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Cleaning your loop after bacterial/ algae 'infection' (With pictures)

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have noticed there doesn't seem to be a detailed thread on cleaning your water loop after invasion by bacteria/ algae, only the routine maintenance cleaning of a loop (with vinegar).

So I decided to post my experience with some pictures.

After moving my water cooled i7 system to my new dual radiator ATCS case I decided to strip down my old Cosmos 1000 loop.

I used a blue coolant which had ethylene glycol and as a component amongst other things. Although the drained fluid was perfectly blue, there were signs of 'infection', the transparent tubes had a green tint on them! The XSPC reservoir and mcp 350 pump transparent top clearly had a gunky residue on them too but not as much as the tubing. I also opened the CPU block (Apogee GTZ) and found green growth on the pins. (See pictures.)
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post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 
So how did I clean my loop?

Items that I found useful:

Washing up liquid
Toothbrush (toothpaste not required)
Q- Tips
Distilled water
Paper clip
1 large plastic box
Bleach


The Tubing

Throw it in the bin! They are fairly cheap and you can order more.

The tubing would be a real pain to clean anyway. Using a Q-tip scraping the insides of the tubing had no real effect. It seemed the bacteria/ algae had bonded with the tubing.


Radiators

As the radiators are metal the best way to kill anything in them was to boil distilled water and fill up the radiators and leave for 5 minutes. (Be careful kids, they get hot!) I then repeated this procedure. Afterwards I flushed them with the garden hose and then flushed them with distilled water so they were clean.


Other Components:

Killing with bleach.

The bottle of bleach suggests a 15ml bleach to 5 litres of water to whiten clothing. I decided to use a ratio of 20 parts water: 1 part bleach (e.g. 2 litres of water to 100 mls of bleach) in a large plastic box. The water solution turns opaque white.

In the interest of testing an alternative method I also used bleach on the radiators.

I threw the radiator in the solution with all the fittings, reservoir, and pump top and pump 'centrifuge' and left them overnight (over 12 hours.) (Electric components of course should not be put into the water.) This should kill any bacteria/ algae that are in the components.

In the morning I poured away the water and flushed the items with a garden hose. I found there was small bits of white precipitate in the plastic box (see picture). Hosing the components down and letting them dry showed a slight problem with the radiators.

The Radiators

With the XSPC rs rads there was some white streaking on the paint at both ends of the rad and on some of the fins (see picture). Most of this could be washed off with water and a toothbrush. As the RS rad has 15 fins per inch I found some precipitate had also stuck into the fins, but this could be garden hose washed off.

After this I flushed out the rads with the garden hose to get rid of any precipitate inside rad and then flushed with distilled water. The rad WILL smell slightly of bleach however many times you might wash it!

(Maybe leave the rad in some scented handwash + water?)
Update*: I put the rads in some water with some a few squirts of scented handwash for several hours. On removing, washing and drying the rads, they definitely had less of a bleach smell to them!

Conclusion: As a consequence I cannot recommend the bleaching method for radiators with very high FPI as precipitate might get stuck in the fins. You can use this on low FPI rads but some white streaking may also affect the paintwork, this can mostly be removed with some 'elbow grease'. (This staining was not as apparent on my Black Ice SR1. The RS had cheap paintwork?).

Best solution is to use boiling distilled water in the rad.
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Edited by Teh Noob Slayer - 5/29/10 at 4:10pm
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post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Fittings

You can clean the inside of the fittings with a Q-tip. Personally I did not find anything inside the barbs that was removed while cleaning. The diluted bleach does not seem to have affected the rubber rings.


MCP 350 pump

I cleaned the pump top and spinning 'centrifuge' and pump back section with a toothbrush and distilled water. For the barb section in the pump top I used a Q-tip.


XSPC reservoir

This was the most difficult to clean as it's mainly a sealed system apart from 3 holes. If this was an EK multi option you could take it apart and clean with a toothbrush.

So how do you clean this reservoir? I flushed the reservoir with the garden hose and got rid of some of the gunk but some still remained on the acrylic.

Well you can take some very small and smooth pebbles from your garden or use fish tank pebbles ( as they are usually quite polished and so wont scratch your acrylic. ) Stick them in a glass of boiling water (to kill anything on them) and then stick them in the reservoir with distilled water. Then you shake it all about for 10 mins plus. (Music optional.) As you can see they clean up pretty good! (see Pictures)


Of course now the loop is cleaned up, remember when you rebuild the loop use something like PT PHN additive on a straight distilled water system or PT NUKE on any other system.

Anyway I hope this information helps anyone cleaning their loop.
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post #4 of 25
rice and vinegar is also good to clean reservoir
Edit: I forgot to say that: good guide! but useless to me when I dont have watercooling
Edited by MooMoo - 5/25/10 at 8:04am
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post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MooMoo View Post
rice and vinegar is also good to clean reservoir
Thats a great idea! Any other tips?
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post #6 of 25
Nice "How to". Some good info there.
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post #7 of 25
Cheers for the tips. I will be taking mine apart and to clean it for to add another rad and my gtx480
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post #8 of 25
this will remind me too much of my 55 gallon freshwater fish tank.
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post #9 of 25
That is great or you could have just taken the proper measures from the beginning and not have to worry about the bacterial algae
post #10 of 25
Shouldn't worry about any of this if done first time, other then that good guide.
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