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What do I need to prepare a used corny keg (picked up at a flea market say) for brewing?

  • Should I replace the seals?
  • Do I need a special tool to remove the posts?
  • What products and techniques should I use to clean and sanitize the keg?
  • What else do I need to think about?
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Replacing the seals is usually a good idea. Seal Kits are inexpensive. A good how-to on replacing seals is helpful.

The one tricky bit about o-rings is that certain types work best with certain kegs. This is especially true of the o-rings that sit between the dip tubes and the in/out ports. With the right o-rings, you really don't have to apply that much torque to the in/out post to get it to hold pressure. With the wrong type of o-ring you might have to really wrench it down, which can cause galling on the threads and shorten the life of your keg.

As for tools, not really. An adjustable wrench is fine. If you have a socket-wrench set with deep sockets, that works too. When you disassemble the thing, keep track of which part goes with which port. Makes reassembly easier.

Cleaning & Sanitizing is the same as any homebrewing equipment. Soaking the insides with PBW and StarSan is my normal approach. Soak the disassembled parts in the same stuff. These two episodes of Brew Strong (one, two) go in to the process a bit more. But there's nothing tricky about it.

There's not much else to keg maintenance. I like having a bleeder valve around just to make sure my kegs are holding pressure over time.

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One other thing you may have to replace are the poppets, these are the most common source of leaking. One trick that that can help the poppets seat better is to use some food grade lubricant on the rubber gasket before you re-assemble. This can keep the poppet from leaking. It's also a good idea to lube all the gaskets before use. – Northern Brewer Chris Feb 14 '11 at 22:13
When you say "soak the insides with PBW and StarSan," is that part of the same solution, i.e. mixed together? Or do you mean, soak/clean with PBW, then sanitize with StarSan? – Dustin Rasener Feb 17 '11 at 17:34
First PBW, then rinse, then StarSan. Sorry, should have been more clear. If you mix the two chemicals together they no longer work. – Hopwise Feb 17 '11 at 21:25

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