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Heating element rust
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bbognerks



Joined: 10 Jan 2011
Posts: 51
Location: Wichita, KS


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:01 pm    Post subject: Heating element rust Reply with quote


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Is anyone having issues with their heating elements rusting on the face? By the face, I mean the part that is screwed into the locknut. I used my kettle for the 2nd time over the weekend. I left water in it over night so I'd be right ready to go in the morning. I didn't notice the rust until after we got done brewing. It wasn't a small amount either really. I wanted to see if Kal or anyone else had this issue and what they did to fix it. I read on HBT that you can either try using an aluminum or magnesium anode, or to paint it with POR-15. Thoughts?

EDIT: My permanent fix for this can be found on page two of this thread >>HERE<<

2015 UPDATE: An even simpler option is to use one of the new Camco elements that include a stainless steel base - available for sale here: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/stainless-steel-heating-elements - No anode required!

Kal


Last edited by bbognerks on Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Pale Ale (sessionable), Mild, NEIPA, Schwarzbier, Kölsch, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Saison


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a snippet that I posted here: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/heating-elements

Quote:
A note on rust: These heating elements are normally used in electric water heaters that also have a sacrificial anode installed. The anode's sole purpose is to oxidize first, protecting the heating element base from rusting. Our kettles do not have an anode so make sure to not leave water in the Boil Kettle or Hot Liquor Tank for many days on end. Leaving water in during a typical brewing period is not an issue. In fact, a coating that protects will form on the element base in the Boil Kettle after a few uses. It's more an issue in the Hot Liquor Tank if you leave water standing for a long time (many days).


One thing that'll work too as an anode I'm told is using a 1" locknut made out of aluminum instead of stainless steel.

Been meaning to order a couple of those myself just to make sure. (I haven't had rust issues myself up to now but some electric brewers do).

Kal

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bbognerks



Joined: 10 Jan 2011
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Location: Wichita, KS


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for responding. I didn't think an overnight soak would be as bad as it was. Unfortunately, the aluminum locknut solution won't work for me. I silver soldered the SS locknut to my keg for my installation. I guess I'll just have to get an aluminum or magnesium anode or coat the thing with POR15. Thanks again and I'll update the thread when I figure out a solution that works for me.
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Pale Ale (sessionable), Mild, NEIPA, Schwarzbier, Kölsch, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Saison


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another option:

Get a 2-3" square piece of aluminum siding (unpainted if you can or sand off the paint), drill a round hole in it to fit over tightly over the element threads so that it's in contact with the element, and then attach the stainless steel 1" locknut or in your case simply screw it in.

You could also make it round to avoid sharp corners.

Kal

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silverspoons



Joined: 21 Dec 2010
Posts: 542
Location: Webster NY


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:22 pm    Post subject: aluminum flashing Reply with quote

i'm punching holes and installing the elements this weekend, i have some aluminum roofing flashing around, was thinking of cutting a couple large "washers" punching a hole in them with the greenlee and putting them in when i install the elements.
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crush



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to be clear, the aluminium does need to be in contact with the liquid? I think so, since it's the small current and icon exchange that flows that protects the cathode. It's all vague and blurry to me now, but it was the previous millenium when I did electrochemistry at school Razz

Kal, you mentioned an aluminium locknut, I guess that goes up against the element flare on the inside of the kettle?

Doing something to prevent rust I think this is a good idea. I know myself too well, anything that can help avoid unnecessary repairs due to absent-minded brewing practices is very welcome!

PS: If I can't find an alu locknut anywhere local, is there some everyday item I could use instead? Say, circular pieces cut out of a soda can?

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bbognerks



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PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aluminum flashing from HD or Lowes would be better. The Alu locknut can be bought from McMaster I think. Some people have put magnesium fire starters from the camping section of stores in their pots as well. I think a better option for me is the POR15. I have it ordered, so we'll see how it works. Others have used JB Weld.
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Pale Ale (sessionable), Mild, NEIPA, Schwarzbier, Kölsch, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Saison


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

crush wrote:
Just to be clear, the aluminium does need to be in contact with the liquid? I think so, since it's the small current and icon exchange that flows that protects the cathode. It's all vague and blurry to me now, but it was the previous millenium when I did electrochemistry at school Razz

Not sure about the liquid but it does have to be in contact with the steel element head/threads where the rust happens. This is why I recommended getting a small 2x2" piece with a hole punched that is *exactly* the size of the heating element threads so that there's contact.

Quote:
Kal, you mentioned an aluminium locknut, I guess that goes up against the element flare on the inside of the kettle?

It would replace the 1" NPS Stainless locknut.

Quote:
S: If I can't find an alu locknut anywhere local, is there some everyday item I could use instead? Say, circular pieces cut out of a soda can?

Piece of aluminum siding is what I've seen recommended. I'm sure other things would work too but I'm not metallurgist/chemist so I'll let someone else recommend!

bbognerks wrote:
Aluminum flashing from HD or Lowes would be better. The Alu locknut can be bought from McMaster I think. Some people have put magnesium fire starters from the camping section of stores in their pots as well. I think a better option for me is the POR15. I have it ordered, so we'll see how it works. Others have used JB Weld.


I looked at McMaster but didn't find anything. Anyone got a source/link?

I quickly looked at POR15 but it doesn't seem to mention anything about suitability for food use.

Kal

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bbognerks



Joined: 10 Jan 2011
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PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based on the research I did at HBT, a guy called POR15 about it being safe for food. While it is not FDA approved, this is what they had to say, "POR-15 is completely inert when fully cured. It gives off no chemicals or vapors." People have used it with no ill side effects or off flavors. Kinda like JB weld is ok for heatsticks, POR15 is ok for this application. Use at your own risk kinda thing.

I'd rather not deal with trying to get an anode in contact with the heating element base and the water at the same time. Yes it must contact both, otherwise it won't be taking the ions from the water. You can't just slap it on the outside, it must be submerged. This would be fine if I was weldless or solderless and an aluminum locknut. But I'm not, so it won't work for me.

POR 15 does not deteriorate with concentrations of sulphuric acid up to 50% and hydrochloric acid up to 10%, as well as other acids in concentrations over 10%. So I seriously doubt the slightly acidic wort will do anything to cause it to break down and leech into it. Also it's rated to 600* F. Again, use at your own risk though.

Lastly, aluminum locknut
http://www.bargainfittings.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=166
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kal
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Pale Ale (sessionable), Mild, NEIPA, Schwarzbier, Kölsch, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Saison


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found the McMaster Carr 1" NPS Aluminum locknut: http://www.mcmaster.com/#44705k416

Anyone want to try it out? I'd order one myself but I'm not allowed to order directly from McMaster Carr as I'm in Canada. (I had to use a forwarding service for my original order with them and bought a ton of stuff to make it worth the while).

Kal

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bbognerks



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PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also was just looking at this on McMaster, in case the locknut is out of the question for others.

Item# 3590K2

Quite the conversation we started here, heh. I may actually get the pads instead of using the POR15. IF that doesn't work, then do the POR15
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crush



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 709
Location: Telemark, Norway


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbognerks wrote:

I'd rather not deal with trying to get an anode in contact with the heating element base and the water at the same time. Yes it must contact both, otherwise it won't be taking the ions from the water. You can't just slap it on the outside, it must be submerged. This would be fine if I was weldless or solderless and an aluminum locknut. But I'm not, so it won't work for me.

That's what I thought. It doesn't need to be in direct physical contact - the current and ions can flow through the water - so just throwing a lump of aluminium into the kettle should work.

bbognerks wrote:

POR 15 does not deteriorate with concentrations of sulphuric acid up to 50% and hydrochloric acid up to 10%, as well as other acids in concentrations over 10%. So I seriously doubt the slightly acidic wort will do anything to cause it to break down and leech into it. Also it's rated to 600* F. Again, use at your own risk though.

Lastly, aluminum locknut
http://www.bargainfittings.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=166


Nice finds on the POR15 and the alu locknut! Mug

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bbognerks



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PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

crush wrote:

That's what I thought. It doesn't need to be in direct physical contact - the current and ions can flow through the water - so just throwing a lump of aluminium into the kettle should work.


It would work better if you bolted it to the kettle though, or even to what you are protecting. You may not get good results if you don't. It needs an electrical path to the piece you are trying to protect.

From Wikipedia:
Code:
Cathodic protection works by introducing another metal (the galvanic anode) with a much more anodic surface, so that all the current will flow from the introduced anode and the metal to be protected becomes cathodic in comparison to the anode. This effectively stops the oxidisation reactions on the metal surface by transferring them to the galvanic anode, which will be sacrificed in favour of the structure under protection.[6]

For this to work there must be an electron pathway between the anode and the metal to be protected (e.g., a wire or direct contact) and an ion pathway between the anode and the metal to be protected (e.g., water or moist soil) to form a closed circuit; thus simply bolting a piece of active metal such as zinc to a less active metal, such as mild steel, in air will not furnish any protection.


A locknut would do both inherently. But for a chunk of alu, it should at least be bolted to the kettle and submerged. The closer to the element base, the better.
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crush



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 709
Location: Telemark, Norway


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

It would work better if you bolted it to the kettle though, or even to what you are protecting. You may not get good results if you don't. It needs an electrical path to the piece you are trying to protect.


You're right of course. Hehe, I wasn't really being all that serious about just throwing in a lump of aluminum, but just for discussions sake, wouldn't the water/wort provide the necessary conduction path, as well as an ion path? hmm...something in the back of my head tells me they should be separate paths, otherwise you get no potential difference.

But the nut definitely has to go on the inside, not the outside, right?

I've placed all my orders for all the Electric Brewery parts from the US, and it's now on it's way to me in Norway, so there is no chance I can get an alu locknut from MC or BargainFittings (I even ordered from there a couple of weeks ago..d'oh!) To fashion a shim to go on the inside of the kettle, I might look around for a cheap baking tray or maybe even a biscuit tin. I hear that PBW can remove the teflon from a non-stick pan, so maybe it can remove the painted side of a biscuit tin!

Final question - let's say we leave the kettle for days with water, and the aluminium sacraficial anode is sacraficed, what would it look like? I'm asking so I know what to look for to see when the aluminium needs replacing.

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kal
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PostLink    Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

crush wrote:
Final question - let's say we leave the kettle for days with water, and the aluminium sacraficial anode is sacraficed, what would it look like? I'm asking so I know what to look for to see when the aluminium needs replacing.

My understanding is that it would take many many years. You'd likely see no difference even after 20 years of use in our setups.

Someone here's been kind enough to order for me so I'm going to be doing some tests and will be posting an update once I'm confident it works as I would expect. That said, I wouldn't be worried about using stainless steel. Just don't leave water in the HLT overnight or longer.

Kal

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bbognerks



Joined: 10 Jan 2011
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PostLink    Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah good Kal. I was actually going to ask if you wanted me to order a couple nuts for you. As far as what it should look like if it's working, see this thread over at HBT:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/another-keggle-rust-thread-197700/#post2335294

It just starts getting white crap on it. You should be able to scrub it off every so often if it builds up.
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kal
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Pale Ale (sessionable), Mild, NEIPA, Schwarzbier, Kölsch, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Saison


PostLink    Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So forum member 'silverspoons' has been kind enough to order and forward me a couple of aluminum 1" NPS locknuts. Once they arrive I'll be installing them and leaving water in for a days to test.

I'll be a good chance for me to take apart the heating element box on my HLT after 2 years of use (about 30 batches) just to make sure that everything is still working well inside. I'll post my findings!

Thanks silverspoons - it's appreciated!

Kal

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crush



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
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PostLink    Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Admirable work silverspoons, on such deeds are communities built! no,...no..I can't...I won't ask you to send some to Norway Very Happy Very Happy
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MillWerks



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PostLink    Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the first time i've seen this thread...What comes to mind about using an aluminum locknut on the WH element is that you may want to add something like teflon tape or teflon paste to the threads of the element. Aluminum has a tendency of seizing up on steel. For example, aluminum wheels on a car will have anti-seize compound added before steel lugnuts are installed so that they come off later.

I would assume that the kettle is going to outlive the element and it would be a shame it the locknut wouldn't come off! Those kettles are way too nice for that!
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bbognerks



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PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, well, even though I ordered some POR15, I wanted to try the hi-tech way first. I bought 2 Aluminum anode pads from McMaster. Item #3590K2. I installed them tonight and have left both kegs with about 5 gallons of water in them to test.

To install them, i drilled a 1/2" hole in my keggles. I then silver soldered a 1/2" dia 2" long Stainless Steel bolt to the keg. Lastly, I bolted the anode on. See pics!

The problem


Hopefully the solution


Bolt silver soldered on. I prepped both the keg wall and the bolt by sanding them with some coarse sand paper. I then applied the liquid acid flux to both surfaces. I took the silver solder and wrapped it around the bolt tightly 2 times and then put it through the hole in the keg. Apply heat to the bolt until the silver solder melts and fuses to the keg and bolt.


I bolted it in with a 1/2" SS washer and nut. This is the finished product. I cleaned up the rust with some Barkeeper's Friend so that I can see if it comes back. You can see the element hole on the left. I took it out so I wouldn't damage it while silver soldering.
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