Foam Cleaning: The Hardware – Part 2
Welcome back! In part 1 of this article, we discussed the chemical side of the foaming equation. Now, we’ll move onto the equipment that’s available, the pros and cons of each, and how best to utilize each piece. While proper chemicals are important, good equipment can be the difference between an effective foaming program and a dirty brew house.
Below, we’ll touch on several styles of equipment. There are certainly more, but these represent most of the market. We don’t endorse any particular brand, so we’ll keep it generic.
Pump-up Tank Foamer
Benefits: Cheap, mobile
Drawbacks: Poorest performance, unreliable, low coverage rates, generates thin foam, dilution rates are usually locked
Pump-up foamers are as entry level as it gets. They can be attractive in the beginning because they’re such small investments and don’t require hoses or airlines. They don’t produce a thick foam that clings very long, and are very prone to clogging if not cleaned out thoroughly and often. Also, since you must rinse these chemicals with clean water, you’re likely going to have to lug a hose around anyway. Often, people who have had a negative experience with foaming can blame it on the performance of a pump-up unit. Frankly, we just don’t recommend them for any application. Ever.
Benefits: Affordable, easy to handle, decent foam generation, good coverage rates, dilution rate easily changed
Drawbacks: Limited to hose length, tall equipment can be a challenge to foam, light duty construction
Hose-end foamers are probably the best bang for your buck. They’ll cost a little more than a pump-up foamer, but absolutely run circles around them as far as performance. Managing a hose can be a bit of a hassle, and they usually don’t “throw” foam very high (maybe 20-25’ depending on water pressure), but these are the units they we recommend most often. They’re somewhat light duty in construction, but the small price tag makes them easily replaced if needed. Lastly, it’s nice to be able to quickly change your chemical dilution rate.
Wall Mount Foamer
Benefits: Very thick foam, reaches higher than hose-end foamers, easy to use once installed
Drawbacks: Limited to hose length, expensive, usually not easy to change dilution
Wall mount foamers are a great upgrade from hose end units, assuming you have plenty of hose and install in a central location. This style mixes water, chemical and air at the unit, and sends the actual foam along your hose. This means that you don’t have to carry a heavy chemical reservoir around with you like you would with the previous models. They’ll generate a nice, thick foam that clings for a long time. They’re also nice for reaching taller tanks. The biggest drawback with them is the cost; you’re probably looking at $500 for entry models, which doesn’t include any potential plumbing costs to run a water line.
Air Injected Wall Mount Foamer
We’ll make this one easy: it’s a wall mount unit… on steroids. It’s unmatched in performance, but it’s pretty pricey. And you also must run a compressed air line or air compressor to the unit, driving the cost up even more…but they work great!
Battery Powered Foamer
Benefits: Very mobile, thick foam, easy to use
Drawbacks: Very expensive, requires frequent refills, can’t switch to clean water rinse
Battery foamers are very mobile and produce great foam, but in all honesty, they have most of the same drawbacks as a pump-up foamer, at a much higher price. Since the reservoir must contain pre-diluted chemicals, you’ll be refilling often. You’ll need to rinse with clean water, so you’ll probably have to drag a hose around, thus negating the mobility. Couple these drawbacks with the several thousand-dollar price tag, and you’ll understand why we don’t recommend them often.
A great foaming program can make your brew house sparkle, but you get what you pay for. Pairing proper chemicals (see the first article if you missed it) with quality equipment can make foaming an oddly pleasant task. Contact us today at 800-467-8826 for a free facility review where we’ll customize a program to fit your brewery’s unique needs.