Just wondering what kind of cleaning regiment most folks are using for cleaning ball valves? Is running Star San or PBW through them after brewing sufficient or should they be taken apart and cleaned after each batch brewed?
I scrub my ball valves with a brush (inside) between batches. With 3 piece ball valves you can take them apart without removing them from the kettle/keggle/mash tun pretty easily.
StarSan is a SANITIZER, not a cleaner. I never StarSan my keggles, mash tun, HLT. I do run PBW through them though. Last batch I ran PBW solution through all the fittings/valves in both my keggle and keg mash tun to get them clean. So much easier than trying to scrub them later. I also ran it though the plate chiller to make sure that got properly cleaned.
I find that a faucet brush works great on cleaning out the ball valves inside... I would only take them apart if they're really dirty inside. Or if you have scorching in them.
If you have a pump, you can just recirculate PBW through them for a bit to get them clean. Follow the instructions on the container of PBW and you should be fine. I usually go a little stronger than listed (about 1.25-1.5oz per gallon) with great results. I do like how clean it rinses when you're done.
After every brew I fill the mlt/kettle with cleanser and after a short soak, drain it through the valve. They are usually visually clean at that point, but if I see any residue I use a faucet brush as others have mentioned.
I take the valves apart about every 4 months or so for an overnight soak in PBW/Oxyclean. I just did it before this past weekend's brew actually, and don't think it was necessary. They were very clean inside to begin with.
Uhhh... I run hose water, which is usually pretty cold, through my MLT valve until it seems clean. Hot water and dish soap for my boil kettle, and nothing for my HLT (since only water passes through it). All is always fine.