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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Dirty Airlock
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:56 PM   #1
lazysunday
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Default Dirty Airlock

I'm back with another question! So I checked the ferment bucket last night and I had spill-over in my airlock. I moved the bucket to a clean place and removed the air lock, washed it, filled it with clean, cool tap water, and replaced it.

When I checked again this morning, the water was dirty. No spill-over, but definitely heading that direction. I currently don't have the set up to tube spill-over in to a bucket. Any thoughts?

I moved the bucket to an even cooler place, as per responses to my other thread. The room temp is about 60 degrees F, the bucket is at 64-66.

When this happens, is it okay to keep washing the airlock and replacing the water to the fill line?

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Old 04-09-2013, 05:01 PM   #2
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When this happens, is it okay to keep washing the airlock and replacing the water to the fill line?
I imagine it would be ok, but probably better to put a blow-off tube on it. You should be able to get the tube locally.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:02 PM   #3
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Yes it is ok to do that....but, you are risking a big mess. If your airlock gets clogged and the pressure builds inside the vessel, something is going to give. You don't want to clean this up do you?

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Old 04-09-2013, 05:02 PM   #4
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I imagine it would be ok, but probably better to put a blow-off tube on it. You should be able to get the tube locally.
Awesome, thanks. Now that I think about it, I might be able to just plug my siphoning tube over the air escape in my air lock, into a bucket of water. Do you think that would be sufficient?
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:04 PM   #5
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A couple of things. You will be fine washing and replacing the lock but you need to sanitize it each time. A spray bottle of Star San is always good to have around! You should also be filling the airlock with either Star San or cheap liquor. It wont matter if it gets sucked back into your brew and it keeps nasty stuff from growing and getting to your beer. Finally, you could pick up a couple of feet of clear vinyl tubing from any hardware store for a couple bucks tops. Then just remove the cap and little inner piece from the airlock and slide the tubing over the post sticking up. 1/2" tubing works great for a cheap and quick blow off.

Good luck and welcome to your new addiction!

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Old 04-09-2013, 05:11 PM   #6
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If you are getting krausen into your airlock, it's only a matter of time before a blowoff will become necessary.

If you don't have the 1 inch tube needed for the typical carboy blowoff, you may be able to make a jury rigged blowoff. If you have a 3 piece airlock (i.e. the kind with the floater inside), take the top lid off, take the floater out. Force your tubing onto the little pipe in the airlock. Put the other end of your hose into a bucket/bowl/whatever filled with sanitizer.

I used this method for a couple of brews. It works, as long as the narrow airlock tube part doesn't get blocked.

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Old 04-09-2013, 05:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TANSTAAFB View Post
A couple of things. You will be fine washing and replacing the lock but you need to sanitize it each time. A spray bottle of Star San is always good to have around! You should also be filling the airlock with either Star San or cheap liquor. It wont matter if it gets sucked back into your brew and it keeps nasty stuff from growing and getting to your beer. Finally, you could pick up a couple of feet of clear vinyl tubing from any hardware store for a couple bucks tops. Then just remove the cap and little inner piece from the airlock and slide the tubing over the post sticking up. 1/2" tubing works great for a cheap and quick blow off.

Good luck and welcome to your new addiction!
Thanks! I appreciate all the feedback! I ran home and grabbed my bottler tubing, sanitized it, forced it into the 3 piece airlock and dropped the other end into a bucket with the last of my starter sanitizer.

Any recommendations about changing the water out? I suppose I'll just do it every day.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:16 PM   #8
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If you have the tube in Sanitizer you can leave it unless it gets really dirty. I usually look to see if it is still blowing off and leave the dirty Sanitizer until I quit seeing yeast being pushed through the tubing. Then I clean and sanitize the lock and tubing and replace the Sanitizer in the container. Once blow off is over you can even just clean and replace the airlock (filled with Sanitizer of course!)

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Old 04-09-2013, 07:37 PM   #9
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Agree, no need to change it out often.

Just don't leave krausen-infused water sitting there for, say, a month... unless you like growing mold and/or interesting pelliciles.

Don't ask me how I know.

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Old 04-10-2013, 06:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by lazysunday View Post
Awesome, thanks. Now that I think about it, I might be able to just plug my siphoning tube over the air escape in my air lock, into a bucket of water. Do you think that would be sufficient?
One caution: a lot of airlocks have a semi-closed bottom, with a cross shaped opening. You'll need this to be fully open. Some folks just break off the tabs that close over the end.
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