Cleaning single line kegerators is fairly easy with a simple gravity fed or pump style beer line cleaning kit, but trying to clean multiple kegerator lines with the same cleaning kit can become time consuming and cumbersome. If you have two, three or more lines it is more efficient to clean them all at the same time. Making use of an inexpensive submersible pump will allow you to recirculate line cleaner through the lines and remove beer stone deposits, yeast, bacteria and other build up.
In our first example we take a look at a multiple tap tower kegerator that is in need of deep cleaning. When deep cleaning of faucets is required (after 3 or 4 kegs), you need to remove them from the tower to disassemble, soak and scrub them with the appropriate cleaner like PBW. The following cleaning setup allows you to recirculate line cleaner or sanitizer through your lines while you deep clean your faucets separately. This configuration can be used on kegerators with commercial keg couplers or homebrew style disconnects. The only difference is the use of a different cleaning jumper to join the lines.
The following setup allows you to clean or sanitize your lines, taps and couplers at the same time. This comes in handy when you do not need to pull apart your faucet taps for deep cleaning. *This setup will also work on multiple tap towers when deep cleaning of the faucets is not necessary.
You have a few options when choosing the connector type on the output port of your pump. The pump comes with a variety of barbed connectors for use with various sized tubes, so you can certainly utilize them as needed. I like to standardize all my connections using ball lock disconnect fittings and posts. They are inexpensive, easy to clean and quick to connect with many different pieces of equipment. In the picture below, I used a Ball Lock Cleaning Post with a 3/4" GHT Male x 1/2" NPTF Male Adapter to thread directly into the pump.
Most kegerators are sold with a "D" style Sanke keg coupler to dispense commercial American beer, but some are fitted with homebrew style disconnects. Either way, there is a jumper connector to combine Sanke couplers and another to combine homebrew disconnects. Below is an example of how to connect two homebrew disconnects with a cleaning jumper.
Two or three feet of 1/2" inner diameter silicone tubing works great as a faucet jumper line. Simply slip the tube over the faucet spouts and your ready to go. Alternatively, you can remove the faucets and use a faucet line jumper to connect them together.
Gravity fed cleaning systems are great for quick line flushing, but most line cleaners require a minimum contact time to be effective. Using an electric pump to recirculate the line cleaner is recommended as the approach for nearly all kegerator lines. Re-circulation pump cleaning uses the combination of chemical cleaning and mechanical action, to effectively clean kegerator lines, by increasing the normal flow rate through the beer lines during the cleaning process and usually in the opposite direction of the normal flow. Recirculating for 20 minutes with an acidic or alkaline based line cleaner easily loosens beer stone, yeast, bacteria and other deposits from draft lines. Always remember to purge the lines with clean water after using beer line cleaner.
There are a few different times you will want to run a cleaning or sanitizing solution through the beverage lines. It is not necessary to completely disassemble your entire system between each keg, but you should do a surface cleaning of your lines every two weeks and a deep cleaning every three months.
After 3 or 4 kegs or around three months, it will be time to disconnect the kegs, remove the faucets and couplers and hand scrub them. Recirculate an acidic sanitizer like Star San though the lines for 15 to 30 minutes. Some cleaning solutions do not require a water rinse after use and some do, so make sure you read the cleaning procedure for each cleaner you use.
After two weeks or after every keg you will want to recirculate an alkaline based line cleaner like BLC for 20 minutes and then perform a water flush.
If you are not going to be using your kegerator for period of time, you should sanitize the lines before storage. After you run a cleaner through the lines you can next run a sanitizer like Star San or Iodophor through the system per the sanitizer's recommended contact times. Use dedicated cleaning solutions in lines that contain wild yeast or bacteria based beverages. Don't use the same cleaner in a "clean" line that you have also run through a "sour" line.
Keep your lines separated. You do not want cross contamination of wild or "rogue" yeast to influence a "clean" beer. Even after recirculating cleaner in a line that once dispensed a beer with bacteria or wild yeast cultures you will not be able to sanitize the lines 100%. Just as a homebrewer keeps their "clean" brewing equipment separate from your bacteria/wild yeast brewing equipment, do the same for your dispensing lines.
Over a period of time kegerator lines can become become brittle making it easier for bacteria, wild yeast and molds to take hold in cracks and small scratches in the line material. They should last about a year if regular surface and deep cleanings are performed.
Depending on the beverage you are dispensing, you might find that your lines become stained or discolored. This can occur even after the first dispensing of a darker colored beer, wine, coffee or even soda. Discoloration usually does not affect how the lines perform as long as they are fairly new lines and after recirculation of line cleaner there are no remaining odors. If you notice beer stone or other materials in the line after cleaning then it is time to replace.