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Old 07-02-2011, 04:20 AM   #1
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Default Keg/Carboy Washer

Recently I started kegging my beer because I hated cleaning all those bottles. After two batches, I realized that cleaning a keg sucks just as bad as cleaning bottles. So I went on a quest, searching the internet, looking for something that would make this dredful task easier. I found a site selling a keg washer, but it cost around $170 plus shipping. I also found a good article on www.slobrew.com that took me step through step on how to build my own. So I thought I would share my build with you guys.

Parts List
1/4HP sump pump
5 Gallon bucket
PVC primer and glue
10' of 1/4" ID vinyl hose
Teflon tape
4' of 1/2" PVC pipe
1/2" 90 degree street elbow
1/2" ball valve
1/2" cap
6 hose clamps
1/2" felmale adapter
1/2" tee
3/4" coupling
1/2" male adapter
1/4" barbed tee
1/4"x1/2" barbed MIP
2 ball disconnects

I used a hack saw to cut the PVC pipe and a drill with a 1/8" drill bit to drill the holes in the PVC pipe.
Grand Total $99.97 plus tax

The build only took me about an hour. I threw some PBW in the bucket, filled it with hot water, and let the thing run for about 20 minutes.
I cut out the bottom of a milk crate I had laying around the house and used it to hold the kegs. Works perfect. It will hold my carboy too. The washer isn't prettiest thing ever, but let me tell you, my kegs are the cleanest they have ever been. They look brand new inside.

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Old 07-02-2011, 10:20 AM   #2
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This is one of my goals after I get settled in my new house. I had planned to us a plastic garage-style deep sink with a repurpased dishwasher assembly as was done in some other threads. How powerful is the sump-pump idea? Could you post a video of it washing a clear carboy? Nicely done and thanks for the parts list!

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Old 07-02-2011, 02:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewBrewB
This is one of my goals after I get settled in my new house. I had planned to us a plastic garage-style deep sink with a repurpased dishwasher assembly as was done in some other threads. How powerful is the sump-pump idea? Could you post a video of it washing a clear carboy? Nicely done and thanks for the parts list!
The pump isn't over powerful buy it gets the job done. I definitely would use anything smaller than a 1/4 HP. I'll try and get a video up on Monday. Both my carboys are in use right now.
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:16 PM   #4
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You know, you can get something that you connect to your drill, and simply spin inside the keg/carboy to clean it for far less, right? You simply use a bit of PBW solution, or cleaner of your choice, in the keg/carboy, insert the tool on the drill into the keg/carboy, and spin it for a bit (<60 seconds typically does it). Then drain, rinse, and move on...

I've been using the carboy/keg cleaners for a bit now, and they do a great job. I have one for my corny/slim sanke kegs, and another for the full diameter kegs/carboys. Coupled with my cordless drill, it makes things very easy.

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Old 07-02-2011, 02:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie
You know, you can get something that you connect to your drill, and simply spin inside the keg/carboy to clean it for far less, right? You simply use a bit of PBW solution, or cleaner of your choice, in the keg/carboy, insert the tool on the drill into the keg/carboy, and spin it for a bit (<60 seconds typically does it). Then drain, rinse, and move on...

I've been using the carboy/keg cleaners for a bit now, and they do a great job. I have one for my corny/slim sanke kegs, and another for the full diameter kegs/carboys. Coupled with my cordless drill, it makes things very easy.
Just got one for our anniversary! Cant wait to use it...seems cheaper and easier than the pump/jet systems, but i do admit the latter look pretty bada$$...
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Old 07-02-2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie
You know, you can get something that you connect to your drill, and simply spin inside the keg/carboy to clean it for far less, right? You simply use a bit of PBW solution, or cleaner of your choice, in the keg/carboy, insert the tool on the drill into the keg/carboy, and spin it for a bit (<60 seconds typically does it). Then drain, rinse, and move on...

I've been using the carboy/keg cleaners for a bit now, and they do a great job. I have one for my corny/slim sanke kegs, and another for the full diameter kegs/carboys. Coupled with my cordless drill, it makes things very easy.
I've seen those. They look like they work great for carboys. The only downside I can see is that you still have to strip down the keg. This is what I was trying to avoid. I like being able to hook my keg up and walk away. It's just my preference. Not saying it's the best way, but it works for me.
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Old 07-02-2011, 05:27 PM   #7
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Yeah, the kegs will be tougher, but i only break down my kegs every 5 batches or so

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Old 07-02-2011, 05:48 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hawgwild81 View Post
I've seen those. They look like they work great for carboys. The only downside I can see is that you still have to strip down the keg. This is what I was trying to avoid. I like being able to hook my keg up and walk away. It's just my preference. Not saying it's the best way, but it works for me.
I had a similar sump pump setup that I used for about 2 years with no problems. Then one day a seal blew inside the pump and all the internal machine oil went thru 2 of my kegs.





Now I use the aforementioned Keg/Carboy cleaner that attaches to the end of a drill and uses very little water. It takes just a minute or 2 extra to remove the posts, poppets, dip tubes and pressure relief valves and soak them in a small container of PBW or Oxi.

I was exactly as you about cleaning my kegs. Set it and forget it. This is really easier for me as I don't have to rinse/clean my sup pump, lines etc. With the cleaner that hooks to my drill it's just a good rinse as it is with the kegs.

You will enjoy your setup, just be prepared that one day you may have a blown seal and an oily mess on your hands and a ton of time cleaning the kegs that got all the oil in them.
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Old 07-02-2011, 06:15 PM   #9
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My sanke fermenters are easy... Nothing to remove on them, since it's already done before I ferment (I just use the large universal bung and airlock)... For corny kegs, I don't see it as an issue. You should clean at least the liquid tube between fillings. To remove the posts, tubes, give them a soak in PBW/oxy while you clean the body of the keg isn't much of an issue to me. The gas tube should be easy, since it's above the brew.

Maybe it's because I'm using 2.5 and 3 gallon kegs right now that it seems like a zero issue to pull them apart to clean. The newer ones I picked up even have in/out stamped next to the relative posts. Makes it a 'no-brainer' to get that right.

As Yambor44 mentioned, you have a major cleanup lurking over you when using a pump. Granted, it might be years away, but it's still there. Using the drill attached cleaners makes the failure a zero impact on the keg/process. Well, other than needing to get a new drill if you burn out the one you use. Chances of that happening is more remote, IMO. I'm glad I have the cordless drill that I do, since I use it to power my Barley Crusher, as well as keg cleaners. I'm using it more than I would have otherwise, charging the batteries more, which means they get used more and not discharge just from sitting for X months between uses.

Either way, I would pick up one of the cleaners so that you have it for when you need to switch. IMO, trying to save a few minutes worth of work cleaning the kegs was more than offset by the expense, and time, it took to make the pump driven cleaner. I simply clean my kegs as they need it, so that it's easy to keep on top of it. If I had dozens of kegs to clean, I'd probably look for a more efficient way to do it. As it stands, I only have a handful for serving, and only 8 (or 9 if you count the corny that can be used for either) for fermenting/aging of brew.

I cleaned three sanke kegs the other night... I used a few gallons of water to rinse each once they were cleaned with about a gallon of PBW in them. I've found that if I rinse them well, when emptying them, I can even reuse the PBW solution between kegs. I wasn't able to do that with the solution from two of the kegs.

BTW, the sprayer from the kitchen sink does a damned good job of rinsing out kegs. I typically use that first, then the PBW solution and keg cleaner... If I do that, then I can reuse the PBW solution between kegs...

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Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:35 AM   #10
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For us down south this set up is great as it can also be used for cooling water.

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