Cutting a hole for Primary Fermentation? - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Cutting a hole for Primary Fermentation?

Thread Tools
Old 02-23-2012, 02:32 PM   #1
Feb 2012
St. John, NL
Posts: 18

The bucket that I was given my LHBS had a lid without a hole for the airlock to be placed in. I cut a hole of good size but there is one little knick that you can see where the airlock doesn't completely seal. I know gas will leak from this. Is this going to cause a problem in fermentation? And I am assuming that my airlock will not bubble now?

Also this is my first all grain batch! And I am super excited to see the outcome!

Thank You!

Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2012, 02:37 PM   #2
BIAB Expert Tailor
wilserbrewer's Avatar
May 2007
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
Posts: 9,598
Liked 1396 Times on 1068 Posts

Don't worry, it is really not that critical that the primary be 100% sealed. If it makes you feel better, wrap some plastic cling wrap around the air lock to make seal better, but anyways, you are fine.

Or you could look for a rubber grommet to make a seal, but don't think I would bother.

D-AB Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2012, 02:39 PM   #3
maffewl's Avatar
Jan 2011
Auburn, Alabama
Posts: 1,087
Liked 38 Times on 27 Posts

A hole wasn't necessary. Plenty of us have used buckets with a loose lid to ferment. Remember, the only point of an airlock is to allow the co2 to escape or "leak" without letting the outside air carry other things in. But since you already cut the hole, if you cut it to the airlock size and there is a gap... I would suggest cutting a larger hole with a spade bit or hole cutter and using a drilled rubber stopper. That should plug the hole and allow for an airlock.

Digital Temperature Controller build:
Click Here

Bottle Cutter build:
Click Here

People Like This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2012, 02:42 PM   #4
JesseRC's Avatar
Oct 2008
San Antonio
Posts: 1,766
Liked 11 Times on 10 Posts

usually the hole is cut a little larger to accomadate a rubber grommet. Even then sometimes finding the correct grommet is troublesome and over time the hole cracked on mine. What I did was cut a 1" hole (hole saw, not exactly sure on the size) and use a better bottle stopper with hole for my airlock. Works perfectly and the 1" hole is perfect for peeking and not opening the lid.

**Just realized maffewl beat me to it on the rubber stopper idea. Trust me it works perfect. My suggestion is buy the rubber stopper first then find a hole bit that matches before you drill.

Primaries: Mojave Red (AG)
Kegs: Hibiscus Saison (AG), Orange Kolsch (AG) , Cocunut Porter
Future Brew: Wee Heavy

Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2012, 02:42 PM   #5
stratslinger's Avatar
Dec 2010
Terryville, CT
Posts: 2,490
Liked 212 Times on 177 Posts

Actually, the concern isn't so much gas leaking out, as other things getting in... During the most active phases of fermentation, there's a healthy amount of CO2 coming out of there that should prevent other stuff from falling in (though it might not prevent small insects, like fruit flies, from entering!). But once fermentation slows down, or once you're into the conditioning phase of fermentation, dust particles could potentially fall into there. Unlikely? Sure. But it could happen.

Your safest be would be to find a way to seal that gap up - drill out a larger hole and install a grommet for your airlock, maybe?

Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2012, 02:51 PM   #6
Pie_Man's Avatar
Aug 2011
Gainesville, FL
Posts: 1,369
Liked 138 Times on 130 Posts

You can ferment in a bucket without an airlock. Basically the fermenting beer produces CO2 which is heavier than air and creates a barrier to help keep out bad things. This method might increase the likelihood of contamination slightly, but I wouldn't worry too much. About the airlock bubbling, I guess it depends on the size of the hole near it. The airlock needs pressure to bubble up.

I personally wouldn't stress about it too much, but you may want to move up in fermenter at some point, or fix the hole like mentioned above. Welcome to the hobby and the forum.

D-AB Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2012, 03:01 PM   #7
krazydave's Avatar
Aug 2010
Santa Clarita, California
Posts: 925
Liked 32 Times on 30 Posts

I second the holesaw and stopper idea if it bothers you. Or if you can find a grommet of the proper size, that'll work also.

Though I seriously doubt you'll get an infected batch from that little knick, sometimes peace of mind is worth the extra work.

Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012, 06:11 PM   #8
Feb 2012
St. John, NL
Posts: 18

Thanks all!

I will leave it be for this batch seeing there is no real opposing threat. Once the bucket is free I will cut a bigger hole (with a hole saw), plug it and drill to fit an airlock! I like to have things as perfect at I can get them, and yeah it just adds to the peace of mind!

Thanks again, it was all great advice!

Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012, 06:42 PM   #9
helibrewer's Avatar
Nov 2011
Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 3,808
Liked 324 Times on 274 Posts

Soak a wash cloth or rag in StarSan and wrap it around the base of the airlock stopper, swap it out when it dries out.
Something is always fermenting....
"It's Bahl Hornin'"

Kegged: Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
On Deck: German Lager

Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012, 07:20 PM   #10
Jan 2012
Calgary, AB
Posts: 102

I found a spade bit run in reverse to be a good cheap tool for the job. Since rubber is soft I would try clean and round the cut with a knife to seal the airlock

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Primary Bucket - Ok for extended primary fermentation? GonzoIllini Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 13 10-26-2011 02:08 AM
Primary fermentation Hose Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 7 02-16-2011 08:46 PM
cutting hole in better bottle joelsbrew Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 4 12-22-2010 02:21 PM
Primary Fermentation Shamrock28 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 9 06-14-2009 11:37 PM
Primary Fermentation jrabenhorst Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 22 02-02-2006 11:30 PM

Forum Jump