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Thread: Mystery steam problem

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,705

    Mystery steam problem

    We recently replaced all our steam traps in our brewhouse. The old ones were very old--used when we built the system--and leaking badly, preventing us from getting a good boil in the kettle.

    Now we have a new problem, and it's transient to make things more fun.

    When the problem is occurring, it causes the boil from our calandria to pulse with a very regular rhythm. The pulsing is about 5 minutes of boil, then 5 minutes of no boil.

    Our steam traps have a thermostatic air-purge valve, and the runs from the steam jackets and calandria are as short as possible.

    I've read some about steam locking, but I don't think it's the problem--but it could be as the run of the condensate from the calandria inside the kettle may be long enough to cause the problem. We have never heard any water-hammer in the system.

    Sometimes this problem doesn't raise its ugly head, but this last brew has been a nightmare.

    Any ideas?
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    1,923

    Maybe add more air vents?

    I always include separate air vents at the top of the jackets. Even with air vents on steam traps. Sounds to me like air. Hard for that air to be discharged from bottom of jacket through the trap.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,705
    Philip--Can you recommend an air valve? I'm not familiar with them, but I'll do some looking.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    24
    Quote Originally Posted by TGTimm View Post
    We recently replaced all our steam traps in our brewhouse. The old ones were very old--used when we built the system--and leaking badly, preventing us from getting a good boil in the kettle.

    Now we have a new problem, and it's transient to make things more fun.

    When the problem is occurring, it causes the boil from our calandria to pulse with a very regular rhythm. The pulsing is about 5 minutes of boil, then 5 minutes of no boil.

    Our steam traps have a thermostatic air-purge valve, and the runs from the steam jackets and calandria are as short as possible.

    I've read some about steam locking, but I don't think it's the problem--but it could be as the run of the condensate from the calandria inside the kettle may be long enough to cause the problem. We have never heard any water-hammer in the system.

    Sometimes this problem doesn't raise its ugly head, but this last brew has been a nightmare.



    Any ideas?
    Hello Timm,

    Have a look at this link, https://www.cheresources.com/invisio...-thermosiphon/

    I manufacture external thermosyphons. As the temperature rises closer to the boil, the thermosyphon may start to oscillate like a liquid in a U tube. The solution is to pump the wort around the circuit until it reaches boiling, then switch off the pump and thermosyphoning should commence. Pumping the wort at the start aids heat transfer and minimises caramelisation. From what you have described, it seems like the severity of the problem is affected by the depth of wort in the copper.

    This is no definitive answer, but the problem probably lies more in the configuration of the calandria rather than steam side heat
    transfer.

    I hope all goes well.

    Best regards,
    Michael George.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    1,923

    I like Spirax equipment...

    Can't go wrong with time-tested, bullet-proof, solid design. Spirax isn't the only steam equipment manufacturer, but it's definitely my first choice. Look at their AV-13 which I put on a tee with their VB-14, a vacuum breaker to allow steam to condense without drawing a vacuum in your jackets. Put at the highest point of the jacket and you're good to go. When you shut down the jacket, the VB-14 allows air inside to replace condensing steam. Then on start-up, the AV-13 vents the air to allow full steam contact with jackets. They also have tons of on-line steam tutorials and fast response with real people to online questions. First rate.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,705
    Thanks, Philip.

    I've been doing my research and it seems our entire steam line system is badly designed--in fact, I'd say it's "built" rather than "designed". Unfortunately, all the piping is welded, making modifications difficult. I'm hoping we can come up with the bucks to get the whole thing professionally rebuilt sometime in the future.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

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