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Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

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Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby Kev888 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:12 pm

I've been using a plate chiller for a little while with my 3-vessel setup - it works very well but no-one could accuse it of being quick/convenient to clean etc. So i'm in two minds about using it in my forthcoming single-vessel build, which I'm designing with the focus on ease and speed of use but hopefully not compromising on beer quality.

Has anyone built or seen a system where all the flushing/back-flushing and rinsing is particularly convenient? If I could build it into some simple-to-use recirculating process that cleans the pumps at the same time, perhaps running unattended over night or something, then it could still work with my aims.

Also, i currently sanitise it by boiling in a pressure cooker, but thats an extra step and likely to need costly camlocks to make it quick/easy to remove. I'd wondered about flushing with peracetic acid instead but I'm a little dubious with chemicals both as its a copper brazed construction and in terms of effectiveness - does anyone think theres a way or would say recirculating hot wort through it for 20mins be effective enough?

Cheers
Kev
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby lancsSteve » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:49 pm

I remember Daab's pics of his chiller after it was taken apart and all the crud in it...

I recirculate via a solar pump and manifold over an immersion chiller and it's VERY quick and no clearning to worry about - like the jamil "whirl-o-matic" idea.

Could you recirculate through the chiller before you turn it on for last 15 minutes to sterlilise and then post-brew put a cleaning solution in and run that round the whole thing to clean pump + chiller + kettle?
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby kebabman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:53 pm

Camlocks look great but so far I haven't noticed any problems with using the usual brass tap and quick connectors that you can get from Toolstation (and other places!) for £1.22 and £2.51 if you want quick disconnection.
I do also run hot wort through the chiller but only as a belt and braces exercise after sanitising.
The sanitising and rinsing and then back flushing of chillers is one situation where I think a permanently plumbed in setup would be nice and come into its own by just opening and closing valves rather than disconnecting/reconnecting.
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby Kev888 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:04 pm

Thanks for the thoughts chaps!

Yeah theres no doubt that an IC is very convenient, and it may well win my choice. But I've been having some success with the plate chiller which has got me wondering if it could be used more conveniently or not; its early days but i believe it may have reduced chill haze - no biggie really but perhaps 'worth having if its not too much effort'.

I like the permanant valves idea; probably you'd need about four to reverse the flow at the inlet and outlet - or two three-way ones if I can find any in stainless.

Recirculating hot wort as the main sanitising step is something I'm unsure about; presumably its not going to match a pressure cooker for a long autoclave, but I don't know if it would be 'good enough' or not - having seen those pictures of deposits I'm currently thinking it may be a risk too far though.. If so then removing it to boil would probably partly defeat the object of a permanently plummed system.

Hmm - maybe I'll just build an uber-IC and have done with it - its probably more in keeping with what I want.

Cheers
Kev
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby kebabman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:13 pm

I know commercial brewers who just recirc antiformin to sanitise. May be Critch can enlighten us here.
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby barney » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:11 am

Hello Kev,

This is my set up for the plate chiller,
Image

I find it a dodle to clean it, its far easier than getting a bucket of hot water out, soaking the IC for ten minutes to bring it up to temp, farting about with keep catching the lid when the coil is in the way stopping it going on. Dont get me wrong the IC worked for me when I didnt know any better on 5gallon brew lengths but as soon as I upped to 10 gallon it was a PITA.

The way I do it, I clean and sterilise twice, 1st mid boil, set up a small bucket with 5ltr of cleaning fluid in it, I mix on the stronger end of the spectrum for the chiller. Then pipe up the chiller to the pump. Put the pick up pipe into the cleaning fluid and then prime the pump and put the out let back into the bucket. Whole procedure takes less than 5 mins. After that its on its own cleaning away while the wort is boiling.

2nd time, after the the 12 minute chill down and transfer to FV :D , take the hose pipe water connector off, place the water connectors in the chiller " wort section" and back flush for 5 minutes while I carry the FV to location. Upon return remove water and connect wort hoses back to recirculate through cleaning fluid. I leave for a 30 minute soak while I tidy away the brew kit. Flush through with water again and done. No bother, its far easier than cleaning bits of hop leaf and jammed in shite out from between the coils.
I wonder what that tastes like?
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby Kev888 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:46 am

Ah very interesting - no boiling in pressure cookers or flushing with acid or anything. Its certainly simpler than my regime at the moment!

It'll never compete with my IC for convenience (all I ever do with that is put it outside and blast it briefly using a hose) but if flushing with chemical cleaners (say Antiform or PBW or murphys cleaner or something) is enough then that would make it more viable to build in to a permanent setup.

Cheers
Kev
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby pdtnc » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:57 pm

If easy plumbing allows, could you re-circ the plate chiller while heating & stirring the HLT by pumping, then re-circ boiling wort for 5-10 mins before starting to cool.
Then just back-flush re-circ with boiling water for 20mins afterwards.

I've not used mine yet, but I think I'd go for something simple like that, the Plate chiller being a combo of copper Solder & Stainless steel I do wonder what the best detergent cleaner would be?!
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby barney » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:18 pm

The problem I have found with the recirculating backflush is that any bits of hops flushed by the backflush is picked up very bloody quick by the pick up tube of the recirc. :) you have to be quick to back flush again. The latest method in our house is Back flush with hose pipe tails. Bring chiller into kitchen and place in sink. Drain water out out and fill chiller with cleaner steriliser through inlet tube until overflow is evident. Let stand for 20 minutes or so. Place chiller back in sink and turn on cold water tap aiming output at inlet hole. leave to rinse for 10 mins or whatever. Seems even simpler than previous method. :)

I have used murphys steriliser cleaner on recommendation from another user and have noted a distinct blue tinge to the water after 10 minutes or so recirculating
I wonder what that tastes like?
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby Kev888 » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:15 am

Thanks chaps, interesting ideas! Yes I'd heard hot water immediately after use, followed by murphys cleaner is a good combo, with phosphoric acid once in a while for beer stone. I've been using PBW but am intending to try the murphys stuff instead.

Hitherto, I've been boiling the whole thing in water to sanitise, as I've a concern of sanitising fluid not penetrating any hidden crudd, but maybe recirculating hot stuff is enough. I was also listening to the five-star blurb on starsan, which suggests this is much more able to cope with the presense of organic deposits than many cleaners so maybe a bit of a soak in that.. hmm..

Cheers
Kev
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby boingy » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:24 am

Definitely flush forward and back with really hot water as soon as cooling is complete. Dissolving and flushing out all those sugars out is a priority.
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby Kev888 » Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:27 pm

Hmm, yes that makes a lot of sense; I could just bung some clean water in the boiler after use to pump through it. Perhaps if I incorporated a solar pump pointing the other way around I could easily switch the recirculation/flow direction at the flick of a switch, without lots of re-plumbing or valves. Unless the reverse pump offered too much restriction to pump through it when cooling in the normal direction..

I wonder if covering the plate chiller in insulation may make a more certain job of heat-sanitising just by recirculating boiling wort. If I enveloped it in expanding foam and celotex/kingspan PIR then the whole thing should get quite hot - perhaps I'd dare clean/sanitise it in situe then, rather than boiling it in the pressure cooker...

I find it difficult to quantify the risk in terms of sanitation, but if its okay this may have lots of potential for making it easy to use!

Cheers
Kev
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby greenxpaddy » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:50 pm

I am dubious that recirculating hot wort is good enough if it is caked in crap inside. I've been doing this but I think recently the amount of crud inthe HEX is just too much to be sterilised in this way. My experience is flushing out after brewing and using antiformin to digest the gunk with a single soak on brewday is wholly ineffective. Needs cleaning properly asap after brewday.

My new regime is going to be to recirculate with hot caustic for 20 mins. Antiformin at 1 per cent/70-80c might be best. Whether this is going to be good on its own without an oxiclean I'll let you know.

At the moment I am still oxicleaning the b*st*rd to death to get rid of the shite built up over last few months. On sixth soak at the mo :shock: The crap in there beggars belief
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Re: Cleaning/using a plate chiller 'easily'?

Postby pdtnc » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:55 am

a note about or h/e at work, recently had a new set of plates and seals... the guy that changed them said it was the cleanest he had ever seen :)
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