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Craiginthecorn

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I have just acquired an early model Zymatic which has a sizable crack in the step filter. I know that the conventional wisdom is to seal them with super glue from the outside. That seems a bit difficult here as it is located on the back wall of the grain section, just above the shelf which holds the small mash screen. It's not inaccessible, but access is tight.

A couple of ideas come to mind.

1 - Laminate a thin sheet of Lexan over the area on the inside. You can get sheets as thin as 1/32". There's a good 1/8" space between that wall and the small mash screen to accommodate that additional thickness

1b - I might be able to laminate a sheet on both sides, actually.

2 - I've read that the Z step filters can be modified to fit. Is this correct? If so, are there any actually for sale? I saw them at the time of the auction, but I suspect they've been snatched up now as backups. I see none on eBay at present.

3 - 3rd party option. I've seen the Pico Free being sold for the small units. Is there any equivalent for the Zymatic?

Any thoughts on the practicality of these three options? Any better ideas?

Thanks!

PXL_20210117_193723420.jpg
 
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Trevor Mack

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The Pico-free isn't a "step filter" made from Polycarbonate, but rather a filter insert (shaped like a picopak). There currently isn't at mold for the step filters and this is the single most problematic issue I see for the future.

There was talk from the main assembly line worker from Picobrew saying they were able to modify the Z filter to work with a Zymatic and that was why some of the "strange" structure at the bottom of the filter... But has since gone silent (no idea why, but could understand wanting to put that hurtful company experience and culture behind and move on!)

Finding a way to fix with a food safe high temp solution to me is your best choice (cheapest and most likely available). I haven't out too much thought into what could be used reliably though.
 

Craiginthecorn

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The Pico-free isn't a "step filter" made from Polycarbonate, but rather a filter insert (shaped like a picopak). There currently isn't at mold for the step filters and this is the single most problematic issue I see for the future.

There was talk from the main assembly line worker from Picobrew saying they were able to modify the Z filter to work with a Zymatic and that was why some of the "strange" structure at the bottom of the filter... But has since gone silent (no idea why, but could understand wanting to put that hurtful company experience and culture behind and move on!)

Finding a way to fix with a food safe high temp solution to me is your best choice (cheapest and most likely available). I haven't out too much thought into what could be used reliably though.
Ahh, I see. Oh well. Scratch that option.

I've been looking at food safe adhesives for acrylic and although it's actually quite toxic during application, Weld-on 3 is a solvent which actually melts the surfaces of the pieces being mated, then evaporates. Seems like it has potential to either fix the crack or bond the second layer. Apparently, one way to keep the crack from growing is to drill a tiny hole at each end. Of course, that would need to be covered or filled, too.
 

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Whatever you end up trying definitely come back with lessons learned or how the process went for you as if is only a matter of time unt the next is in the same boat.
 

Craiginthecorn

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Whatever you end up trying definitely come back with lessons learned or how the process went for you as if is only a matter of time unt the next is in the same boat.
Will definitely pay it forward,. having already benefited from others who have shared their hard-earned knowledge.
 

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Someone just uploaded this to the Facebook group for converting a Z step filter to be compatible with the Zymatic. Photos kinda suck, but hey better than nothing.

At the end are "packing" instructions that look to be how these would have been packaged to ship.
 

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Craiginthecorn

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Someone just uploaded this to the Facebook group for converting a Z step filter to be compatible with the Zymatic. Photos kinda suck, but hey better than nothing.

At the end are "packing" instructions that look to be how these would have been packaged to ship.
Thanks Trevor. Yes, it was shared in reply to a post that I had made about my issue. I should have thought to share it here for those not in that Facebook group. Thanks for doing that, Trevor.
 

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@Mike Howard - Hi Mike, new user and can't message directly. I am headed towards needed to fix my glycol in my Zy as fatal error 1 is becoming more common on initial heat up. Would appreciate your instructions. Thanks.
 

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Someone just uploaded this to the Facebook group for converting a Z step filter to be compatible with the Zymatic. Photos kinda suck, but hey better than nothing.

At the end are "packing" instructions that look to be how these would have been packaged to ship.
I bought one, right before Picobrew folded. This is exactly how it arrived at my house.
 

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Ahh, I see. Oh well. Scratch that option.

I've been looking at food safe adhesives for acrylic and although it's actually quite toxic during application, Weld-on 3 is a solvent which actually melts the surfaces of the pieces being mated, then evaporates. Seems like it has potential to either fix the crack or bond the second layer. Apparently, one way to keep the crack from growing is to drill a tiny hole at each end. Of course, that would need to be covered or filled, too.
Have you thought about JB Water Weld? It’s drinking water safe.
 

Craiginthecorn

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Have you thought about JB Water Weld? It’s drinking water safe.
Interesting. Might be good as a filler if I end up drilling holes to stop cracks from growing. It's a putty, so it's quite thick. Good to know that it's safe!

I have an update on the Weld-On 3. It seems to have worked pretty well. It's water thin and evaporates in maybe 30 seconds leaving a clear finish. Since it chemically melts the polycarbonate, you can see where the solvent was applied after it evaporates, even though it's crystal clear. I can't tell how far the capillary action pulls the solvent into the cracks, but the leaking has stopped.

Finally, let me add to the chorus of thanks to Mike Howard, who sent me his glycol top-up procedure instructions. Although it's not trivial, it's not super hard and Mike's instructions are very detailed with good photos. My Fatal Error#1 has been eliminated for now.

One thing I wonder is that if the glycol mixture is evaporating, what part, chemically-speaking, is evaporating? If water, then we should top-up with water. Or more importantly, if it's the glycol, then we should top-up with undiluted glycol. I used the mixture suggested by Mike.

Finally, a thousand thanks to another forum member, Henry, who generously gave me his step filter, which is in far better condition than the one I had. I've been refining my repair methods on the older one before attending to the small crazes in the new one.
 
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Craiginthecorn

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How to avoid Zymatic step filter cracking?

So I understand that using a variety of common brewery cleaners is a sure way to cause cracking in the step filters. I’ve also read allegations, contrary to what Picobrew has publicly stated, that dishwasher detergents and even the cleaning tablets sold by Picobrew contribute to cracking.

Has anyone developed a proven system for cleaning these? Is it simply hand-washing in conventional liquid dishwashing detergent? Or is the dishwasher actually safe for the step filters?

I saw a post earlier by @chagtie in this thread about using a jar in place of the step filter to circulate PBW through the internals, like the pumps, hoses, and RIMS. This strikes me as a great idea. I’m foggy, though, on why the funnel-based solution is superior to the hose-based one and also am unclear on what was meant by the section shown below? Is this a wholly new recipe, or a modification of an existing one?

You simply run a modifid “clean cycle with PBW” on a heated bypass of 150F for 30 minutes, then run a regular rinse with water only.
 
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Craiginthecorn

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this is a follow up from the earlier post (see above)... I believe this is a great solution to be able to deep clean HEX and maintain your Zymatic with PBW or other strong cleaners, without worry of damaging you StepFilter.
One more improvement to this cleaning hack and a warning. I decided to add a tray to contain any liquid in case I make a blunder with the recipe or a hose slips. That was all well and good, but when I had left PBW recirculating through the passthrough, I came home to a large puddle on the floor of my workshop, which fortunately has sheet vinyl over concrete flooring. The sampling port had apparently suffered the same fate as the step filters and had snapped in half, causing cleaning solution to spew out. Gladly, I had used only a gallon of liquid so that I didn't have more liquid than the safety net tray could hold.

PXL_20210131_234046876.jpg

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[/QUOTE]
 

Craiginthecorn

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I don't know how long the pumps ran dry after the sampling port broke because I wasn't around, but the output seems lower now. Is it likely that they were damaged? The actual output on passthrough at the moment is .7l per minute. Well below the pump ratings. I'm not sure how much resistance is designed into the system, though.
 
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TheHygienist

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Help! My recipe list is unstable and I try clicking on the sync button and the recipe list crashes. Anyone else experiencing this? Is this the end of my brewing? got a Z2 delivered last August. I've only brewed on it 6 times.

Nevermind! It was my Edge browser. I switched to Firefox and it works normally now. WHEW, dodged that bullet.
 
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Craiginthecorn

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I don't know how long the pumps ran dry after the sampling port broke because I wasn't around, but the output seems lower now. Is it likely that they were damaged? The actual output on passthrough at the moment is .7l per minute. Well below the pump ratings. I'm not sure how much resistance is designed into the system, though.
I disassembled the pump heads and don't believe that running dry would have done any more damage than was clearly already there. The output pump's actuator (rotating piece attached to the shaft of the motor) was completely rusted,. including the bearing around its perimeter, which turned with significant resistance. I need a new pump. The output pump was clean as a whistle.

Man, this used Zymatic hasn't been worth the series of headaches. I've now had to replace a pump, remove the broken sample port in the output hose, repair significant cracks in the step filter, repair a stepper motor fault, and refill the glycol loop. I'm starting to realize that these things were a good idea with a flawed design. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have gone down this road. But in for a penny, in for a pound.
 

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I replaced my sample port...one of those things that was probably mentioned a long time ago. Someone thought they were a good idea, but as with all things PB...lack of understanding reared its head.

Your pumps will be fine running dry...SeaFlo makes good equipment and those things could probably run dry for days. But for $30 it's an easy replace. Never seen them rust up and they are used in marine environments all the time...
 

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Given I rarely use the sample port for anything other than seeing the "srm" (approx) of what is brewing (also visible via the stepfilter due to residual wort sitting at the bottom) it definitely isn't "needed". If you don't find utility in it definitely when it cracks (or before) simply remove it and use a barbed passthrough in it's place or better yet a barbed 1/4" flare so you can choose to have longer hoses when you want. With a flared approach you can then choose to wire inline a CFC or not based on what you are doing and have space for. In this way truly making a "modular" setup to fit your needs.
 

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I got my zymatic running after help from @Mike Howard on the glycol top-up and instruction from @Trevor Mack on the Pi server. Thanks again guys. However now 5th brew in I sprung a leak at top of the fluid arm.

IMG_2338 copy.jpg


Anyone else run into this issue? Know how to repair or replace the part?

I'm also having periodic issues with the control knob enter function. Scroll works fine but after the machine gets hot pushing the knob doesn't seem to send the enter signal. I suspect this may be resolved with the leak as I guess condensation is inundating the board that runs the control knob.
 

Craiginthecorn

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Your pumps will be fine running dry...SeaFlo makes good equipment and those things could probably run dry for days. But for $30 it's an easy replace. Never seen them rust up and they are used in marine environments all the time...
The part that rusted I don't believe is even supposed to get wet. The cam rotates and alternately depresses a valve at the top of bottom of the head. However it got wet, it was quite corroded. I can't even pull it off the motor shaft, whereas the one on the other pump slips right off. I guess I'm have happy that the problem exists. It's a good explanation for why my grain bin didn't fill completely and it's a cheap fix
 

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I really like my Zymatic over the years but I’ve been having some flow problems as of late. I always ran the recommended cleaning cycles as recommended by PB. I’ve never ran PBW through my system before but despite this, I’ve got a step filter that’s cracked all to hell. Fortunately it’s barely leaking despite never using PBW despite the cracks. I really want a new step filter for this but have been unsuccessful in finding one.:mad: I’ve been looking at some new electric systems to replace the Zymatic but I figured I would try to do some work on the Zymatic first. Here’s how I just ran a PBW cleaning through my system without my step filter. I run a modified brew cycle at 150 f for thirty minutes and dude did it make a difference. Flow rate is back to the way it was when it was new. There was a ton of stuff in the two gallon bucket I used to clean it. It’s probably not the right way to do it but it really worked for me! Now for the never ending search to find a new step filter or a new electric system.
 

Craiginthecorn

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. Here’s how I just ran a PBW cleaning through my system without my step filter. I run a modified brew cycle at 150 f for thirty minutes and dude did it make a difference. Flow rate is back to the way it was when it was new. There was a ton of stuff in the two gallon bucket I used to clean it. It’s probably not the right way to do it but it really worked for me! Now for the never ending search to find a new step filter or a new electric system.
I like your bypass solution! Glad it restored your flow rate. But take note of my recent experience with PBW and the acrylic sampling port. You might want to swap out to a different hose when doing a PBW cleanse.
 

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I like your bypass solution! Glad it restored your flow rate. But take note of my recent experience with PBW and the acrylic sampling port. You might want to swap out to a different hose when doing a PBW cleanse.
Thanks dude! When I saw that sampling port photo I nearly broke down as I know how hard it is finding parts for this unit. Luckily that port can easily be bypassed. Thanks for all your earlier posts as they have been really helpful! I wish there was an easy fix for the step filter. Mines about to break I feel.
 

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I got my zymatic running after help from @Mike Howard on the glycol top-up and instruction from @Trevor Mack on the Pi server. Thanks again guys. However now 5th brew in I sprung a leak at top of the fluid arm.

View attachment 716839

Anyone else run into this issue? Know how to repair or replace the part?

I'm also having periodic issues with the control knob enter function. Scroll works fine but after the machine gets hot pushing the knob doesn't seem to send the enter signal. I suspect this may be resolved with the leak as I guess condensation is inundating the board that runs the control knob.
This is a common problem on the Zymatic but is a fairly easy fix. Tear down the arm with the arm in the Home psoition. Clean everything really well and then reassemble with this lube: Hayes Lubri-Film Plus

Alignment issues can be fixed by going into the Maintenance screen and adjusting the arm while in the BYPASS position.
 

Mike Howard

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Thanks dude! When I saw that sampling port photo I nearly broke down as I know how hard it is finding parts for this unit. Luckily that port can easily be bypassed. Thanks for all your earlier posts as they have been really helpful! I wish there was an easy fix for the step filter. Mines about to break I feel.
If someone really wanted to replace their sample port, Googling "needleless injection luer lock T-port" will get you close to what you are looking for. For me, removing and getting on with brewing was the answer.



 
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Craiginthecorn

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I ordered a pair of pumps. These seem to be shown by Picobrew to pump at a higher rate than the old pumps, based upon handwritten labels, although the new ones seem to be gallons per minute and the old ones in liters per minute.

I have a few questions regarding these pumps, which I believe were intended for the Z series and not necessarily the Zymatic, as the hose barb configuration is different.

1) Should I replace them as a set?

2) Does it matter how much faster the output pump pumps than the input pump? If so, how much differential is allowable? Can this be adjusted, or is the output rate a luck of the draw thing? There's a pressure switch which allegedly is set to 30psi, but I don't think this should affect flow rate.

3) There are some sort of electrical filters just in front of my pumps. I assume they should remain in the circuit after replacing the pumps. Is that correct?
 

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mjc999

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Batch size limits?

I did some searching in this thread and couldn’t find anything definitive on batch size limits. I see someone mention a 4 gal batch and some batch splitting/combining.

I’ve been brewing directly into a (modified) anvil 4 gal fermenter. It works great, fits the standard batch sizes and doesn’t occupy a keg during fermentation. I also have a 7 gal SS Brewtech that I used to use for my larger batches on a biab system. I can certainly modify that to be connectable to the Zymatic. If I were running a low gravity recipe, could I run a 5 gal recipe in a single session or is there a limit on how much water you can start with. It’s not clear what controls the amount of water passing through the step filter at any given time.

thanks,
Mark
 

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I ordered a pair of pumps. These seem to be shown by Picobrew to pump at a higher rate than the old pumps, based upon handwritten labels, although the new ones seem to be gallons per minute and the old ones in liters per minute.

I have a few questions regarding these pumps, which I believe were intended for the Z series and not necessarily the Zymatic, as the hose barb configuration is different.

1) Should I replace them as a set?

2) Does it matter how much faster the output pump pumps than the input pump? If so, how much differential is allowable? Can this be adjusted, or is the output rate a luck of the draw thing? There's a pressure switch which allegedly is set to 30psi, but I don't think this should affect flow rate.

3) There are some sort of electrical filters just in front of my pumps. I assume they should remain in the circuit after replacing the pumps. Is that correct?
This is for a Zymatic, right?

What pump did you get? You should have ordered SEAFLO SFDP1-012-035-21, 4.3lpm/1.2gpm, 12V 1.7a These pumps will work perfectly fine in the Zymatic.

You do not need to replace them as a set, just put the faster pump in the drain position. Same for if you ordered a pair.

Never seen anything like those components in the electrical loop. Can you Google the part numbers and see what you get?
 

Mike Howard

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Batch size limits?

I did some searching in this thread and couldn’t find anything definitive on batch size limits. I see someone mention a 4 gal batch and some batch splitting/combining.

I’ve been brewing directly into a (modified) anvil 4 gal fermenter. It works great, fits the standard batch sizes and doesn’t occupy a keg during fermentation. I also have a 7 gal SS Brewtech that I used to use for my larger batches on a biab system. I can certainly modify that to be connectable to the Zymatic. If I were running a low gravity recipe, could I run a 5 gal recipe in a single session or is there a limit on how much water you can start with. It’s not clear what controls the amount of water passing through the step filter at any given time.

thanks,
Mark
The Zymatic works on an overflow principle with a restrictive drain. This is why they have the rubber drain plugs. As the Step filter grain compartment fills up, a portion will drain through the lower port into the bottom of the Adjunctent chamber and out through the drain port.

If the liquid flowing in surpasses the amount of liquid that is draining through the lower port, it will overflow over the back edge of the grain compartment and into the adjunctent compartment. This is why it is very important to make sure the Zym is level.

You shouldnt have any trouble with extra liquid, but realize that if it does begin to overflow, that liquid is not passing through your grains. You should observe the behavior if this condition occurs because you don't want to overwhelm your drain pump and fill up the adjunct compartment during mash. That shouldn't happen in a perfect world, but you never know.
 

Craiginthecorn

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This is for a Zymatic, right?

What pump did you get? You should have ordered SEAFLO SFDP1-012-035-21, 4.3lpm/1.2gpm, 12V 1.7a These pumps will work perfectly fine in the Zymatic.

You do not need to replace them as a set, just put the faster pump in the drain position. Same for if you ordered a pair.

Never seen anything like those components in the electrical loop. Can you Google the part numbers and see what you get?
I got SFDP1-007-020-21 pumps. These 2.6 lpm pumps appear to be more similar in flow rate to the original 2.5 lpm pumps shown in this photo, but the barbs are removable 90-degree swiveling elbows.

Regarding the small in-line circuit board, the board itself is labeled as "Picobrew © 2015". The two 7110-R components are common mode chokes, which seem to be a little circuit to smooth out surges. There's no part number for the assembly. I'm thinking it's there to limit surges caused by changes in motor demand and is OK to remain.
 

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The Zymatic works on an overflow principle with a restrictive drain. This is why they have the rubber drain plugs. As the Step filter grain compartment fills up, a portion will drain through the lower port into the bottom of the Adjunctent chamber and out through the drain port.

If the liquid flowing in surpasses the amount of liquid that is draining through the lower port, it will overflow over the back edge of the grain compartment and into the adjunctent compartment. This is why it is very important to make sure the Zym is level.

You shouldnt have any trouble with extra liquid, but realize that if it does begin to overflow, that liquid is not passing through your grains. You should observe the behavior if this condition occurs because you don't want to overwhelm your drain pump and fill up the adjunct compartment during mash. That shouldn't happen in a perfect world, but you never know.
Thanks, that’s helpful info.

Do you see any problem with the Zymatic’s ability to heat that volume of water to mash/boil temperatures? Using the Picobrew recipe crafter, a 5 gal recipe calls for 6.1 gal of total water volume.
 

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I got SFDP1-007-020-21 pumps. These 2.6 lpm pumps appear to be more similar in flow rate to the original 2.5 lpm pumps shown in this photo, but the barbs are removable 90-degree swiveling elbows.

Regarding the small in-line circuit board, the board itself is labeled as "Picobrew © 2015". The two 7110-R components are common mode chokes, which seem to be a little circuit to smooth out surges. There's no part number for the assembly. I'm thinking it's there to limit surges caused by changes in motor demand and is OK to remain.
Wow, never seen a pump like that in a Zymatic. But yea you should be fine with that Seaflo. I opted for the slightly larger pumps and have had 0 issues. What is the part number on your power supply for that unit. My thinking is due to the different pumps you may also have a diferent power supply that required that filter. I have two Zymatics and have seen dozens of internal photos of other guys Zyms and have never seen those electronics. You have an older Zymatic I think.
 

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Thanks, that’s helpful info.

Do you see any problem with the Zymatic’s ability to heat that volume of water to mash/boil temperatures? Using the Picobrew recipe crafter, a 5 gal recipe calls for 6.1 gal of total water volume.
Might take a bit longer to reach temps, but I don't see an issue. I've done a couple and I know guys doing 5 gallon batches. You'll just have to try it and see how it works.
 

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As talked about chagtag this "simple" cleaning vessel isn't needed for the newer Z Series devices. There is a proper "passthru" that doesn't involve the step filter at all (touches both drain and keg pumps while also going through the HEX and rotary valve position #5/P).

Here is the offline server "recipe" I have custom created for a real good deepcleaning scrub... I've run this 3-4 times with clean solution each time and still getting gunk out of the HEX and internal hoses. If you are used to PBW it would be easy to tell you that my tubing and even the luer-lock T connector are nearly brand new (bye bye beer stone). First 2 runs there was chunks of black/dark brown bits (protein build up) laying at the bottom of the keg.

It is best to start the deepclean, if you are encountering Error 1 during heat phases, at the closest temp to your HOTTEST tap water available. This will jump start the cleaning process and bypass the need to heat COLD tap water.


View attachment 707305

After 2-3 cleans or when liquid is ending up in the keg mostly clear/clean move on to the next step which is an Acid Rinse/Clean. To test to see if the Error 1 is resolved by the deepclean I've relied on an Acid Rinse with the machine's built in clean, but you could also repurpose the "PBW Deepclean" or a shorter modified "Acid Rinse or Clean" also included below. The purpose of the acid rinse is to inactivate the active ingredient in PBW I typically use Citric Acid for this in the Pico while using Starsan when cleaning kegs and other SS equipment.

View attachment 707306

After the Acid Rinse run a normal cleaning cycle after the machine has had a chance to cool down (if the wort temp is low and the HEX is >26 degrees higher Error 1 is tripped) or you can run a "Circulate" utility to get the temps to equalize to the incoming tap water temperatures. After this normal cleaning cycle is successful run 2 rinses to make sure all cleaner in the machine is flushed and replaced with water.

At this time given there are no channels for easy step filter replacement (all from the earlier auction have sold out by various folks in the community for an emergency backup and/or for modifications and measuring for molds) I don't recommend running a PBW wash through any other "Location" other than "PassThru" which by-passes the Step Filter. Given the beatings that earlier Zymatic SFs took from owners using PBW and only 1 year of the Z in the hands of the community we don't yet have long term wear statistics for the Z's newly designed SF. Cleaning this in a dishwasher or by hand is best (in addition to the build in "clean" utility function on the device).
Running your PBW clean thanks for sharing. Can you let me know what concentration the citric acid clean you used after the PBW clean. Thanks!
 

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Boston, MA
Running your PBW clean thanks for sharing. Can you let me know what concentration the citric acid clean you used after the PBW clean. Thanks!
Oh that is a good question... Don't know if I wrote that down, but I think I usually throw in 1Tbsp per gallon. I've started doing a citric acid rinse after each deep clean (every 3 cleans). Which since I switched to cleans every 2 sessions instead of 3 that is usually after 6 brew sessions. Remember after the citric acid to run at least 1 rinse, but I'd recommend even 2 if you have the patience and time.
 
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