 inch length of tubing is that you can use it to 'bridge' the diameter gap between the 3/8" barb and the 5/16 pump outlet. First put the stub of 5/16" tubing on the pump outlet. Then, heat up the 3/8 tubing (for pliability) in some boiled water and force that bitch over the 5/16 tubing that is already on the pump outlet. I found I did not need hose clamps on either end of the 3/8" tubing. Maybe if it stretches over time, I will have to replace or clamp the 2 inches of hose.
Here is the finished build:
OPTIONAL - a standard barbed corny keg liquid disconnect. I had several left over after upgrading all of my 7 taps to the threaded 1/4" flare connection type disconnects. The reason to use one is to help with quickly priming the pump. Just connect your spare liquid disconnect and rotate it so the barb is pointing down into your reservoir (I use a 2-quart pyrex measuring cup since I can throw an ounce of BLC in there and be very close to the awkward 2/5 ounce per quart recommended BLC dilution) and run your pump for a few seconds to prime the pump.
Then turn off the pump and swap this spare disconnect for the beer line you want to clean. Don't forget to open the faucet for the line you're cleaning so it drains into the BLC reservoir.
Video below shows it in use. I went away and left it for about 15 mins: slight foam but no mess and CLEAN BEER LINES!
Plug in and recirculate BLC for a while, then dump and repeat with rinse water and/or Sani-clean (for lower foaming versus star-san.)
My cost was
The rest I had laying around.
The build over at Homebrewfinds runs $34.83 (not counting the things I left out of my total above because I already had them. Just trying to be fair.)
Awesome DIY work. I will be building one soon.
Yawn, really???? ;-)
Love the design!!
This is a great idea, I use a similar setup except I clean two lines at once... I connect use a piece of 1/2" tubing and slip one end over one faucet and the other end over another faucet, and then use a duplicate spare liquid post to hook up to the quick disconnect from the 2nd line and drop that into my bucket with cleaning solution... It recirculates through the entire system and cleans two lines at once.... I may eventually try to rig up some sort of splitter to split the flow off the pump and then I could clean 4 lines at once, which would be pretty sweet.
Oh, I see, so your two lines are being cleaned simultaneously but with the flow through the line being opposite between them? Out of one the normal direction of beer flow, and then back into the other, opposite the normal direction?
That sounds cool, though I don't know what kind of flow this pump would provide through that much line. In the video on the original post, the pump is set at maximum.
But hey, on another thread, I learned that BLC is just hydrated PBW per the 5-star website. So I'll never buy BLC again!
Yes, you are correct that the flow in the line connected directly to the pump is the same direction as normal beer flow, and then the flow in the 2nd line is reversed since the solution enters the faucet and exits the disconnect.... As far as pump power, I have a decent pond pump that I got at Home Depot, it has enough power to pump water through a 50' immersion chiller...
I like this. I now have the pump sprayers, but it a little bit on a PITA. It will be nice to have the pump in one bucket that you just refill with whatever solution you would like...BLC, water, StarSan. I'll let you know how it turns out, but nice DIY. Thanks!
How were you able to get a disconnect attached to the 3/8'' threads? I went to my local homebrew shop and both the cornelius and firestone ball lock posts would not fit. Do you just force it on and mess up the threads? I suppose that wouldn't be bad because from then on it would just always be a keg line cleaner. Do you guys also not use on a poppit since there is nothing to support it from falling through like on a keg?
I have a firestone pin-lock post and it works. The fittings shown in the OP's photos should get you there. The flare fitting extends up into the post and allows the poppet legs to rest of the top of the flare fitting.
Great post.. BUT, I guess I'm blind.. I don't see a link to the video you mentioned in the OP
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