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Old 04-28-2009, 02:56 AM   #1
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Default My RIMS... The Good, bad and ugly

I've been putting together a RIMS and all electric brewing system. Finally got to try it out on Saturday. Easiest brew day I ever had. Made 10 gallons of Helles lager. What a sweet system.
Then came Sunday. The brew club was doing a 50 gallon batch of Hefeweizen and wanted to try it. We hooked it up, I explained how it worked and I went and did some other beer chores. Then someone yelled "I smell ozone". We looked at the temp, it was 148. We looked at the wort returning to the mash tun. It had smoke coming out of the hose. I noticed the RIMS (it's made of PVC) was laying on it's side. I told the boys to keep the output up to get rid of air bubbles. I moved it and burned my hands it was so hot. It then started to melt!!!
Well needless to say we had to dump 50 gallons of beer and about 100 lbs of grain. We started over and brewed the beer until 6:30 PM (we started at 7:30 AM).
Oh well, looks like I can now make one out of stainless steel...

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Old 04-28-2009, 04:05 AM   #2
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Ouch! Sorry to hear about that. It's bad to have to dump a big batch like that, but the embarrassment was probably much worse. Hope your burns aren't too severe.

You can make the return out of cpvc which has a much higer temp rating. I'm using it without problems. Yes, regular pvc turns into a wet noodle when it encouters even moderate heat.

You might not need to resort to all SS for your RIMS piping. You could use hoses instead as many others do.

Be thankful no one was injured (majorly anyway). You have just learned a heap. There will be more leaning ahead I am sure. There was for me!

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Old 04-28-2009, 04:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Poobah58 View Post
I've been putting together a RIMS and all electric brewing system....We looked at the temp, it was 148. We looked at the wort returning to the mash tun. It had smoke coming out of the hose. I noticed the RIMS (it's made of PVC) was laying on it's side...It then started to melt!!!

Oh well, looks like I can now make one out of stainless steel...
I don't believe using stainless steel will "fix" your problem. The heating element inside the RIMS heat exchanger is clearly super-heating the wort (evidenced by the smoke).

The temperature of the returning wort should never get much above (e.g., +6 degrees) the target mash temperature. So, CPVC should be more than adequate.

Do you have a temperature sensor inside the heat exchanger? And, are you using a PID/SSR combo to control the heating element?
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:40 AM   #4
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The smoke was the PVC burning. My element is a 1500W/120V ULD. The sensor is on the output (was reading 148F) and I am using a control/SSR combo. Should work OK as long as its submerged! The PVC worked great the previous day. I think laying on its side caused an air bubble and the element got super hot and started to melt the PVC. The element is curved and was only a fraction of an inch from the PVC wall anyway. Once it started to melt, it was ballgame when the PVC hit the element...

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Old 04-28-2009, 10:47 AM   #5
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I ordered stainless last night. This will not happen again!

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Old 04-28-2009, 12:05 PM   #6
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50 gals lost is a HUGE bummer. I nearly cried when I had to dump 10 gals right after I brewed it. Sorry to hear, but hopefully you'll get the kinks worked out w/ the SS bits.

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Old 04-28-2009, 12:09 PM   #7
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Yah, the key point here is that the RIMS heater was on its side, thus creating an air gap in the heater and the heater then was basically uncontrolled.

I agree, SS may not have been necessary as long as you had a suitable way of keeping the RIMS heater upright, but this is a good excuse to go SS!

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Old 04-28-2009, 01:09 PM   #8
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I started with PVC also. You can see it strapped to the leg of the saw horse.



Once you get over sticker shock for the stainless, look at making something like this.

I've made and sold these to quite a few members on this board.

Then make sure you hard mount it to something so the outlet is always up. I am no longer using the plywood platform shown here but it worked well.



I've now located both pumps and both heat exchangers in a 12 x 12 x 12 inch box. I also have all the electronic distribution and controls in the box. On brew day I just set the box on the ground in front of my saw horses, hook up 4 hoses and start brewing.

Linc

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Old 04-28-2009, 10:39 PM   #9
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I priced out a 2" copper Hex and it came out to $95. The SS 304 Hex was $83. Them 2" copper tees are like $37! Yikes...
PS, my rig is setup so the Hex is facing up. The Brew Club setup on the other hand........

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Old 04-29-2009, 12:51 AM   #10
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Going with 2 inch isn't really necessary. 1 inch works just fine. Materials costs me about $50 - $60.

I'd like to see some pictures of your system.

Linc

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