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airspirit 04-28-2003 10:39 AM

Sick Algae Buildup
It looks like the insides of my tubing is growing chickenpox or herpes or something. Bright red splotches are appearing on the tubing. I killed the last batch of algae by adding Hyperlube, but I guess there was a strain in there that actually LIKES it.

Question: what is the best flush chemical to get rid of organic deposits? I don't care about toxicity issues (i.e. methanol) or nothing, as it will just be for a three hour flush/burn run. I want to ensure that my system is free of gunk before I refill it with new coolant.

Also, is there a good chem to wash the inside of the tubing that WON'T be a bastard to flush out? I'm thinking of soap or something. I want to get my system completely cleaned ....

BillA 04-28-2003 11:15 AM

I'm all ears as well

but a few conditions:
must NOT 'eat' at copper or brass (not after an etching soln)
must do more than kill algae, it has to remove the residue as well

please do not post your thoughts or loopy ideas
post what you have actual experience with, and how well - or not - it works

from my experience:
bleach (sodium hypo) is bad
acetic acid (vinegar) is bad
Simple Green is absorbed into the tubing, loosens everything - but won't remove it (scrubbing is needed)
- then it takes about 10 days and many flushings to wash out

I'm looking at looong bottle brushes (13' loop with LOTS of fittings), plus boiling water

JSimmons 04-28-2003 11:29 AM

Re: Sick Algae Buildup

Originally posted by airspirit
It looks like the insides of my tubing is growing chickenpox or herpes or something. Bright red splotches are appearing on the tubing. I killed the last batch of algae by adding Hyperlube, but I guess there was a strain in there that actually LIKES it.
Did you use distilled water? (just curious)

BillA 04-28-2003 11:44 AM

Re: Re: Sick Algae Buildup

Originally posted by JSimmons
Did you use distilled water? (just curious)
off topic
is this an answer ?
distilled water is not an algaecide

bigben2k 04-28-2003 12:00 PM

No Bill. JSimmons is trying to find the cause for the benefit of all, to avoid reproducing the same conditions.

Airspirit: what ever happened to your Pine-Sol solution?

I'll have to try the Jet-Dry again, to see if it helps any, but I don't foresee a solution to your problem. Some people report using CLR succesfully, to clear the white stuff, but I've also seen people report it as useless and/or inconvenient. I wouldn't try it.

JSimmons 04-28-2003 12:08 PM

1) How is it off-topic when he didn't specify whether he used tap water or distilled? It would be nice if we started with all of the pertinent facts.

2) About two weeks ago, someone mentioned something in pill form they got at an aquarium store that they use to inhibit algea, but I don't recall what it was.

BillA 04-28-2003 12:21 PM

you are both fools

this is about cleaning, read the initial post

google on algae growth if its new to you
this is not about the 'why' or 'how' of algae growth

you think airspirt is using diesel ?
get a grip, or did you want a culture sample ?

as ever you contribute little more than distraction

to both of you:
who cares what you think, or have seen someone (?) else posting;
please speak form direct experience - or read only and perhaps learn something
(Null-A, you of course are exempt from learning)

JSimmons 04-28-2003 01:05 PM


Originally posted by unregistered
you are both fools
I'm fairly new here, and I honestly don't want to create hate and discontent between myself and someone that might be more knowledgable than me, but...

As far as I'm concerned Bill, if you're going to continue to be an anal pore, you can bite my big hairy root.

He didn't specifically mention it, and there's been a lot of other discussion about people using tap water. Are we supposed to just devine the information for some sort of magic cosmic f*cking void?

Spiritair - try using alcohol to clean the system.

airspirit 04-28-2003 01:11 PM

I'm running 90% distilled water 10% hyperlube. Last night I added about 5% volume of lab grade Isopropanol to no effect. CLR is an interesting idea, though does it kill algae? I know it works wonders on lime deposits and won't hurt copper, though lime deposits are NOT my problem at all. I have absolutely NO corrosion or lime issues whatsoever.

Would an aquatic borne antibiotic such as erythomycin (sp?) help? I'd hate to shell out on something that has no chance of working.

I'll google it, Bill. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of that earlier.

airspirit 04-28-2003 01:14 PM

Oh, and Ben: I've never used Pine-Sol, though that is also an entertaining possibility to correct this. The ammonia in it would kill the gunk (if I'm not mistaken), though I worry if it may damage some of my components (PVC glue, though that's a LONG shot).

I guess there is one more requirement: since I'm pumping at such high force and volume, something that readily foams up would not be preferrable. The last thing I need is my five gallons of coolant turning into 200 cubic meters of foam.

airspirit 04-28-2003 01:16 PM

One more point: in my setup it would be impossible to use brushes. I currently have over 50 feet of tubing used as well as long sections of glued PVC and a massive radiator that are uncleanable by mechanical means. I don't want to just clean the tubes and then watch the aquatic scabies spread to them again (not to mention that disassembling the whole system would be a royal pain in the ass).

bigben2k 04-28-2003 01:33 PM

(NOT speaking from experience)

Ideally, you'd want to use an alcohol to kill the existing growies, but you're still stuck with a residue.

Normally, you'd use chlorine (aka bleach) to clear it up, but that's definitely not a good idea, because of the other components involved.

Sorry, I just can't think of anything. If you were able to isolate the metallic components, bleach would take care of it. Otherwise, I keep thinking about a solution with some solids in it, but that would be a no no as well.

BillA 04-28-2003 01:36 PM

the active ingredient in Pine Sol is phenol, pretty effective stuff
but again is not going to remove the (hopefully) dead gunk
and I think removal is the key to the issue

autoclaving is how sterilization is done
look at food processing piping, it is made up with couplings so it can be disassembled and cleaned
once contaminated, I have yet to find an effective means of sludge removal w/o physical scrubbing

I now have fair experience with Ciba-Geigy "Simazine", sold to the fish people as "Algae Destroyer"
'seems' to work, BUT forms a scum - which then plates out on all surfaces

I recently installed a 20ยต pleated filter and it is removing tons of crap - but how many tons remain ?

now if we can hear from those with experience ??
- and not the clowns with questions and 'ideas'

BillA 04-28-2003 01:39 PM


Originally posted by bigben2k
(NOT speaking from experience)

Ideally, you'd want to use an alcohol to kill the existing growies, but you're still stuck with a residue.

Normally, you'd use chlorine (aka bleach) to clear it up, but that's definitely not a good idea, because of the other components involved.

Sorry, I just can't think of anything. If you were able to isolate the metallic components, bleach would take care of it. Otherwise, I keep thinking about a solution with some solids in it, but that would be a no no as well.

post 4461

a real contribution

RabidMoose 04-28-2003 01:39 PM

I use these in cleaning glass and plasticware of organic deposites here in the lab. Both rinse easily and I have seen no staining of Nalgene brand plastics (only ones I use) or metal corrosion (however, most of my equipment is stainless steel).
Specifically, Extran AP 41.

While I have not tried this product, it has been reccomended to me for cleaning tough organic growth.

Frankly, for home use, water and a scrub brush is probably your best option. Isopropyl alchohol (most any alchohol, really) can be used to kill algea (edit: actually, I suspect you are seeing cyanobacteria), however it precipitates proteins and DNA/RNA, leaving you wielding that scrub brush anyway.

long brushes:

BillA 04-28-2003 01:50 PM

thanks RabidMoose

good to hear from a 'pro'
nice links

airspirit 04-28-2003 01:51 PM

As far as flushing the gunk out when dead, I was planning on opening the bottom water tower drain valve to 50%, running a garden hose into the top of the res, and leaving the pump on to purge the system of goo. I will be leaving my radiator bypass all the way open for a portion of this to maximise flow through the rest of the system (about 800 GPH with 100% bypass). I figure that after an hour of flushing like this I'll be 100% gunk free, or as close to it as I can be without complete removal and manual cleaning.

Those chemicals in the last post look interesting, though the high pH kind of scares me with some of the materials in my system. I'd be afraid of doing some damage to the seals in it. I've used some similar chems before and I've seen first hand the damage they can do on materials they weren't meant to clean. Very effective, but very scary (*OHMIGOD IT'S IN MY EYES!*).

I'm not worried about the garden hose method liming up my system, because I will be doing a dilute CLR flush afterwards, a distilled flush after that, and then reupping my res with distilled/hyperlube/*insert specific biocide here* when done.

With the amount invested in my beast, I can afford to work at this for 10 hours and be thorough.

Am I hearing that Pine Sol might kill this stuff, Bill? I'm pretty sure that it shouldn't hurt my seals at all ... now that I remember that my house's drainage pipes are glued PVC.

On a humorous note: is it possible I'm getting RED TIDE in my WATER COOLING SYSTEM? No clams for you!

BillA 04-28-2003 02:11 PM

I am posting here because I do NOT know, take my comments as info to be checked out

one must ask if this is a DIY thing, or a commercial activity
understand that while I play in the DIY sandbox, such is not my interest
words I like are "bulletproof", "mil spec", and "100,000hrs MTBF"

DIYers use water plus whatever
commercial systems use glycol and design the system appropriately to 'take the hit'

I have now 3 years of fighting 'slime in the ice machine' and wish to stop such
designing the system for disassembly, and scheduled cleaning, is one approach
using an inert stable coolant another

I suspect I will be designing commercial server WCing installations soon (168 CPUs, etc)
which route do you think I will be taking ?

I can definitively tell you that flushing will NOT get the crap out
nor will high temp flushing
nor ANY solution I have tried

no silver bullet
listen to what RabidMoose said, gonna have to scrub (I do)

airspirit 04-28-2003 02:25 PM

I have to ask for the sake of argument: I've talked to a few aquarium gurus and they've all come back with the same answer: bleach. What makes bleach unacceptable in a watercooling system? Does it corrode the copper? Eat the tubing? How does it hurt things, or are you not recommending it because it just doesn't work?

I'm thinking about adding a 20% mix of glycol to the solution during my next final fill: will this help prevent algae buildup? I realize my temps will suffer for it, but I'm desperate to never be in this position again.

BillA 04-28-2003 02:45 PM

chemical resistance is related to concentration, temp, and exposure time
bleach is sodium hypochlorite and the stuff in supermarkets is 2.4 to 6%
(and you thought it was all the same, eh ?)

do use google to evaluate what you are putting into your system vs. all the matls in your system

6% bleach and copper will turn your water black pronto, and cause verdigris on the brass bits
not good (the goal is to clean, not etch)
a chemist can detail what's happening far better than I

- the fish guys have NO copper (nor brass I think)
and bleach will not remove adhered gunk, same old problem

20 to 25% glycol is good (do NOT mix the old green and new pink stuff, not compatible)
I think the pink is less (non ?) toxic

airspirit 04-28-2003 02:49 PM

That makes perfect sense. I wasn't aware there would be such a ... profound reaction.

bikr 04-28-2003 02:54 PM

aquariums sell a liquid bacteria that is completely clear and will eat all of the algea when it's all gone the bacteria will eventually die.. it's microscopic and you can't even tell it's in there. . doesn't change heating properties, i'd suggest adding a bit , letting it run then completely doing a 100% liquid swap after it's run it's course for a week.. or so.. --Josh

BillA 04-28-2003 03:05 PM

people sell many things . . . .
have you used it ?

bikr 04-28-2003 03:16 PM

sorry... yes , but it was for something other then algae.. in one of my rigs i built up a nice collection of primitive sea life.. I wish I had some algae at that point.. =).. It ate the brown mess completely gone in about 4 days gave it 3 extra days to make sure all the internals of the pump, rest , etc.. places I couldn't see were taken care of too. --Josh

airspirit 04-28-2003 04:00 PM

That sounds VERY interesting. Very interesting indeed. I'll look into that and possibly try it before trying the "big boy" chems like RabidMoose suggested. It seems a bit safer, and I imagine it will prolly clear some of the collected organic material off of internal surfaces. I'll definitely read on it before trying it, though.

I had another idea, for those familiar with my doom-box: if I was to remove the PCs from the loop and remove the hoses from one of the barbs on each block, I'd have a completely open system. By using a couple of hoses I could potentially keep the system filled while constantly jettisoning the old coolant and assorted gunk from it. If I was to let medium concentration ammonia sit in the system for a while, do you think it would eat at the gunk enough for 800GPH high pressure flow to push the majority of it out? If I can get the majority out, then I think by using a growth inhibiting mixture (like glycol, hyperlube, and antibiotics), I could prevent further spread from the small amounts of crap left in the loop.

What do you think of that? ... Or is ammonia going to eat my components as well? Naturally, I'd like to go with the carnivorous bacteria idea before introducing strange chems into my system, but I'm pretty desperate.

satanicoo 04-28-2003 04:15 PM

i have an aquarium that gets algae many times. i have used all kind of products, but sooner or later, they appear.

but to kill everithing and to make sure it takes ALOT of time to them apear again, make this:

put the tubing, pump, filters and all of the water system in a hot dry air ambient during a week.

it works for me.

airspirit 04-28-2003 04:37 PM

I can't drop the system for a week or I'll have a lot of p!ssed off customers in my neighborhood, or I'd try that.

Bikr: I can't find the product you're describing. Any links?

I have two more ideas that I was given from another aquarium shop:

Idea 1: Erythomycin. I really don't want to use this as my wife is DEATHLY allergic to it. They suggested that maybe this is bacterial growth rather than algae ... I don't know, it's worth a shot, I guess.

Idea 2: Deck Algae/Moss cleaner. This stuff is supposed to kill and dissolve the stuff. I'm leery of it until I can read the chemical list and try to figure out what damage it can cause. I may just end up adding this in 25% solution to my loop and running it for an hour or two to see what happens.

I don't know if any of these things will work. Any ideas?

airspirit 04-28-2003 04:45 PM

I think this is what Bikr was talking about:

Looks very interesting. If it indeed breaks down organic materials, this may do the trick for me. I'm going to do more research on this first.

By the way, it appears that ammonia is THE ULTIMATE solvent for copper. That idea is out!

bikr 04-28-2003 04:57 PM

yes.. I'm glad you saw that .. ahah I was just about to dis-reccomend ammonia.. not only will it destory copper but in a closed system , it'll breathe fumes and blow the weakest point , most likely your tubing.. not a pretty site.. that isn't the same brand if I remember correcctly but the L series seems to be the exact same thing --Bikr

airspirit 04-28-2003 05:25 PM

Okay, I talked to a hot tub specialist and I'm going to be picking up some sanitizer solution tonight. It is supposed to kill EVERYTHING ... in fact, it is similar to what surgeons scrub with before operating. I'm going to drain and fully flush my system, run it with some Pine Sol for about an hour, drain and fully flush again, and then load it with distilled water and this sanitizer along with some erythomycin, though I think the antibiotic will get destroyed by the sanitizer ... but I'm going to pull out all stops just in case. Once done and run for a couple of days, I'm going to once again drain/flush, run with Pine Sol, and then fill up with distilled/Hyperlube/sanitizer, and then hopefully be fine.

Tonight I'll try to put up a couple of pics of the stuff before I break it down. God I hope this works. I'll keep you guys tuned in, and keep bringing ideas in case this one turns out to be a flop.

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