DIY Carboy/Keg Cleaner

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Adeering

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I made my own carboy/keg cleaner a few weeks ago and decided to post on here the instructions. Real simple build that took me maybe an hour total:

Supplies Needed:
1- 5 gal bucket with lid
1- submersible pump with 1/4 hp or more (some use 1/6 but I find thats a little weak to do the kegs)
PVC piping
PVC Glue
2- 1/2" threaded to 1/4" barb
2- 3-4' of tubing
1- set of keg connectors either ball or pin
1- carboy dryer



Tools Needed:
PVC cutter or hack saw works good
Drill with small - medium bits

Steps:
Build the pipes. This depends on your pump, but my pump had the output at the top, slightly offset buy not enough to matter so I built a straight pipe. Some pumps are at the bottom and have seen similar designs with a bend to put the pipe out the top. Heres a pick of the final product minus the barbs (those are in the mail)

- What you are going to do is get a female threaded PVC connector that fits your pump, mine was a 1-1/4" for the threads
- Connect that piece to a adapter down to 1/2" PVC pipe.
- Now I didnt need anything extra here but you might need extra pipes to get the next section above your pump.
-Connect a 1/2" cross to the end and then a straight 1/2" by mines about 15" long, didnt measure just stuck the carboy on and marked where i needed, you want it about 4" below your shortest carboy/keg when on the stand, on the opposite cross output
- Put a cap on the end of the pipe
- on the two horizontal put a 1/2" female threaded connected and then attache the two barb adaptors
- Next set up your system with your carboy on there and get an item where your trub line from fermentation will be and drill a series of small holes we did 1/8" around the pvc pip about 2" long on the pipe slightly higher than the trub line(this allows a range and gravity will pull water down some by the time it gets to the walls so you want to go about an inch above)


- drill a four hole pattern with a fifth hole in the middle on the top cap, make the middle hole bigger I think we did 1/4"
- attach lines to barbs and the disconnects and that parts done

-Next cut a hole about 3" in diameter in the middle of the bucket lid, also cut a hole big enough for the power cord on the edge of the lid and two holes big enough for the disconnects on the side as well.


The setup:
Pump in bucket, pipe on pump, fill with water/cleaning solution/sanitizing solution, put lid on, put carboy dryer on for carboys put carboy/keg on upside down, connect keg connectors if needed, plug in pump.



The water will shoot up through the pipe and connectors if they are connected and clean the container. As you run it the water will heat up some as its cooling the pump. Also it may take a little bit to get all the trub, but for plastic carboys its better than scrubbing. Hope this helps
 
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Adeering

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really worthless without video, well maybe when I transfer my lager to my secondary Ill video tape the cleaner working....though for a similar build and where i got the idea from look here:


This is not mine, but this is what I used to get the idea from and as a reference
 
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mendozer

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so no scrubbing needed for kegs? What's the difference from letting it soak then?
 
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Adeering

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No scrubbing for carboys or kegs, for soak time not needed, just run the machine for like ten minutes (longer if there is a nasty krausen)

Also great for brew day for sanitizing your equipment put all the little stuff in the bucket with the sanitizer and the carboy on top, run it for a few minutes and let it sit sealed up ready to go until you need it
 
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Adeering

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The pump was 40 everything else was probably another 20, as for water use it recycles the water so I usually do around 2 gallons, depending on amount of gunk in it, I usually do a quick rinse to get the loose stuff out to keep the water cleaner
 

mendozer

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oh so you fill the bucket up with water/cleaner and just let it go until the gunk os off or the water is too dirty? I like that connector idea from the video, clean the in/out posts too.

After using this, I'm guessing you still sanitize and lube up o-rings or do you do that before filling it up next time?

also, where did you get that pump? i can't find one for $40
 

mendozer

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So if you store it sanitized u still resanitize it again before fermenting? Also is a sump pump needed? I've seen diys on pond pumps with at least 500gph
 
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Adeering

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Depends on how its stored and how long, for a couple hours sealed, no I dont resanitize, but I never sanitize before the day of use as you are asking for problems

Pond pumps and sump pumps are pretty much the same thing if I remember correctly, you want a submersible pump or you are going to have to put input and output lines, but should still work
 

fuzzybierdo

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So.... I'm new to all this. Still trying to get all my equipment together before the first batch. I thought to myself that a carboy washer would definitely come in handy, and I really like this design, as I already own a pump plus looks real easy to build. With all that aside, what sanitizer solution do you use? I have buddies who brew, and they swear by the Star san, which i plan on getting anyway. But, doesn't that stuff get foamy?
 
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Adeering

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Yeah star san gets foamy, they have a low foam version which i use, but the iodophor actually foams less, I use both and just watch for too much foam when sanitizing. When cleaning its not a problem
 

mendozer

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When setting up my cleaner, i had foam pouring out of the bucket down the way. no big deal for me, but for those doing it indoors, it might be. I had mine going into the gas and liquid lines for a full cleaning. One round of oxyclean, one round of starsan. Both are very foamy, FYI
 

fuzzybierdo

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Cool, thanks!!! Every bit of info helps. Thanks for getting back to me. Love this site.
 

divi2323

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The gallons per hour doesnt come into play. I made my own and I'd be shocked if you can get 1300 gallons through a half inch pipe. Remember that you're drilling holes in the pipe to restrict and generate pressure. A few gallons per minute is all you need to be effective.

If you're building one of these to scrub grime off of your carboys, you'll be a little disappointed. They are great for sterilizing equipment but you'll never be able to scrub grime off without a little elbow grease.

They are nice because you can flip it on and let it run while doing other things.
 
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Adeering

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If you're building one of these to scrub grime off of your carboys, you'll be a little disappointed. They are great for sterilizing equipment but you'll never be able to scrub grime off without a little elbow grease.

They are nice because you can flip it on and let it run while doing other things.
False, Im going to have to disagree, as the original poster and using this every week when I brew or when empty a keg I have no problem using this instead of a carboy brush to clean my carboys. Fill it up with some water and oxyclean and let it run for 10-30 min depending on level of soil and it has never not come clean.

Now if you have months of grime dried on it might need a soak for a while first, but it is plenty powerful to clean
 

divi2323

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Adeering said:
False, Im going to have to disagree, as the original poster and using this every week when I brew or when empty a keg I have no problem using this instead of a carboy brush to clean my carboys. Fill it up with some water and oxyclean and let it run for 10-30 min depending on level of soil and it has never not come clean.

Now if you have months of grime dried on it might need a soak for a while first, but it is plenty powerful to clean
I'll revise my statement.... Caked on grime from letting a carboy sit will have trouble coming off. A freshly emptied and rinsed carboy is fine even with a bunch of gunk chunks will rinse out fine.
 

mendozer

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bringing the thread back for a question.

i made a similar design and love it. I was thinking of making a separate "wand" with 1/4" pipe to clean bottles, both wine and beer. This would be screwed onto the pump threads with the necessary adapter.

what do you think? will the skinny pipe hold the pressure?
 
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Adeering

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The skinny pipe wont have a problem holding the pressure, as the amount of pressure it feels is relatively low. However, whatever attachement you are using to start and stop the flow on the end of wand and how you attached it does matter.
 

mendozer

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well the attachment will be just like the keg cleaner piece, but smaller bottles. only difference will be the size and the fact that I have keg posts on the side of my keg attachment.
 

Wesjmc

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I'm thinking about getting that same pump for this use as well as to feed ice water through my IC chiller. Is the flow of the pump adjustable? I have the hose clamps pretty tight on my chiller, but with enough pressure it has leaked into my wort before.

Great thread. Thanks for all the info!
 

sigmund

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I'm thinking about getting that same pump for this use as well as to feed ice water through my IC chiller. Is the flow of the pump adjustable? I have the hose clamps pretty tight on my chiller, but with enough pressure it has leaked into my wort before.

Great thread. Thanks for all the info!
Just put a valve in line to control flow if you think there may be an issue. I use my cleaner to run PBW through my CFC and it's not an issue, i have a valve in line to restrict flow but I found it wasn't required.
 

mendozer

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my $.02

I also made a simple bottle wand for doing wine and beer bottles. 1/2" CPVC for the pipe and a 1" to 1/2" reducer that's threaded, also CPVC. 2 parts and it screws right onto the sump pumps port (double check your model's size, may be 3/4").
 

rshortt

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I just build one of these and have some thoughts and a question. I'm going to put a quick disconnect of some sort near the top of the vertical pipe so I can swap out attachments like a spray ball (diy), bottle cleaner, and ball lock post for cleaning my beer lines.

Also, do you guys pump star san with this? I did and it foamed up so much it made it hard to pump.
 

jmccraney

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Also, do you guys pump star san with this? I did and it foamed up so much it made it hard to pump.
In case someone else stumbles across this thread like I did, there are low-foam, no-rinse sanitizers like Saniclean (another Five Star product) made for clean-in-place systems like this. I haven't built mine yet, but that's what I plan to use.
 

Markolomew

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Question: So I built one of these Key/Carboy washers, but I'm having a weird problem that I haven't seen anyone else mention. When I'm trying to wash a keg, I attached the Gas/Liquid Ball lock to the keg, but due to the angle the hose comes out of the Gas/Liquid Ball Locks, it won't allow the keg to sit flush on the 4"-to-3" rubber hose coupler. This makes the keg really wobbly, and have to stick stuff under it just to try to stabilize it. I'm thinking this issue might be that the Gas/Liquid ball locks I'm using are the type that unscrew into pieces, rather than the ball lock with fitting already attached. This adds about an extra 1/4" to 1/2" to ball lock fitting...so maybe it's causing the hose angle to be greater. Regardless, anyone have any suggestions? In the photo, notice the gap that is caused between the handles of the keg and the bucket lid.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.39.16 PM.png
 

Markolomew

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here's 2 more photos of the ball lock fittings and the angle of the hose that is an issue once the keg fittings are connected. Please help!

IMG_20150208_154614.jpg


IMG_20150208_154650.jpg
 

helterscelter

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When setting up my cleaner, i had foam pouring out of the bucket down the way. no big deal for me, but for those doing it indoors, it might be. I had mine going into the gas and liquid lines for a full cleaning. One round of oxyclean, one round of starsan. Both are very foamy, FYI
I also have substantial foaming when using oxy and/or pbw. Did you find a way to reduce the foam at all? When I run my washer I have foam covering the driveway and eventually run out of liquid in the bucket.
 

jmccraney

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Question: So I built one of these Key/Carboy washers, but I'm having a weird problem that I haven't seen anyone else mention. When I'm trying to wash a keg, I attached the Gas/Liquid Ball lock to the keg, but due to the angle the hose comes out of the Gas/Liquid Ball Locks, it won't allow the keg to sit flush on the 4"-to-3" rubber hose coupler.
I got around this just by cutting holes in the bucket kid so the disconnects drop right through. It's not as elegant, as the toilet flange but worked for me.
 

jmccraney

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I also have substantial foaming when using oxy and/or pbw. Did you find a way to reduce the foam at all? When I run my washer I have foam covering the driveway and eventually run out of liquid in the bucket.
Supposedly pbw doesn't foam up over, like 110F (details on their website). You can also try a different type of cleaner, my friend who owns a winery recommends alconox. Personally I just mix up a big batch of oxi clean and let it foam, so I haven't tried these suggestions myself.
 

Markolomew

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. I had similar clearance issues, which I fixed with a toilet flange.
This is actually a GREAT idea. I went out and put up two flanges today, along with some nuts/bolts to lock the flange down to the bucket lid. I'll probably put a little food-grade, aquarium silicone on the inside of the lid over the parts of the bolts just to make sure the seal stays good and it doesn't corrode. I'm sure it's overkill, but i still have some left over so why not.

I use PBW as well and it foams like mad. Maybe the temp is the issue. I'll try it with colder water than normal and see if that is a factor.

happy brewing....
 

Markolomew

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. I had similar clearance issues, which I fixed with a toilet flange. This allowed me to adjust the height of the rubber boot. Didn't have a full sized corney handy to take pics, but you get the idea.
So I just added the flange and noticed it does not make a flush seal with the bucket lid. How are you keeping this from leaking?
 

helterscelter

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So I just added the flange and noticed it does not make a flush seal with the bucket lid. How are you keeping this from leaking?
Pics? the flange is just bolted through the lid, just like it would be through a floor. I cut a hole big enough for the flange to fit through then bolted it to the lid using the retaining ring. My rubber reducer is clamped tightly onto the flange.

I'll see about taking some closeups later today.
 

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