Cleaning Ball Valves

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Rich711

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Hi,

So I always take my Ball Valves apart to clean them between brew sessions. I was wondering, if when taking my ball valves apart, should I take them all the way apart including the handle and stem that turns the ball in the valve. I have never seen this done in ball valve disassembly videos?

Rich
 
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It depends how anal you are and where in your system they are.

If they are on the cold/fermenter side,then make sure they are clean and sanitized for sure. I wouldn’t bother removing the handle unless your valve needs that to get the inside clean. If it doesn’t touch the wort it’s less critical.

On the hot side taking things apart every session is overkill IMO. I take mine apart every couple months, but rinse them in the 1/4 open position to try to flush out any residual wort in there every session. I figure that whatever is in there is going to get boiled, so it won’t be a critical problem. I’m only concerned if there is enough nasty stuff to be tasted in my beer. If I rinsed well last time, the amount of stuff inside that valve shouldn’t be very much.
 

ChrisfromAbby

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I've NEVER cleaned my ball-valves other than to run some Oxyclean/TSP through the whole system. Like, 5-6years at least.
Until today.
Yeeesh....

I was pulling a few things apart as I swap over to electric, and thought, "what the hell let's get at those valves too...". I'd heard some say they only use the 3-part ball-valves because they wanted to be able to clean everything. Well, the only 3-parter I have is on the outflow from the MLT. It was the worst. Gooey bits of brown moldy nastiness hanging off the ball. Blehh!
I actually found the 2-piece valves easier to disassemble and clean than the 3-piece.
Still trying to figure how to properly clean the MLT drain tube. Might make my own specially purposed Bore-snake for this. :)
I may be performing this part of my cleaning regimen more frequently now, but will my beers loose "character"?
 

IslandLizard

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On the hot side taking things apart every session is overkill IMO.
Kettle valves can harbor sludge and bugs. Even boiling wort and close proximity to a burner won't kill everything inside. I've seen/tasted proof of that.
Pediococcus seems darn hardy, she can leave her lovely telltale buttery flavor in your beer when it gets infected on the way out.

After each brew, I leave the kettle valves in place and clean them by spraying water through from each end while turning the handle so the ball-chamber get flushed out well. Also run a 1/2" or 3/4" brush through them. I then leave the valve in 45° position (half open) so she can dry inside.

Every 5-10 brews they get taken apart, haven't found much hiding inside since using that method above. Sometimes there's a little bit of a dark streak inside.
 

Jayjay1976

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After every third batch I boil some PBW in about 2 gallons of water, then I recirculate it through my cfc while slowly actuating each valve ~15-20 times. 50+ batches without a single infection, guess I'm doing something right. PBW and StarSan, it's all you need.
 

Deadalus

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I've NEVER cleaned my ball-valves other than to run some Oxyclean/TSP through the whole system. Like, 5-6years at least.
Until today.
Yeeesh....

I was pulling a few things apart as I swap over to electric, and thought, "what the hell let's get at those valves too...". I'd heard some say they only use the 3-part ball-valves because they wanted to be able to clean everything. Well, the only 3-parter I have is on the outflow from the MLT. It was the worst. Gooey bits of brown moldy nastiness hanging off the ball. Blehh!
I actually found the 2-piece valves easier to disassemble and clean than the 3-piece.
Still trying to figure how to properly clean the MLT drain tube. Might make my own specially purposed Bore-snake for this. :)
I may be performing this part of my cleaning regimen more frequently now, but will my beers loose "character"?
I have a small diameter flexible brush I use for dip tubes. It's fairly long and meant for cleaning hydration bladder tubing. It works well but is perhaps a little smaller than I would like. Might depend on if your dip tube opening faces I have a union on mine so it comes off.

I run PBW through the BK, therminator, and Herms coil the end of each session, then Starsan. I am due for a breakdown of the valves though to see how that's been doing.

I like the idea to change the valve positioning. I will try that out!
 

Birrofilo

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I consider and treat the kettle ball valve as part of the cold side, because that's where my wort will pass through after having being cooled down: I use an immersion chiller so my "cold side" begins in the kettle. The tap will not be sanitized during the boiling phase because the cold side of it will not reach boiling temperature.

When I clean my kettle, I use hot water and a little dish detergent and I take care that the cold water and detergent passes through the ball valve.

When, occasionally, I do a PBW run, I also make it run through the tap.

After any brew I dismount the ball valve from the kettle (not the ball valve constituents from each other) and I clean the thread, and the nut on the other side. Threads is where dirt easily collects. I mostly use hot water and soap and if I want to sanitize the tap I put it in the microwave oven inside a bowl full of water for 1 minute.

That water is hot is important to me not because hot water in itself sanitizes (it doesn't) but because it makes the cleaning action of the soap much more effective. I think "clean goes a long way" and I rely, for that, on hot soapy water with abundant hot water rinse. I use 70°C or 75°C hot water to recirculate through the AIO kettle, so that I can clean the pump and the inner tubings properly. I also use hot water from the tap to clean by hands small parts.

Disassembling of the tap is something that I do rarely, but cleaning of the threads is something that I do after every session.

I never sanitize after a brewing session, because I find this useless. I only sanitize before a brewing session.
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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Hot water definitely sanitizes. Hence autoclaves. Just depends how hot for how long...

In spite of the disgusting goo I found, I've never actually had an infection. I started brewing in '84 ;-)
Even went through a phase of using only hot tap water and detergent to "sanitize" my equipment. That was pre-Star San though.
These days I do in fact run hot cleaning solution through my whole system after each brew. Often for an hour or more. Then Star-San or iodophore.
The remaining debris was just a surprise.
As a once professor is quoted - "it is possible to sterilize dog ****, however it is impossible to make it clean."
I've had shall we say, more than a few, courses on microbiology and sanitization and sterilization. I doubt the offending goo caused any problems, it's just aesthetically unpleasing!

OK I'm playing loose with the truth. Autoclaves use steam which actually STERILIZE. Sanitzation refers to removing the majority of the nastiness, but is not sterilization. I'm a big fan of competitive inhibition. If I worked for Maccrobrew Inc, I might actually want equipment sterilized, but personally if a brew lasts 2 months in my keezer there's something wrong with it that is likely more to do with the recipe than the equipment.
 
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