Heat exchanger holding water?

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Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby Jcarsten » Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:03 am

Just got my digital flat system this week and did a test run with water yesterday. The whole thing worked like a charm. Tested temperatures vs. my thermapen, made sure the temp-dependent and float-switch dependent functions were all working as I expected. Had I not been playing around with moving hot water around in it, I might have actually taken the time to run to my LHBS and pick up some grain befor they closed so that I could be moving wort instead of water.

My question is about the HERMS heat exchanger for the HLT. It is a coil of twisted copper tubing (looks like a small immersion chiller). Standard stuff. Recirculate the wort to hold temp. The Morebeer support tech I talked to was even kind enough to offer the suggestion that I route my sparge water through there after mashing so that it cleans the coil of residual wort.

After running just water through it yesterday, and letting it sit inverted over night, I still hear water sloshing around inside. I can hold the exchanger upright, then turn it over again and get a small amount of water out of the inlet.

Is there any way to get this thing completely dry? I know running 170+ F water will help keep it fairly clean. But I often go several weeks between brew sessions. I don't want it to stay wet in there and potentially harbor any mold or bacteria growth.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby Monster Mash » Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:30 am

If you have an air compressor you can blow it out or use Co2, it should run out by keeping it upside down though.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby pclemon » Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:43 am

I run a HERMS Set-up and due to where I live need to get as much water out of the coil as possible do that it doesn't freeze and split the copper. Once I'm done with the HLT I just squirt the hose into one end of the coil and it pushes out any residual wort. Then I either use the air compressor, or in some cases used my mouth, to blow air in one side and let the water run out the other. There might be a small amount of residual water left in it, but not enough to be a problem.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby Jcarsten » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:10 pm

Thanks. I was going to use my air compressor next time. I did some other stuff around the house yesterday and just walked by the utility room sink every so often and tipped the HERMs unit over to let the water drain out. After doing that a few times, I finally blew into one end and got a last significant "squirt" out. Since then, I have only been able to get a few drops here and there.

This is the exchanger I have:
http://morebeer.com/products/heat-excha ... opper.html

You can't see it from the pic, but each of the inlet/outlet tubes have a 90-degree bend before running straight to the outlet. It seems like what is happening is that when I had it upside down to drain (like I do with my immersion chiller) the water was getting caught in the higher of the 2 bends and was just sitting there. But leaving it upright, I was eventually able to get enough of the water to go down to the lower bend. A few tips to drain allowed the rest of the water to come down.

Blowing on one end is what finally got me past the "dam" created by the water trapped at the 90-degree bend. I am betting your advice above will do the trick. I will just drain as much as I can with gravity on brew day. Then give it a shot of air from my compressor while I am cleaning everything up and putting it away.

Pclemon. Is there any way you can do what the Morebeer guys suggested I do? It worked like a charm. I re-routed the sparge water from my HLT back through the HERMS exchanger. After a few seconds, there was nothing but hot sparge water in the HERMS coil. Seems like it would go a long way toward ensuring that it is completely wort free.

Thanks for the responses everyone.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby pclemon » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:17 pm

Jcarsten wrote:Pclemon. Is there any way you can do what the Morebeer guys suggested I do? It worked like a charm. I re-routed the sparge water from my HLT back through the HERMS exchanger. After a few seconds, there was nothing but hot sparge water in the HERMS coil. Seems like it would go a long way toward ensuring that it is completely wort free.


When I squirt the hose into it, the first couple of cups that come out are wort, after that it's clean/clear water. Anything that's left behind would be VERY minimal and in any case it's in copper so it's by nature anti-microbial and it's pre-boil so on the odd chance there WAS something in there, it's going to get boiled out anyhow. I prefer not to sweat something like this.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby MattM1050 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:51 pm

Hey All,

Good questions! I always sparge through my heat exchanger then to my sparge arm - gets that wort out and into the boil kettle, and also leaves the heat exchanger with clean water. That being said - there is water in there. You can blast it with CO2 / air compressor which should work pretty well (just take the quick disconnects out and install a CO2 quick disconnect).

Another option would be to boil some water in the HLT with the heat exchanger in it. If anybody has ever used an immersion chiller and put it in the boil kettle prior to flame out, you'll know that it spits out any water inside the chiller, and if you're standing in the way when this happens you get hit with boiling water! Not cool..no pun intended.

If you do this just make sure to connect two pieces of tubing and run them to a bucket. Almost all of the water should boil out of the coil and into the bucket. Even if you don't get it all out - the boiling temperatures will kill any bacteria. Doing a PBW clean through the exchanger helps too...but if you sparge through the exchanger this shouldn't be necessary.

Let me know if you have any questions, and hopefully this helps a little.

Cheers!
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby Jcarsten » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:59 am

Thanks Matt. I think you and I have talked on the homebrewtalk board before. Your advice is always helpful and was one of the reasons I went with the Morebeer sculpture over some of the other pre-made systems I was considering.

I have an air compressor with an attachment that would allow me to shoot a stream of air into either the male or female QD without removing them.

I also considered just working a boil into part of my cleaning regimen. I have not brewed an actual batch of beer with this system yet and haven't quite worked out my cleaning steps for brew day. I figure boiling the heat exchanger will work.

One question though. I dried it off pretty well when I was done. But still noticed a couple of crevices and small spots where that 'green coating' associated with oxidized copper appeared as the exchanger dried. Is that anything to worry about? Since the sparge water will actually come in contact with that the next time I brew, I figured I would ask.

I'm also considering working my "spent" Starsan into the mix somehow. On brew day, I would likely mix up 2 or 3, 5-gallon batches of Starsan. I would fill each 5 gallon fermenter with Starsan. And I always keep a 5 gallon plastic bucket filled with Starsan that I use to soak my cold side equipment (racking canes, tubing, etc.)

I could easily dump this into my MLT and HLT right before racking my wort to the fermenters. I figure I could clean the MLT and HLT with hot water while I am boiling my wort. Then when I dump the Starsan into them, I could just let it circulate through both kettles, the pumps and the heat exchanger while I am pitching my yeast and putting my fermenters in my brew fridge. That way, even if I had some moisture left behind in the heat exchanger, it would be Starsan solution.

I got a bacterial infection in my racking gear a couple of years ago that ruined 3 batches of beer before I pinpointed the source. I have been a little nuts about sanitation ever since.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby pclemon » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:27 am

Jcarsten wrote:I got a bacterial infection in my racking gear a couple of years ago that ruined 3 batches of beer before I pinpointed the source. I have been a little nuts about sanitation ever since.


You are WAYYYYYY over-thinking this. You only need be concerned about infection of your beer POST boil. Anything that's being boiled will be sterilized. The HERMS loop is well before the boil and in any case is copper which itself has anti-microbial properties (not suggesting that anything that's run through copper is sterile). The "green tarnish" is simply an oxide that's produced that protects the raw copper - there's nothing harmful about it.

The bacterial infection in your racking gear is a whole different issue. you're talking about introducing something that's post boil - or even post fermentation.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby turbo_ale » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:07 pm

pclemon wrote:The "green tarnish" is simply an oxide that's produced that protects the raw copper - there's nothing harmful about it.


No, the green Verdigris is poisonous, I would remove it before it goes in the wort. "As verdigris consists of various poisonous copper compounds, one should always wash one's hands after handling."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdigris
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 5B8085F0D3
http://www.ehow.com/how_4486955_treat-c ... oning.html
http://books.google.com/books?id=VNif1t ... ms&f=false
ON TAP:
1. 1C
2. 4B
3.
4.
5.
6.
Bottled: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, 16B, 18B, 18E, 19B, 20, 21A, 23, 27
Fermenting:
Next: 5C

BEER, a mixture of malted grains, water, hops and yeast, that is transformed through the course of fermentation that transcends the simplicity of those basic ingredients, fundamentally into the drink of life.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby pclemon » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:33 pm

turbo_ale wrote:
pclemon wrote:The "green tarnish" is simply an oxide that's produced that protects the raw copper - there's nothing harmful about it.


No, the green Verdigris is poisonous, I would remove it before it goes in the wort. "As verdigris consists of various poisonous copper compounds, one should always wash one's hands after handling."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdigris
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 5B8085F0D3
http://www.ehow.com/how_4486955_treat-c ... oning.html
http://books.google.com/books?id=VNif1t ... ms&f=false


Ok, I shouldn't have been so cavalier about saying there's nothing harmful about it - but lets face the fact that just about everything is harmful in sufficient quantity. There is no need to scrub back copper to shiny prior to use. How would one ever clean their plate chillers of all the oxide layer?
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby turbo_ale » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:07 pm

pclemon wrote:Ok, I shouldn't have been so cavalier about saying there's nothing harmful about it - but lets face the fact that just about everything is harmful in sufficient quantity. There is no need to scrub back copper to shiny prior to use. How would one ever clean their plate chillers of all the oxide layer?


I agree "no need to scrub back copper to shiny prior to use." The Verdigris is the exception, must be removed from contact to beer.

On the other hand John Palmer was talking about discolored copper wort immersion chillers and said something along the line, paraphrase, (when you put your discolored copper chiller in wort, then after boil it is shinier, the acidic wort cleaned the copper of oxides, where did it go, in the beer.) Now copper itself is not harmful in small doses, it's the oxides which could cause off flavors. So I think he was getting at cleaning the copper with PBW and the like to keep the copper shiny, and not dark or discolored.
ON TAP:
1. 1C
2. 4B
3.
4.
5.
6.
Bottled: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, 16B, 18B, 18E, 19B, 20, 21A, 23, 27
Fermenting:
Next: 5C

BEER, a mixture of malted grains, water, hops and yeast, that is transformed through the course of fermentation that transcends the simplicity of those basic ingredients, fundamentally into the drink of life.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby Jcarsten » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:13 pm

turbo_ale wrote:
pclemon wrote:Ok, I shouldn't have been so cavalier about saying there's nothing harmful about it - but lets face the fact that just about everything is harmful in sufficient quantity. There is no need to scrub back copper to shiny prior to use. How would one ever clean their plate chillers of all the oxide layer?


I agree "no need to scrub back copper to shiny prior to use." The Verdigris is the exception, must be removed from contact to beer.

On the other hand John Palmer was talking about discolored copper wort immersion chillers and said something along the line, paraphrase, (when you put your discolored copper chiller in wort, then after boil it is shinier, the acidic wort cleaned the copper of oxides, where did it go, in the beer.) Now copper itself is not harmful in small doses, it's the oxides which could cause off flavors. So I think he was getting at cleaning the copper with PBW and the like to keep the copper shiny, and not dark or discolored.


The green I am talking about is primarily present where it looks as if 2 pieces of copper were welded together, if that makes a difference.
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby turbo_ale » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:03 pm

Jcarsten wrote:
turbo_ale wrote:I agree "no need to scrub back copper to shiny prior to use." The Verdigris is the exception, must be removed from contact to beer.


The green I am talking about is primarily present where it looks as if 2 pieces of copper were welded together, if that makes a difference.


Yes, remove the green.
ON TAP:
1. 1C
2. 4B
3.
4.
5.
6.
Bottled: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, 16B, 18B, 18E, 19B, 20, 21A, 23, 27
Fermenting:
Next: 5C

BEER, a mixture of malted grains, water, hops and yeast, that is transformed through the course of fermentation that transcends the simplicity of those basic ingredients, fundamentally into the drink of life.
turbo_ale
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby Jcarsten » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:47 pm

I've done some searching since my last post. Do I need to use something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar? Or would warm water and some steel wool suffice?

And since this thread started with me finding water inside the coil, do I need to do something to flush it?
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Re: Heat exchanger holding water?

Postby r2d2 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:09 am

A short soak in Star San and the copper is bright again.
A scrubby is works well versus the steel wool.
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