Airlock keeps losing liquid ?

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dragonspeedster

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I have IPA in secondary for 10 days now last two days airlock has became low (3 piece airlock). I used vodka for this batch as well as for the apfelwein sitting next to it. My previous batches i used sterilized water. I re-filled up the airlock to line once already. Rubber stopper seems very tight and once I refill to line center float eventually lifts to top.

Is this simply due to evaporation, water did not do this?

Also should I continue to fill up the airlock with more Vodka?

Any advice would be great

Thanks in advance:)
 

scinerd3000

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personally i use starsan but vodka works for many. Im under the impression that if temperature changes, you can get some suckback through the airlock. Usually this doesnt happen with glass carboys but i dont know what your using...and yes you deffinitly want to keep the airlock "sealed" so as to prevent anything getting in.
 

Parker36

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5 Gallon Glass Carboy, #7 Rubber Solid Stopper, and 3 piece Airlock
So no suck back. It is probably just because the air is dryer in the winter (in most places, don't know where you are) so that lends itself to evaporation more. That coupled with alcohol being more volatile than water is probably your culprit. (not necessarily in that order) I used everclear in my airlock once, it was gone within two days
 
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dragonspeedster

dragonspeedster

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I'm in Michigan... It definitely cold here.

Do I ADD More to the Airlock or just leave it?????

Also how can I tell if it IS or ISN'T suckback?
 

Parker36

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Yes, add more to the airlock. You want it to be up to that little etched line.

Suck back happens if there are either temperature or barometric pressure fluctuations. It is caused by the fermenting vessel changing shape. Think if you squeeze something, it will shoot air out, but when you let go, it will suck back in. Since glass carboys are pretty much solid and won't change shape, it generally doesn't happen to them. It can happen to buckets, though, which is why vodka or starsan are both recommended since they will not hurt the end taste of the beer or kill the yeast. Bleach would be better at keeping the nasties out, but DO NOT use it since the risk of it getting into your beer and ruining it (and possibly your insides) are too great.
 

fratermus

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If you want to be sure no suckage is occurring, try using an S-type airlock next time. The 3pcs are the suckback monsters in my experience.

I do suspect evaporation, though, particularly if it was bubbling pretty good.
 

freflyr

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Yes, add more to the airlock. You want it to be up to that little etched line.

Suck back happens if there are either temperature or barometric pressure fluctuations. It is caused by the fermenting vessel changing shape. Think if you squeeze something, it will shoot air out, but when you let go, it will suck back in. Since glass carboys are pretty much solid and won't change shape, it generally doesn't happen to them. It can happen to buckets, though, which is why vodka or starsan are both recommended since they will not hurt the end taste of the beer or kill the yeast. Bleach would be better at keeping the nasties out, but DO NOT use it since the risk of it getting into your beer and ruining it (and possibly your insides) are too great.
I am curious about this as well. I am about to bottle 2 batches with 4 weeks in the primary. One in a bucket and one in a carboy. The 3 piece airlock on the glass carboy has gone dry two times in the last week and the bucket has not lost any liquid. They have been generally about 70 degrees, but have some fluctuation between 65--73, so I think they should be ok there. These are my first 2 batches in about 15 years, so I am hoping for some early successes!
 

NOISEpollution

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There was a great thread on here the other day about filling an airlock. Who knew there was a technique to it?

Basically, for a three piece you want to fill a bowl with sanitizer solution, disassemble the airlock, and submerge all three pieces in the solution. Assemble the airlock while it's completely submerged under water. When you take it out of the solution it will drip until it reaches the appropriate level. Put it in the fermenter. If the level is still low then top it off with more solution. It should stay and there shouldn't be any suck back.

If that doesn't work, check for cracks in the airlock.
 

BrewHound

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I recently started using vodka in my airlocks after once accidentally dumping a batch of sanitizer before I should have. Works great! I've never had an airlock go completely dry...sounds like a crack somewhere.
 

Dougie63

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how do you get suckback if the liquid is below the exit tube? me scratching my head...
 

BOBrob

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You have the most likely answer already. Temperature fluctuation, winter dryness, barometer or a combination in your part of the country. You may also want to consider 65-73F is usually warm for brewing, especially when you can add5-10 degrees inside the vessel during fermentation. If you are using water in the airlock I would say evaporation. Cheers:)
 
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