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Keg/Carboy Washer

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caspio

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It looks like the keg washer I put together is catching some interest in the sanke fermenter thread, so I thought I'd post up a quick build log.

I can't claim originality on this idea. I ran across several threads on HBT and other sites that got the wheels turning. Here's one, and another, and another.

I started with a 525GPH pond pump. I originally purchased this to pump icewater through my chiller. I ended up deciding that it just wasn't worth the extra work or cost of ice, so the pump just sat around. As usual, I was cruising HBT and saw someone post up a cool project. I realized I had just about everything, so I gave it a go.


My only concern when I bought the pump was that it had an adapter for garden hose hookup. Thankfully, without the adapter the pump had standard 1/2" pipe threads. Since I already had some 1/2" PVC, that made my life easier. In this case, the bottom of the sprayer simply screws onto the fitting on the pump. The pump is more than heavy enough to be stable.


I used a 4 way 1/2" cross to split the output. The left and right hand sides are small stubs with 1/2" pipe thread to 1/4" nipples for hooking up hose. These go to grey and black ball lock connectors for when the cleaner is used on kegs. That way the PBW can be pumped through the dip tubes, meaning a full disassembly isn't required as often.


Another shot of the threaded adapter and disconnect


Moving straight up out of the cross is a long piece ending in a 1/2" pvc cap. I started with one hole straight up and 4 pointing out the sides. From there I ran the cleaner on a carboy to see the spray pattern, and then added more holes as necessary. PVC is soft, so it's easy to drill straight in (right angle to surface) and then move the drill to angle the hole. As you'll notice in this picture and the one of the 4 way cross, this long section of PVC is not cemented in with the blue glue. Although the current height works perfectly for carboys, 5 and 15 gallon kegs, I wanted to make it easy to use a shorter or longer piece for any future cleaning products.


you'll also notice the sanding marks around the edge of the cap - when purchased, the cap had 4 vertical ridges on it to make it easier to grip with pliers and work with. Unfortunately, those little ridges meant the 1/2" cap didn't fit into the mouth of a carboy. A flap wheel on my drill made short work of that problem.

Lastly, I cut a hole in the lid of one of my 5 gallon "homer" buckets. As you can see below, it works perfectly for resting the carboy stand on the top of the lid. If I'm cleaning a corny or 15 gallon keg, I remove the white carboy stand and the keg rests right on top of the orange lid.


Anyway, that's pretty much it. The cleaner works really well and I'm glad it's a project I undertook. Even the most crusted, dried on carboy will come clean in no time. The excellent cleaning power is really important, because lately I've been fermenting in unmodified 15.5 gallon kegs. This setup makes sure every tiny bit of nasty is removed, even from the areas I can't see.

A couple of interesting notes about the setup. First off, PBW is most effective when it's HOT, something like 130 or 140 degrees. I fill the bucket (3-3.5 gallons) straight from the faucet on my water heater. Unfortunately, this time of year I can only clean 2-3 really dirty items before the solution gets down to room temperature. That's ok, it just takes a lot longer. Whats bad is when it gets even colder. Once the solution drops down into the 60's or 50's, it foams like you wouldn't believe. This can be a pain, because it means you have to turn it off and let a carboy sit for a few hours for it all to drain out. Also, it's possible for the foam to overflow the bucket. Anyway, it's more of a minor annoyance, and during the summer it shouldn't be a problem.

Next up: like I said before, it's a good idea to not glue the 1/2" cap on. This cleaner will dislodge material that PBW can't dissolve, which means that the small holes in the spray cap will get gunked up and require cleaning from time to time.

Lastly: For those who aren't familiar with it, PBW is a cleaner, NOT a no-rinse sanitizer. This means that after removal from the carboy cleaner, the vessel will need 2-3 good rinses with hot clean water to remove any remaining residue. Then, prior to use, the vessel will need sanitation using iodophor, starsan, or other sanitizer of your choice. Usually after the hot water rinse, I mix up half a gallon of starsan solution in the vessel, cap it with foil, and give it a good shake to coat all surfaces. Then the starsan stays in the vessel until it's needed as a fermenter or keg. It gets another good shake to re-coat and sanitize everything, and then the sanitizer is dumped out and I fill the vessel.


Whew, that became pretty long winded. Anyway, let me know suggestions, questions, etc.

Edit: realized I did the pictoral and not the parts list.
pond or other submersible pump of your choice - either one with 1/2" threaded output, or the appropriate adapters
1x 1/2" pvc cross. I could only find one with slip fit on all four sides, but I'm pretty sure they make some that have two slip fit and two threaded. If you find one like that, it cuts down the next item
3x 1/2" pvc slip fit to 1/2" female pipe thread. One for the pump connection and two for your keg disconnect hoses
2x 1/2" nylon male pipe thread to male barbed adapter
1x 1/2" pvc end cap
?x 1/2" pvc pipe - I eyeballed everything based on the bucket I used and the vessels I wanted to clean. You figure out what's best for you
1x orange home depot bucket and lid

Other items include PVC blue glue, two short pieces of 1/4" kegerator hose, and the quick disconnects
 

nebben

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Do you ever have problems with the drilled cap being loosely pressed onto the PVC pipe? Does that pond pump ever dislodge it?

I could see putting a garden hose adapter on this same type of setup for easy/quick rinsing too.

Cool idea- thanks for the writeup!
 

Munsoned

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I did something similar. The only problem I've run into is the fact that the PVC I used is almost as wide as my carboy neck opening, so the water fills the carboy faster than it empties, which is definitely a problem. I installed a valve on the outflow from the pump to try to reduce the speed of the water going up into the carboy, but it still makes me nervous. So, I use it mostly for kegs these days...
 
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caspio

caspio

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Do you ever have problems with the drilled cap being loosely pressed onto the PVC pipe? Does that pond pump ever dislodge it?

I could see putting a garden hose adapter on this same type of setup for easy/quick rinsing too.
Actually, I had to use channel lock pliers just to get the cap on. It seems like a really snug fit.

I'm hanging onto the garden hose adapter that came with the pump just in case, although I don't know what I'll ever need it for.

I did something similar. The only problem I've run into is the fact that the PVC I used is almost as wide as my carboy neck opening, so the water fills the carboy faster than it empties, which is definitely a problem. I installed a valve on the outflow from the pump to try to reduce the speed of the water going up into the carboy, but it still makes me nervous. So, I use it mostly for kegs these days...
What diameter PVC did you use and how powerful is your pump? Mine usually has 2-3 cups of liquid that builds up, but at that point it seals up and prevents any air from getting out. The only time it gets more full than that is when the liquid gets cold and the pbw foams everywhere.
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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Thanks for the idea...I've shamelessly ripped it off! :D Mine is almost exactly the same build, but I just did a single 1/2" pipe with a spray tip rather than the T at the bottom. Doesn't have the QD attachments, but I think I'll add those later.



320gph pond pump
1/2"x16" PVC pipe, pre-threaded on both ends
Adjustable riser (not really necessary)
1/2" PVC threaded cap

Took about 10 minutes to build, and worth every penny.

 

ThoughtPolice

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I'm glad I came across this, as I just got a hold on a 1/2bbl sanke that I'm going to ferment in.
This will do a hard job in an easy way. Was kinda worried about not being able to see in there. Getting a mirror/flashlight working inside a small hole would be tough!
Thanks!
 

jeffmeh

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I built one of these yesterday, based upon this design:

http://www.slobrewer.com/howto/kegcarboy-washer/

It worked great for a better bottle and my corny kegs. I have not tried a Winpak yet, as both of mine are currently full. :)

I recirculated hot oxyclean solution, then hosed everything down, then recirculated clean water. Rather than recirculate Star San, I just used the spray bottle on the carboy, and used a keg jumper to put some into the corny kegs, and shook.

I do store a small amount of Star San solution in the carboys and kegs, then check the pH and sanitize again, if necessary, when I am ready to use them.
 

matiasek

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Does anyone preheat your cleaning solutions before running through the pump? Hot PBW is so much more effective than room temp, but many of these pumps are not designed for greater than 95 or sometimes 120F I found out after looking into pumps. Perhaps the heat is not necessary when you have so much agitation. Currently for cleaning kegs, I fill with hot PBW (150F) then drop a small bilge pump into the keg. the pump connects to both quick disconnects to clean out the insides of the keg posts. The pump is not that strong but it is a nice gentle recir over about 20 min.
 

JonW

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I came upon the temp issue this week myself. I bought a sump pump at Harbor Freight and when I got it home to start putting things together, I saw the pump labeled for max 77 degrees! Many of the other pumps they had said 95 degrees.

I know one of the build threads I looked at said that running the pump for 45 minutes caused the PBW solution to heat to 130 degrees.

Any good suggestions for high output pumps that can withstand up to 150+ degrees?

I have 12 cornies I need to clean and I'd like to build one of these ASAP!!
 

matiasek

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Any good suggestions for high output pumps that can withstand up to 150+ degrees?
I second the question! Are people running these pumps hotter than they are spec'd for... and getting away with it? That would be good info as well.
 

trigger

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So I built one of these with the harbor freight clean water sump pump. I don't preheat the water, just fill the bucket with cold hose water and add my pbw. I plug it in and let it go, and about 20 mins later the keg/carboy is sparkling and the wash water is around 100 deg. It doesn't get much warmer than that for me, but I have the black Pacific Hydrostar 98342 1/4 hp clean water pump from harbor freight in it. A couple weeks ago I washed 2 kegs and 2 carboys back to back with the same pbw water, the pump was probably running for close to 2 hours nearly continuously without a hiccup (the carboyshad some seriously nasty krausen stuck to them).

On a side note, the local dollar store has some oxyclean stuff that's dishwasher safe and foams a lot less than pbw. I noticed that my carboys had some issues running pbw because the foam didn't want to drain out, so I tried the dollar store stuff. It cleans just as well, costs less, and doesn't foam as much. I'm not sure how it would do with copper/brass, so I only use it on the carboys, but it seems to be ok so far.
 

JonW

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That's the one I just took back! The label (English side) said max 77 degrees, but the label on the French side said 95 degrees.

trigger - how long have you been using that pump?
 

trigger

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I think I built the thing in June or July, so not too long. If I had to guess it's got 20 individual washes on it now. I got it because it looked exactly like the one that the LHBS has in their keg washer, and theirs sees some serious usage. I can't really comment on the long term durability of mine, though.
 

JonW

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For the price, I think I'll go back and get this to one to try it out then. I was concerned about the temps, because this keg washing link ( http://www.aleiens.com/profiles/blogs/carboy-and-keg-washer ) said that water at 70 degrees was heated to 130 in 90 minutes. That may just be a function of his pump though. I will routinely run mine for 90 minutes based on how many kegs I clean.
 

matiasek

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Caspion, which pump did you use? I am concerned about getting a pump that is not rated for the warmer temps that you use. Many pumps are not rated above 100F. Do you have a thermo stable pump or does it appear to operate at higher temps than specified for.
thanks,
Mike
 

matiasek

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For other folks following this thread; I just stumbled accross this writeup on a carboy/keg washer: http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/Heated-Keg-and-Carboy-Cleaner

he comments on the temp limitations of his pump. The specs for it are only rated up to 104 but he says the temp shutoff mech does not come on till 160F. Seems like the 130-150F range is fair game. Hope this helps others.
 
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caspio

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Wow, looks like this thread managed to revive itself. My apologies for not responding sooner, I've been wasting what free time I have on mountain biking forums lately.

To follow up on all the heat questions. I always filled the bucket directly from the spigot on my hot water heater. I've never bothered to measure the actual temp.

Unfortunately, my incredible laziness has finally caught up with me. On at least 4 occasions, I left the cleaner running for over a week, and on uncounted occasions it ran for 30+ hours. After a bit over a year of use and abuse, this has finally been enough to kill it. It was working fine, I unplugged it for a few days, and when I went back to use it again it was dead.

Considering how careless I was with it, I'd say it held up surprisingly well. Now I just need to figure out what pump to buy as a replacement.
 

matiasek

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I bought the pump described in the link I posted in #17, it is a waterace R6S 1/6 HP submersible pump. Seems like it might be up for the job based on his experience. I plan to not let it run longer than a couple hours at a time and hopefully at around 130F. I have not had a chance to use it let but I will let you know how it worked. I scored the pump on ebay for 34 bucks including shipping.
 

FireDancer

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Carboys are not made like a Pyrex measuring cup. It might be best to heat the carboy slowly or not at all. Rapid, uneven heating can make glass crack. Especially in cold weather. My friend broke his carboy just this week by dumping in hot water from the tap (and this was in California ... not that cold out). Luckily there was no injury to him. Just something to keep in mind.
 

EZFrag

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I've been trying to build one of these, but been having troubles cause our local Lowes sux. No helpful employees there. As i was purchasing the pipes, I noticed that pvc is rated for use at 79 degreess or less. CPVC is rated for hot water, but is sized different.
 

wilmh

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After just washing my keg last night and having my wife complain about the mess in the laundry room, I'll be building one of these ASAP!
 

DakotaRules

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I made a new one of these out of copper so I can heat it in my boil kettle. It works great to keep an oxyclean mix at 160 degrees.
 

cmuench

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Is anyone using one of these to clean sankey kegs? If so can you post pics?

If the vertical tube is 1/2-3/4in pipe why would any water go up the smaller diameter tubes with the QDs on them?:confused:
 

dstar26t

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I use sankes and built a washer for them. 1/6 hp pump and a rotating spray ball from McMaster (71445T84). That is the smallest pump I would use.









[ame]http://youtu.be/nPNThLQxxL0[/ame]
 

millaj92

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I made one of these with a 1/4 hp submersible pump I got from Tractor Supply for $60. I use hot water right out of my sink with the PBW for washing and I know that whatever temp that is it's well over the spec of the pump, but I haven't had any problems. I was also worried about the temp of the hot water on the room temp carboys. I was thinking a gradual increase in temp would be necessary since carboys aren't tempered, but I was a little drunk and decided to try it and no problems. The water temp cools down pretty quick so that probably is a factor. I haven't ever measured temps, but if the pump heats up the water than that's even better. Of course PBW still cleans in room temp water, but I was shooting for no foam and it works great. I don't have to run it for more than a few minutes ever when cleaning carboys, kegs, or BK before they're squeaky clean, unlike a lot of people that do a 30 minute CIP. This may contribute to the life of the pump so far. They key to keep water from building up inside of the vessel you're washing is of course to use the smallest diameter pipe you can. I use 1/2" CPVC and not drill too many holes so that you're output is greater than the drain rate. Experimentation is necessary.
 
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caspio

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Is anyone using one of these to clean sankey kegs? If so can you post pics?

If the vertical tube is 1/2-3/4in pipe why would any water go up the smaller diameter tubes with the QDs on them?:confused:
I actually sold the majority of my carboys and do my fermenting in two sanke kegs. I put the cross low enough so that it's just inside the bucket. That way I just rest a sanke keg inverted right on top of the bucket and it works great.

Regarding the question with the smaller lines - the cap with holes or CIP sprayball or whatever you decide to put up top creates enough backpressure to give more than adequate flow down the secondary lines. I did a test run where I forgot to put on one of the QDs (leaving a bare mfl end) and it shot cleaning water all over the garage.

Anyway I use the same cleaner for everything. Corny kegs get the QDs hooked up, and I just let the lines dangle inside the bucket when doing sanke kegs. The check valves built into the QDs keep any pressure from being wasted that direction when they're not actually hooked up.
 

ocluke

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I use sankes and built a washer for them. 1/6 hp pump and a rotating spray ball from McMaster (71445T84). That is the smallest pump I would use.

Keg/carboy washer - YouTube
I purchased this CIP nozzle assuming that was a carboy you were washing, and therefore the nozzle would fit inside it. It doesn't fit in either my 5 or 6.5 gallon carboys. Can you help shed some light on this? Thanks.
 

dstar26t

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I've used it on the older Mexican and newer Italian 6.5 gallon carboys. Some times you have to find the right spot to fit it in since the carboys don't have a perfectly round opening. You may have to shave off the molding seam around the perimeter of the spray ball.
 

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I was thing of building one of these and was thinking, after reading this forum, does it matter if the pipe is rated for the right heat? One would be post-rinsing these anyway and doing a simple sanitizer after PBW or oxyclean.

Also I found this very cheap 1000gph pump for 25 bucks. Wy buy a more expensive pump of this? I understand durability but might just try this today unless someone can point out a good reason not to try it. Unless I get lazy and just buy the more beer one.

On further review I see the above mentioned pump is a 12 v dc so it. Would likely be a pain....
Thanks, ryan
 

Mpavlik22

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So I made on of these today. I got a 325gph pump first and it didn't have enough balls so I went n got a 550gph and the thing works awesome. Great for carboys. I added a gas and liquid ball lock for kegs. I've cleaned 6 kegs in a hour that would normally take me 3 times as long. This things rocks!!!!

image-2965061725.jpg
 
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caspio

caspio

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Wow, this thing is great! I just bought a 620 gph pump from harbor freight (http://www.harborfreight.com/620-gph-submersible-fountain-pump-68393.html) It's on sale for $35 now. I cleaned my sanke keg fermenters and a corny keg already. Total cost was $40 (pump, homer bucket lid, and 3/4" pvc parts)! Cleaning the sanke makes this thing well worth it.
Let us know how the pump holds up. That one is about half the price of what I've got, so when I inevitably forget to turn it off before going out of town and burn it out, yours might be a good replacement.
 

Brew-ta-sauraus

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So I made on of these today. I got a 325gph pump first and it didn't have enough balls so I went n got a 550gph and the thing works awesome. Great for carboys. I added a gas and liquid ball lock for kegs. I've cleaned 6 kegs in a hour that would normally take me 3 times as long. This things rocks!!!!
What pump did you use?
 

Brew-ta-sauraus

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I would like to build one of these in the near future. Obviously the most expensive part is the pump. Any one source a cheap pump that will work well for this application?
 

HawkATP

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I've cleaned about 20 corny kegs and 6 sanke kegs so far with no problems with my harbor freight pump I linked above. $35 and still trucking!
 

Brew-ta-sauraus

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I've cleaned about 20 corny kegs and 6 sanke kegs so far with no problems with my harbor freight pump I linked above. $35 and still trucking!
How did you connect from the pump to your pvc that runs up into your keg/Carboy? Pics showing this would be great. Your pump is cheap but I don't know how I can attach to my PVC pipe and have it still be secure enough to stick inside & was a keg.
 
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