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How to clean clogged 1/4" tubing?


SuncrestReef
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I have been doing auto water changes with my DOS and Apex for almost 2 years.  Over the past couple of weeks, I've started noticing a steady decline in salinity, so I assumed my DOS heads were wearing out and ready for replacement.  But after replacing the heads and running the calibration, I saw the Fill head was only pumping about 75% as much as the Drain head.  Closer examination of the tube revealed it's caked on the inside with sediment, similar to the gunk that builds up in my mixing station tank over time.

Any ideas on how to clean or flush 30 feet of 1/4" tubing?  Replacing it is not an option due to the challenge of getting this tubing along with 2 other tubes, an AquaBus cable, and Ethernet cable through the same 3/4" conduit.

My first thought was using string trimmer line with a small brush head attached to shove it through the tube.  Any other ideas?

It's funny, for all the complaints I hear from people about the Apex salinity probe being worthless, it alerted me about this issue right away!

Screen Shot 2020-01-17 at 4.15.40 PM.png

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3 minutes ago, chewie said:

Maybe connect to a pump or PMUP if you have one and run citric acid through it on a loop for an hour or so. 

The only problem with this plan is that the ends of the tube are 30 feet apart in different rooms, so a loop isn't an option.  A PMUP moves 100 gph, so if I used 5 gallon buckets I'd have to babysit it and swap buckets every 3 minutes.  I guess I could use some John Guest couplers and extend the tube to create a loop.

Thanks for the suggestion.

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see what happens to orange gear....  

I would not push a strong trimmer through it, you will just pack the sediment into a big glob and then it will be OVER.  Citric acid could clean it... but you are not really dissolving anything so its not really going to help.  Make suggestion would be an air compressor or, if you are not man enough to own one of those, a can of air.  

You CAN however easily replace it. 

1. Cut the existing tubing about 1 foot short of the conduit.

2. Take the new tubing and hold next to the old tubing.

3.  Wrap both tubes tightly with hardware wire.  Wrap them for a good couple inches.  Tuck the ends of the wire into the ends of the tubing.  

4.  Pull new tubing through the conduit using the old tubing. 

 

I have some REALLY thin wire if you want to give it a try.  It will work just fine. 

 

 

 

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47 minutes ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

see what happens to orange gear....  

I would not push a strong trimmer through it, you will just pack the sediment into a big glob and then it will be OVER.  Citric acid could clean it... but you are not really dissolving anything so its not really going to help.  Make suggestion would be an air compressor or, if you are not man enough to own one of those, a can of air.  

You CAN however easily replace it. 

1. Cut the existing tubing about 1 foot short of the conduit.

2. Take the new tubing and hold next to the old tubing.

3.  Wrap both tubes tightly with hardware wire.  Wrap them for a good couple inches.  Tuck the ends of the wire into the ends of the tubing.  

4.  Pull new tubing through the conduit using the old tubing. 

I have some REALLY thin wire if you want to give it a try.  It will work just fine. 

 

15 minutes ago, The ReefBox said:

John how about getting a John guest 1/4” coupler and attach new line to old line and pull though. That’s what I’ve done in past and works great 

 

Pulling a new tube through the conduit will not be possible.  I crammed 3 x 1/4" tubes, an Ethernet cable, and an AquaBus cable through 3/4" conduit with 5 curves.  The fit was so tight that I had to pull the tubes and cables through each segment of conduit first, then dry fit the conduit segments together later and attach it to the wall.  The conduit comes through the wall behind my tank, so there's absolutely no way to get to it.  It's too tight to pull a single tube through.  If I had used 1" or larger conduit it would be possible.  Below are photos from when I set it up, before the tank was in place.

I'll try compressed air first, then maybe add a long segment of tubing so I can run a loop with a pump in citric acid.  If there's still any buildup left after all that, then I'll probably try the string trimmer line last.

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IMG_2593.JPG

 

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2 minutes ago, The ReefBox said:

Do you know how far back the clog goes?

It's not completely clogged; it just has a lot of buildup inside the tube walls.  Water still flows through, just not at the same rate as the drain water so it throws off the auto water change volumes, which then messes with salinity as the ATO makes up the difference.

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30 minutes ago, Bicyclebill said:

I’ve got a portable air compressor with fitting to do this. I’ve done it through the years with my calcium reactor tubing. That’s my suggestion as well
 

Well, I hate to take you up on that offer since @pdxmonkeyboy challenged my manhood for not owning an air compressor (though I did own a large compressor in the past when I had a full 2-car-garage-sized woodshop with several air powered tools), but if you don't mind I'd appreciate it. 🤓

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2 hours ago, SuncrestReef said:

Well, I hate to take you up on that offer since @pdxmonkeyboy challenged my manhood for not owning an air compressor (though I did own a large compressor in the past when I had a full 2-car-garage-sized woodshop with several air powered tools), but if you don't mind I'd appreciate it. 🤓

Nice save John 👍

I don’t want to be on the outlet side of the line when you fire up that compressor. Maybe you could get @pdxmonkeyboy to hold it for you. 

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Hey john, I can drop me compressor off at cuttlefish if you want. I have this really small one that I use for trim work. Still will blow 100 psi though.

That is unless you made plans with Bill. I dont know if he lives close to you or the shop.

Shoot me a text.

Cheers
Brian

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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John,

I wouldn't stop at the air compressor.  You also need to dissolve whatever remaining gunk is sticking.    I had to take all my plumbing apart after 15 years of buildup in 1" pipes, and a few were >75% closed.   Acid, any variety, is necessary.

  • Do your Air Compressor work
  • Then use John Guest coupler and a newly purchased role of 1/4" tubing from HD or Lowes (like $7) and create a loop back to your fish room.   
    • Use a separate pump, or just temporarily have your DOS do it.    
    • Just decide on the strength & Type acid.   On my pipes, I used Muriatic.  I've used Vinegar.  I haven't used Citric.
    • In this instance, I'd use a muriatic so it could be a touch stronger and take less time.  
  • Finally just flush with regular water for a while, and then cleanout with RO

Personally, I wouldn't bother trying to physically repull any piping.  Just not needed.  This gunk will easily go!

 

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