Troubleshooting the T500
The most popular problem with the T500 seems to be when suddenly the wash starts spurting large amounts of water into our previously collected alcohol. It makes it all grey and reduces the strength.
It is best to put this back into the boiler so you can start again.
- No ceramic saddles (in the base of the boiler) or distiller’s conditioner (in the wash), use these for an easy fix.
- Temperature probe in the water outlet block has been pushed in too far. If this is the case the probe will interrupt the water flow and cause this problem. Best to get the water running first through the block at a flow rate of around 400mls per minute. Then gently lower the probe into the block until it’s sitting on the water flow. The best thing to do now is to put some tape around the probe so this can’t happen again in the future. This is the most likely cause and the most common problem we get reported to us. So even if you haven’t had this problem put some on the probe so it won't happen in the future. It is most unlikely but worth trying if all else has failed to strip the column down, removing all the stainless and copper saddles. Clean everything with still cleaner and just check that you have not got any bits that have crept into the outlet block that could cause a blockage (like plastic or broken ceramics).
- The outlet pipe which the alcohol drips from is submerged below the liquid in our collection vessel. It is imperative the alcohol drips from a height into the collecting chamber otherwise we create a back pressure. If the wash is not clear (we do not want it to be black, we can get away with grey) then we can again get this happen. So, make sure you use Turbo Clear as this is a very important product in getting the right quality wash at the start of distilling (both from the clarity and taste point of view).
- The waterflow valve which comes as standard with the condenser is great at controlling the amount of water going into the column. It is important though to make sure the tap its connected to is put on fully (do not reduce the flow) and that you control the flow by using the needle valve in the top of the waterflow valve. Similarly, if you are having problems with the temperature setting on the outlet block you might want to invest in a waterflow Regulatory. This will allow for the changes in pressure that can happen in the normal household (running bath flushing toilet running a tap and similar things).
Not enough strength in the alcohol or small amount collected
The main reason for this is normally the fermentation of the wash has not been good enough and therefore we have not converted all the sugar into alcohol. If it is not there in the first place it’s difficult to extract it. We can only get out what is there. So normal cause of this is poor temperature control in the fermenting vessel.
Make sure the lid is fully sealed and all the clips are pressed down. It is worth checking that no steam is escaping between the lid and the body. This could then actually be alcohol vapours which could explain it, when we have not as much come from the wash as we are hoping for. The solution is to
check the seal on the lid and if necessary, just put a piece of cardboard or something similar under the clips holding the lid in place. The boiler seal will need replacing every so often as well.
Similarly, please make sure the nut holding the column to the lid is well screwed in.
Boiler stops when we get up to the start of distilling
This can happen (including with the Spiritworks Boiler) as it requires you to set a temperature. You might need to increase this temperature. I have many times had this up at 98C plus. Do not think that as alcohol boils off water at 78-82C this is the range we need to set. It’s not, it needs to be much higher than this and depends on the wash we are using. We also must remember the boiler has a cut out so when it reaches our set temperature it will switch itself off and will only cut back in when it has dropped by a few C. So, it needs to be set higher for this purpose. Once you have had a few runs and you have collected the alcohol you can have an experiment with this along with using the two temperature switches. We recommend both are set to on for your first few runs. Get some confidence in the way it works before you start “playing” which we know is fun to many of you.
Botanical basket can cause blockages
Its therefore important if you can have a run using a standard wash first before you apply the basket. This way you can be 100% sure your machine is working well. Once you are happy you can then go with the basket. We need to make sure that we do not overfill it or have too much powder/small items which can clog the bottom of the basket. We must allow the vapours to go through it otherwise we will not be able to collect any alcohol.
On the base of the boiler, you will find a reset button. The boiler has many safety features, and this will be triggered in certain situations. Please check all the working and make sure the boiler always has a minimum of 10 litres of liquid in it when it switches on. Just press the reset button up towards the main body of the machine.
When cleaning the column (look at still cleaning for more details) we would normally pour water down the open end (where the screw nut goes) and let it drip out of the other end. If you think the column acts as a seal where the black cap joins the top of the stainless/copper, it doesn’t - it’s quite normal for water to pour out of this.