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 Post subject: Screw plate chillers...
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:57 pm 
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Pint Glass

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:56 pm
Posts: 65
I have noticed that slowly my chilling efficiency has started to drop. What used to take 20-30 minutes to knock out and chill has drifted out to 45 minutes, especially since I have to slow the wort rate to a crawl to get to a reasonable temperature. Now I have fairly warm tap water here in Texas, and always blamed that.

Recently, I added a garden sprayer to the end, so that I could move the drain hose into the HLT to capture the warm water for cleaning, and in the process discovered that on the water side, a lot of bicarbonate buildup was crusting closed the brass on the hose. When I took the hoses off the chill plate, both the front and back were caked with white crusty bicarbonates. My water is horrible for brewing (and for consumption frankly) and is saturated with sodium and bicarbonate. When this is heated rapidly under pressure - it drops out baking soda and other crap. Essentially, the water side of the chiller was being blocked and the flow rate slowing enough to affect the chilling efficiency. I removed the plate chiller - and pumped strong sani-clean (star san without the detergent) for 2 hours before the flow rate was reasonable. At least the ports where I could see are now clean and shiny. I also took the time to do the same on the wort side and again appalled at the volume of garbage that was released. Another 2 hours of work. I back flush after every brew day and run boiling water and sanitizer through before every brew - and this was so disappointing.

You want the chilling water to move as quickly as possible through the hose, and then change the flow rate of the wort. Faster the chill water flows, higher efficiency, and easier to find a reasonable time for chilling.

So - I have bought the large counterflow chiller from ZChillers to replace the plates. I am shocked at how well this works and how quickly I was able to knock out. I used the plumbing on the Chill Wizard, and attached the in/outs appropriately. I knocked out to within 4 degrees of my tap water in less than 10 minutes. I also bought a cleaning brush used in aquarium setups that is on a very long spring like wire and ran it through after a good rinse. The brush came out clean. I am not looking back. So 12 gallons in less than 10 minutes, dropped from boiling to 66F and into a fermenter. I actually went lower than my desired pitching temperature for a change. No more waiting for the last 10 degrees in the fermentation chamber to drop to pitch. I will now need to adjust my O2 flow rate since this rolls through so quickly.

Now I need to figure out how to nicely integrate these things together. It's a bit of a mess of hoses and not nearly the nice package that the Chill Wizard made. Will post some photos if I can figure it out.

Forgive the rant.

Just a warning... I have been using the Chill Wizard for 6 years, and no contaminated batches, but really frustrated that even with a fairly rigid cleaning regiment so much tedious maintenance is required.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:30 pm 
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Hydrometer Jar

Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:03 pm
Posts: 12
I've been eyeing those zchiller online. They are expensive chillers but have great reviews. Agreed, the plate chiller is a pain in the you know what to keep clean and I loath the post boil part of the brew day. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining about the quality of the chill wizard, as I think it's quite good, but plate chillers in general are a pain. No matter how much I flush it out after I use it I still get hops debris. I hate that after spending $800 on the chill wizard I need to use hops bags or a hops spider to reduce derbies or else I'm going to spend 3 hours flushing. I found the best way to clean it is disassemble the chiller and soak it in a costic soda bath overnight followed by a good rinse. But once again my cleaning/use ratio is like 10/1. Sorry I'm flaming the chill wizard but damn it's a pain to clean.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:30 am 
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Hydrometer Jar

Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:55 pm
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Ive had two plate chillers, and although there efficient in cooling wort, i think they take away the fun of brewing. Just like stainless conical fermenters, there nice, but it sucks braking down all the parts of the valves and seals to clean. Buckets are super quick, cheap, and real easy to clean from batch to batch. After years of brewing both at home and commercially, nothing beats an immersion chiller in the ability to clean it in 2 minutes with a garden hose. If your worried about efficiency, build yourself a prechiller. From boiling to 65° in 20 minutes using my copper chiller, and copper prechiller.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:07 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:48 pm
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Hey guys,

I'm kinda scouring all these forums to get advice on using my brew magic for the first time. For the chilling problem, I am in Hawaii so warm water from the tap is also a problem. But I'm thinking I'm going to put my immersion chiller (from my smaller batch days) in an ice bath to cool the water, then send the cold water straight the chill-wizard. I would think that this would be an effective method given that you have an immersion chiller already. If you read the instructions for the chill wizard it clearly states that if you tap water is not cold it wont be effective. Before moving back to Hawaii, I lived in Vegas, so keeping tap water temperatures for chilling wort low was always an issue for me in the summer (not to mention fermentation temps!). An immersion chiller is always a good thing to have especially if you have an unforeseen issue with the plate chiller. You can usually find these immersion chillers around 60 bucks and they get your water ice cold before hitting the chill wizard.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:02 pm 
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Pint Glass

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:56 pm
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I have used a pre-chiller a lot - had to because of the warm tap waters here - especially in the summers. It certainly helped, but it usually took at least 2 bags of ice (16 lbs each) over 45 minutes to chill.

I still have no regrets moving to the counterflow. It is chilly outside today - around 32F and the water is pretty cold. Knocked out through the CF into the fermenter at 66 F in about 6 minutes. Still not looking back.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:30 am 
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Hydrometer Jar

Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:52 pm
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Very interesting.

It seems that limescale buildup was your problem with the Chillwizard, not hop debris. I read earlier that you used to bake your plate chiller in the over, I'd think that this would only exacerbate the buildup of limescale. In this case, recirculating with PBW would not remove it, but an acid wash first might have.

I'd be keen to see pics of your counterflow setup in particular how you fix in the airstone for O2 injection.


Last edited by Goose on Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:12 pm 
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Pint Glass

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:56 pm
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Hi Goose,

Like you - I always back flushed the wort side and ran both PBW and Star San. Never had an infection I could associate with the plate chiller. Just one from some frozen raspberries.

The limescale is a side effect of my very horrible water... for some reason, it never occurred to me to pump star san on that side as well. FYI - you will get hops and cold break build up in your plate chiller - but the spider should keep most of the particles out. I pumped hot PBW and Star San through each side until it ran clear, and a little acid 5 through the water side until I got verdigris. Then flushed both with cold water before baking. Baking wet helps to force up the residual crap and soften - a run through with PBW and Star San after yielded some pretty nasty sediment. I let that drain dry over a few days and baked again for an extended period of time - to carbonize what was left. Used compressed air to push out each side and was further shocked.

I simply installed the counterflow chiller inline bypassing the platechiller. The O2 and temp gauges are in the same position. There is a bit more chiller loss, but only about an extra 1/2 quart, which I drain and use as starter wort.

I have since removed the plate chiller, filled with DI water and vacuum sealed it to keep the moisture in. I did add a little bit of Star San.

Image

A summer project will be to install the chiller in a cohesive way into the CW Stand.

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