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Old 04-29-2012, 11:59 PM   #1
Han_Solo
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Default Is my fermenter airtight?

So I have the wort in the primary fermenter. I added the yeast last night and I can hear that there is activity, but the airlock is pretty inactive. Is there a "wait period" that must pass in order for the airlock to get going? Or is it possible that there is not enough pressure to where it needs to be pushed out through the stop?

I only ask because i felt the the lid seemed to fit on pretty loosely. It didn't snap either on nor off even though it did seem securely fastened to the bucket.

Anyone have any advice? Should I just let it sit for a few more days?

For what its worth I am fermenting in one of those white buckets that say "deluxe fermenter" and has a fermometer on the side.

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Old 04-30-2012, 12:06 AM   #2
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Your lid should snap on pretty tightly. I use a plastic mallet to make sure it's fully engaged. I wouldn't worry about it too much though--there's enough CO2 coming out to keep anything from coming in.

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I had no problems whatsoever getting my pee to ferment.
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:07 AM   #3
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What does fermentation sound like?

Don't rely on your airlock. There is often a lag time of up to 72 hours (don't know how much yeast you added, how fresh it was, what kind of beer you added it to, etc.). Continue to wait. If the lid appeared loose, then it probably is, and CO2 will escape through there -- it is going to seek the easiest way out.

In any event, you are fine. As long as no nasties are getting into your beer, then it will turn out fine. If you continue to be nervous about it, take a gravity reading. Then take another in 2 days. I believe you will find your SG has dropped.

You will probably also start seeing some activity in your airlock, as the CO2 is looking for every possible exit.

Really, the only concern about the loose lid is that if this was a big beer, you may get some kraeusen oozing out from around the lid. And the only issue of that is that it is messier to clean up. Put your fermenter in a larger tub or dish pan, then it is fine.

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Old 04-30-2012, 12:15 AM   #4
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I hope not....It's not supposed to be.

An airlock is a VENT a valve to release EXCESS co2...A "leaky lid" does the same thing. A fermenter is not an air tight environment. You can't have airtight, AND a situation where you don't have an explosion, unless you're fermenting in a conical or a keg....You NEED to release the built up pressure somehow.

Whatever means used to achieve that end is fine. The yeast don't care. In fact many folks with arthitis and other issues don't snap the lid down on their buckets anyway, and may folks just put tinfoil, plastic wrap, metal cookie sheets or even plexiglass sheets on top of the bucket instead.Some folks just use a blowoff tube exclusively. It's really not crucial to be tight.

You're making the mistake of equating airlock bubbling with "active fermentation" that's really not what they mean.

Fermentation is not always dynamic...just because you don't SEE anything happening doesn't mean that the yeast aren't happily chewing away at whatever fermentables are in there....the only way to know comes from gravity readings, and nothing else.

Your airlock is NOT a fermentation gauge, despite what instructions or other people may have said. It is a VENT, and VALVE to release EXCESS co2 as needed. The amount of bubbles have no correlation to some concrete rate of fermentation. Initially there may be lots of bubbles, because lots of co2 is being generated in the first few days of fermentation. But eventually there's going to be less EXCESS co2 being produced, that doesn't mean fermentation is done, it just means that since most of the sugars have been consumed, the yeast are farting co2 less. SO the rate may change, or it may stop completely because there's no EXCESS being produced.

That's why you need to seperate the idea of bubbling = fermentation from your mindset.

Don't stress about what an airlock does or doesn't do. The rate or lack of or whether or not it bubbles at all, or if it starts and stops has more relation to the environment the fermenter is in, rather than fermentation itself. All it is is a vent, a valve to let our excess gas, especially co2, nothing else. It's not a fermentation gauge whatsoever.

It could just as easily be bubbling or stop bubbling for that matter, due to changes in barometric pressure, temperature, or whether or not the cat or vacuum cleaner bumped into it, as it could be to because it's still fermenting.

Activity, action, bubbles, even krausen can be affected by the envoironment just as much as it being caused by the yeast...so going by that is NOT reliable.

If you want to know what's going on with your beer, then take a gravity reading. The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

In truth the yeast RARELY fails us, though airlock OFTEN do.

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Old 04-30-2012, 12:31 AM   #5
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I stopped worrying about lids for primary fermentation. One of my favorite fermenters is a 100+ year old crock my great grandma made pickles and beer in! I just cover it with saran wrap as I do my buckets. If your sanitation is good you should have nothing to worry about. I like being able to see what is going on and ease or access to take samples and sniffs without making a mess opening a bucket lid. Secondary is where you would want a good sanitary seal.

Just make sure you have a way to secure the saran wrap. I had a waggy dog tail knock it off once.

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Old 04-30-2012, 12:59 AM   #6
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Saran wrap is one of my mortal enemies. Can't ever get the stuff to work right. Pretty sure it's pure evil.

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Old 04-30-2012, 01:06 AM   #7
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Sometimes when making wine after fermentation but before we can press, we put a layer of Saran wrap right down over the surface of the wine...it does a nice job of keeping air and other stuff off the wine.

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Old 04-30-2012, 01:27 AM   #8
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Lots of good stuff in here. Thanks to everyone for your response.

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Old 04-30-2012, 05:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenshead
Your lid should snap on pretty tightly. I use a plastic mallet to make sure it's fully engaged. I wouldn't worry about it too much though--there's enough CO2 coming out to keep anything from coming in.
Ok so after reading how you used a mallet to seal I pushed as hard as I could on the lid and finally got it to seal and - whaddya know - the airlock started bubbling almost instantaneously.
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:52 PM   #10
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To save your fingernails, I'd reccomend getting a bucket opener to open it. They're like $4.00 in the paint section of HD.

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I had no problems whatsoever getting my pee to ferment.
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