View Full Version : pump suggestions?

11-17-2012, 05:46 AM
Hey All,

I am just getting a very small nano brewery on its feet (1.5 barrel capacity). I built my system from the ground up, and everything is working, but not necessarily as quickly as would be best.

I am using stainless steel tubing and a 200,000 btu burner in a sort of 'hot water on demand' set up that I built to heat my water in the HLT. Yesterday, I was having issues with vapor lock, and a buddy of mine was saying that I probably need a stronger pump. Right now I am using one of the nano-scale March pumps for just about all of my brewing tasks that need a pump. It is not self priming, so I was contemplating buying a non-high-temp self priming pump for other transfers (under 150 bucks).

But now with this vapor lock issue, and need to move wort more quickly during the brewing process, I was thinking that it might be best to replace the March pump with something more in tune with pushing water through 3/8" SS tubing at a higher velocity, a pump that is good with high temps, and is self priming, and maybe something that I can keep using if and when I grow beyond my 1.5 barrel system. Right now, I also use my March pump in a keg cleaning set up that I made - a pump with a real kick would benefit the cleaning process as well.

I need to shave time off of my current brew session, and I'm thinking the right pump would do just that.

Would anyone have any good suggestions? I'm not looking to break the bank, but I realize that this is something that would be a good investment. Any workhorse machine that may come to mind, I'll take any feedback on.

Thanks very much.


11-17-2012, 06:51 PM

You are extremely limited in that price range. All I can really think of is the March and Chugger pumps. Little Giant makes a flexible impeller pump that is somewhat self priming.
Not sure I'd want to use if for a sanitary application though and it's only rated for 120 degrees. You might want to check some of the homebrew sites. I am curious about your "vapor lock" problem. Vapor lock is usually associated with gasoline. Vapor lock in a car is when the gas changes from its liquid state to a gaseous state in the fuel line. This causes your fuel pump to loose its prime. Of course this is when fuel pumps were driven by the camshaft and had to "suck" fuel from the gas tank. The good ole days of carburetors:) Cars these days use high pressure fuel pumps mounted in the gas tank, which eliminates that problem. What exactly are you pumping and where? Is the pump mounted above the level of the liquid you are pumping? What process are you trying to speed up? 3/8" tubing is tiny. How fast are you hoping to go? A little engineering may go a long way in your current set up.


Cambria Beer Co
11-20-2012, 06:36 AM
Vapor lock might equal cavitation? I see it from time to time when I am running boiling wort through our HX at the end of the boil (flame still going btw). I don't think you can get away from this problem of pulling the boiling liquid unless you ran it into a grant then to you pump.

Hope that helps

11-21-2012, 11:03 AM
What is probably happening is that the hot water is actually vaporizing inside the pump. As you suck with a pump you reduce pressure inside the suction side of the pump and the hot water vaporizes. No mater what pump you use you would have the same problem. Can you change your piping configuration so your pump is near the source of the water and is pushing the water through the heater?

11-28-2012, 09:37 AM
Before I respond, we are also only a 1.5 bbl nano... Take the previous advice and pump from a grant. I do it all the time, not just on the runoff of the mash. When we pump to the primary fermenter we use the grant. Also helps to supply oxygen for the yeast. We pump into an open fermenter (1 1/2 bbl) and drop it from height (top of the vessel).

As long as your pump and oultlet hose are below the level of the liquid you are pumping the vapor lock or priming should not come into play. You will run into this when trying to pump liquid that is too hot or trying to pump from a source that can't keep up with the pump's demand. Do you have a valve you can throttle back on the outlet side of your pump???

This is the one we are using and it works great.


We got it on sale for $160. Just shop around a little.



11-29-2012, 07:12 AM
We are using march pumps and are knocking out 110 gallons or so with no problems and coming up on batch 200. pumping from a grant is a great idea but the real issue is you need to plumb your pump below the liquid and it doesn't hurt to have a valve at the lowest point to assure you have liquid at or below the pump. if the pump is full of liquid it will pump.

11-30-2012, 11:39 PM
Agreed..our grant sits just high enough above the pump on a slab on the floor that gravity will push liquid through it in order to start the prime. I like the valve with an outlet just after the pump....going to add that one to mine!

12-02-2012, 06:02 AM
The grant idea is a good one. The other is to start the pump more slowly to allow the housing to heat up, this will avoid cavitation. Tougher to do with a plastic pump though. On that note, avoid using a pump that has threads on anything other than boiling hot wort. They just aren't sanitary and will eventually bite you. Keep an eye on ebay for sanitary pumps and start saving. No one is more into cheap then me, but when we teach our classes this is one place to spend money.

12-29-2012, 01:19 PM
I use March pumps with Chugger heads on my 1BBL setup. Both pumps in the system are located below the supply side so there is no issue with priming. My HLT pump is mounted vertically and this seem to have reduced some cavitation that I used to experience with a horizontally mounted HLT pump.

I also have a grant made from a 20L keg which is fitted two outlets - one screened and the other not so as to reduce grain being passed into the kettle. You can see pictures on my web site.