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A DIY Keg Line Cleaning Solution

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I want to start off by saying that there are so many awesome articles on HomeBrewTalk, written by homebrewers like myself, that are incredibly helpful and show the extreme level of ingenuity we bring to this hobby. That said, this article may not be as technical or as creative as some (or even most), but if it can help a few fellow homebrewers out, then it is well worth it. So let's begin.
One of the most important things (if not THE most important thing) in homebrewing is sanitation, whether at the fermenting stage, the bottling/kegging stage, or the serving/dispensing stage. It is at the dispensing stage that I found myself looking for an easier and cheaper DIY solution to a problem that many of us keggers face: keg-line cleaning.
There are several solutions to this already from some ingenious people, and some are quite cheap, but I thought it could be easier and cheaper still. My issue was that I did not want to purchase extra equipment with only one use, and one infrequently needed at that. I looked into DIY keg-line cleaning solutions, and found two common solutions that each had good ideas, but weren't quite optimal for me.
The first solution was to utilize a hand pump fitted with keg post connections to flush the lines.
Then someone took that idea a step further by replacing the hand-pump with a submersible pump system. Both are great ideas and effective solutions, but also both leaving the user with equipment with a singular and often infrequent use. But what if you already had nearly everything you needed for these types of systems in your brewing equipment arsenal?
When I first started kegging, I convinced SWMBO that I needed a piece of equipment that I realistically could have done without, but it has made life easier (for brewing anyways), and has now become even more useful by re-purposing as part of my keg-line cleaning system. I bought a Mark II keg and carboy washer. I have loved it since the day I bought it, being able to let a carboy sanitize while working on other parts of my brew day. Knowing that I can walk away and do other brew-day tasks while things are getting cleaned, I feel that it is a great piece of equipment that every home brewer should have.
So now going back the the two noted designs, I decided to make use of the pump and post from the keg/carboy washer and let it pull double duty as my keg line cleaner. There a many different ways that it can be connected to your system. The easiest and cheapest (if you use barbed disconnects) is just using the hose barb attachment that comes with the Mark II for connecting to keg posts, and slipping the keg line off the liquid disconnect and onto the cleaner. Alternatively, you can use a threaded adapter (if you use threaded disconnects) to attach the 1/4" threaded connector to the 1/2" Mark II post. Or you can do what I did, which was to buy a 3/8" keg post and a threaded adapter to mate it to the 1/2" Mark II post.

Keg post I used, which can be found here.

Threaded adapter I used. You can find it here.

Post connected to adapter with pipe tape.
Once you have figured out your preferred connection method, it is only a matter of putting the pump into a bucket of cleaner under the keg faucet of the line to be cleaned, connecting the line to the pump, opening the faucet, and plugging the pump in. I let it cycle for 15 minutes with cleaner, then an additional 15 minutes with clean water. It works wonderfully, and best of all the only additional equipment required was a keg post and adapter. Depending on what type of kegs you use and the post threads they have, you could get away without even having to buy a new post, instead opting to borrow one from an empty keg. All in all the only part of this setup that might not be considered cheap is the Mark II washer, though in my opinion it really pays for itself.

System in Action!
 
I made this a couple weeks ago and it ROCKS!! I also use this on the beer line for my beer gun. If you have kegs, this is a must build!
 
I suppose if you already had the pump/keg cleaner gizmo, modding it like this is cool...
When I'm ready to clean lines though, I just put the cleaning solution in a corney and push the solution through the system. After this, I usually run hot water through, and then a quick hit of StarSan. Not only do I get clean lines, I have a cleaned and sanitized keg ready to go as well!
I suppose this "wastes" CO2, but I find it very easy and convenient...
 
@BroStefan I use the BLC Beer Line Cleaner. http://www.midwestsupplies.com/blc-beer-line-cleaner.html
You don't need a lot of it so the bottle should last a while.
 
I can't post a picture here, but there are stainless steel carbonation caps with a barb on the back that work well for this application. Here is a link to homebrewfinds that has a picture of what I mean: http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2015/01/stainless-steel-carbonation-caps-for-pet-bottles-or-draft-line-cleaning-pump.html
 
@JohnnyO it is here
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Watts-3-8-in-x-1-2-in-Lead-Free-Brass-Flare-x-FIP-Coupling-LFA-177/203468376?keyword=lfa-177
was linked originally, will see if Austin can update that
 
@biochemedic
i wanted to avoid wasting co2, but also you can use less cleaner this way and let it cycle indefinitely unattended. I let this run while soaking the keg with PBW.
 
I've been doing what biochemedic does for about 4 years without issue. I use oxyclean for my cleaner. Such a small amount of CO2 is used, it costs pennies.
"When I'm ready to clean lines though, I just put the cleaning solution in a corney and push the solution through the system. After this, I usually run hot water through, and then a quick hit of StarSan. Not only do I get clean lines, I have a cleaned and sanitized keg ready to go as well!"
 
Very nice! I did something very similar except I bought a cheap pond pump from Harbor Freight for less than $10 and use it to circulate the cleaning solution, usually BLC but sometimes PBW. Works like a tick.
 
This would also work and you can use it with a 6mm plastic line and for other purpose as well
http://kegking.com.au/bottles-and-bottling-equipment/carbonation-cap-line-cleaning-cap-counter-pressure-filler.html
 
@biochemedic This is pretty much what I do as well, minus the hot water part, as I have read hot water can cause problems with beer lines where they cave in/kink due to the heat and then don't reform properly. This can cause bacteria to build up in these little pockets.
 
Nice idea.
I didn't have that keg cleaning thing so I picked up a small submersible pump for a few bucks off amazon and adapted it like you did.
It works just like yours.
Thanks for the article.
 
I have a similar setup except in reverse!
I take a 1/2 silicone tube from the barb fitting on the pump and attach the end directly to my perlick faucet... then I attach the keg post thingy to the end of my beer line (keeping the ball lock connector OPEN) then I just drop the end of the beer line connector into the bucket... less parts!
 
You have inspired me to create an easy line cleaning setup with things I already own. I do not have a Mark II. But, coincidentally, I have a small 12V bilge pump fitted with a standard garden hose connector. If I buy a threaded adapter and post, I instantly have a similar, easy to use and cheap setup! Thanks!
 
I really should buy a keg and carboy cleaner, I been at this long enough you'd think I would have one already
 
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