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Broke a Carboy Today.

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I've heard of several people braking their carboys, but this it my first time. And I spent the afternoon in the hospital because of it. I was washing it after kegging the batch, and for no apparent reason, the bottom just fell off. I was turning it over to drain, and while my arm was under it, it broke. It cut my wrist, severing a tendon and possibly a nerve. It was half full - or half empty, depending on how you view life - and water splashed everywhere. I noticed that there was a lot of red water too. I didn't know why, until I noticed that I had a new eye on my wrist. It turned out that it wasn't an eye, but a deep cut. Blood was just pouring out. Being home alone, I decide that I'll take an ambulance ride. The doc said I'm going to need surgery to repair the tendon, and I'm not looking forward to that.

So, the moral of the story it to be very careful when cleaning glass carboys.
 

bradsul

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Wow! Glad to hear you're going to be OK despite the surgery!

Do I get to be the first to say; better bottles FTW? :)

Seriously though, glad you came through it, could have been much worse.
 

Yooper

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That's almost exactly what happened to one of my friends. She lifted the 6.5 gallon carboy, and it just broke, severing a tendon in her wrist. She didn't think I was home, so she drove herself to the ER. She's got quite a scar now, and several Better Bottles.
 

Yooper

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Yeah, I'm really thinking of doing something else instead of glass. I'm thinking of a conical fermentor, but I'll have to see what all this is going to cost me.

Damn, it'd hard to type with one hand...
I always type with one hand. One to type, one to hold the beer. The sad part is you have to drink with only one hand! It will be hard to operate a bottle opener, especially with all those pain killers. Be careful!

Seriously, I'm sorry to hear about this. Get better fast!
 
OP
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Thanks Yoop, unfortunately I'm not drinking tonight. But, the good news is that I don't need a bottle opener since I keg my beer. I just won't have perfect pours until I can use both hands.

It makes it even harder since I'm right handed. Guess which arm is affected.
 

wilserbrewer

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Sorry to hear about the accident. Hopefully others will take notice and steer away from glass.

Ironically, the guy at my LHBS about a year ago insisted that glass is really the best and only way to go...when I mentioned the inherent danger...he just looked at me funny.

I got off easy a few years ago when I fumbled a big glass salad bowl during cleanup of a large party, nice cut on the finger that just wouldn't heal and hurt for a month, a little self surgery removed a sliver of glass and all was good.

Here's to a speedy recovery and wisdom gained.:mug:
 
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Sorry to hear that story and hope the surgery goes well. This just reinforces my then-slightly-wishy-washy decision to buy two 5 gal Better Bottles a few weeks ago. My brewing buddies still have quite a few glass ones. I'll be extra careful when handling. Thanks for the warning and recover quickly.
 

Zen_Brew

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Take good care of that injury.

That just really sucks. I mean you take it for granted that there is always the drop hazard with glass carboys, and with how slippery they get with oxyclean and what not, but when the bottom just falls off, not much you can do to avoid that. I wonder what kind of QA they undergo after manufacturing? Of course even that wouldn't prevent stress damage from shipping. Just not worth it.

Don't get spastic, brew with plastic. :)
 

DeafSmith

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I'm really sorry to hear about your injury. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

After hearing about these carboy accidents, I've gotten religious about only using a milk crate or Brewhauler to lift my one glass carboy (all my new purchases are Better Bottles) when it has more than a half gallon of liquid - I even siphon out the cleaning solution. However, I still find it necessary to turn it upside down, as you were doing, to drain the last bit out. In the interest of preventing this from happening to others, are there any contributing factors that you can think of? Was the water hot and the carboy cool (or vice versa)? Had the carboy been bumped against something? Anything you can think of?
 

Homercidal

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I've still got two. One 6 gallon, and one 3 gallon. I have a few plastic bottles too, but rarely use them since I rarely secondary. Those glass ones are always slipping and sliding around in my hands.
 

springer

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Damn sorry to hear about your injury. I really think I will retire the glass carboy although I do have a nice accident policy that pays very well.... Nah not worth it
 

Pronay

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Glad to hear your ok (relatively), I have 1 glass carboy and 3 better bottles, I rarely use the carboy. I've broken a 1 gallon jug when the bottom fell out full of liquid and I ended up cutting my finger pretty bad, they are razor sharp edges when the bottom breaks off
 

slykwilli

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sorry to hear about your accident. I was going to stop at the LHBS this week to buy a 6.5 (upgrading from buckets) but you have me thinking more about BB... hmm
 

stevehaun

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I used all glass carboys until I heard several stories like this one. I switched to plastic buckets for primary and kegs for secondary. Buckets are great. Easy to carry - they have a handle. Easy to clean - big opening. Won't cut you. If you are worried about infections from scratches, replace them once a year. They cost about one third the amount of a glass carboy. IMHO, once you get over your fascination of watching a fermentation, there really is no reason to use anything but a plastic bucket.

I hope your surgery is successful!
 

purechaos

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i have been using my auto siphon to drain out most of the cleaner/sanitizer from my carboys so when i handle them they have ~1 gallon left in them, i also have them in milk crates or carboy haulers, i also always put them on top of a foam fatigue work mat rather than any other surface to keep them from getting damaged/broken.

i just bought a plastic barrel from us plastics, and will likely lean that way in the future. i have a couple buckets but am not really a fan of them other than for mixing up sanitizer and carrying gear.
 

ChshreCat

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I'll never use a glass carboy because I wouldn't trust my 15 year old to wash it without getting hurt, so if I had glass then I couldn't make her to all the clean-up. :D
 

rico567

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Take good care of that injury.

That just really sucks. I mean you take it for granted that there is always the drop hazard with glass carboys, and with how slippery they get with oxyclean and what not, but when the bottom just falls off, not much you can do to avoid that. I wonder what kind of QA they undergo after manufacturing? Of course even that wouldn't prevent stress damage from shipping. Just not worth it.

Don't get spastic, brew with plastic. :)
I'm making the move to BBs. Two of my four carboys are now Better Bottles, and the glass ones are relegated strictly to long-term secondary use. But after reading the OP, I may dry to dispose of them locally to somebody who still swears by glass, and just get a couple more BBs.
Glass is a wonderful material, has all kinds of great characteristics. But the answer to the question about QA above is...not much, because there's not much to be done. See that there are no cracks or bubbles in the finished product, that's about it. The problem is that glass is not an actual solid, nor is is a liquid; it's classed as an "amorphous" material.
You COULD make a carboy out of tempered glass, which has trade names like Pyrex™, etc., like the Ehrlenmeyer flasks some people buy to cultivate yeast. But if you take the price of those flasks and translate them to a 5-6 gallon carboy, the price would be prohibitive.
I'm just thankful there's an alternative.
 

rcrabb22

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I hope the surgery went well today. I started using 6 gal Winpaks from US Plastics after reading you post. As was said before it's one thing to drop or bump it, it's another to have them break in your arms without warning.

Too scary for a wimp like me....
 

Yambor44

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i have been using my auto siphon to drain out most of the cleaner/sanitizer from my carboys so when i handle them they have ~1 gallon left in them, i also have them in milk crates or carboy haulers, i also always put them on top of a foam fatigue work mat rather than any other surface to keep them from getting damaged/broken.

i just bought a plastic barrel from us plastics, and will likely lean that way in the future. i have a couple buckets but am not really a fan of them other than for mixing up sanitizer and carrying gear.
I just started doing the same with my carboys as far as the egg crate with foam rubber in the bottom. Siphon is a good idea also.

I just ordered my 1st better bottle also. I think I will order some more buckets as well.

OP - Sorry to hear about this accident. I hope and pray you heal quickly, but more importantly completely.
 

Simphoto02

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I just hope you don't have Humana for your health insurance. Last time i did something like this, Not a brewing related injury, I was ripping a 10 foot long piece of oak for the last door to my new kitchen cabinets. I had just finish the cut, felt a bead of sweat running down my forehead, just as I hit the table saw switch, it hit my eye and i flinched sending my left thumb into the still spinning blade.
Made hamburger out of the pad of my thumb, just short of the bone (Thank God)
Anyway within 72 hours of the ER visit I started getting calls from Humana. The calls lasted for a week. They wanted to know if it was a Work related injury, product malfunction or other person's liability.

I told them to "Pay the FREAKIN' claim!! It was my own fault. They were fishing for ANY opening to have some one else pay for the coverage I and the misses have been paying for for so long, bastards.

Hope you heal up and get back to brewing. I hope you have a couple of month's worth kegged up and ready for "Medicinal Purposes"
 

golfguy819

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Hope you have a speedy recovery. I had a 6 gal carboy take a header off the counter last year when I was getting ready to use it. It was supposed to be it's mayden voyage. Anyway, the top shattered into pieces, but the bottom stayed whole. I went to pick it up, didn't see a piece sticking up and sliced my finger to hell. The sad thing is, I barely touched it.
 

HomebrewJeff

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In the interest of preventing this from happening to others, are there any contributing factors that you can think of? Was the water hot and the carboy cool (or vice versa)? Had the carboy been bumped against something? Anything you can think of?
Yea, those were my first thoughts as well. I don't using anything hotter then luke warm water in mine for cleaning, and the wort is at least 65-70F before I fill it.

I'm one of those swear-by-glass for fermenting, so I guess it's got me a little concerned. :(
 
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Glad you're (almost) OK and best wishes on the surgery as well.

When i used to use carboys, I would wrap them in filament packing tape and I highly recommend this to anyone that still wants to use a carboy:

Clean and dry the outside of your carboy. Starting from the neck, run a 3/4" wide strip of plastic packing tape, the kind with lengthwise filaments, down the side of the carboy under it and back up the other side. Do this about every 45* ~ 22.5*. Next, run several concentric bands around the carboy so the whole thing is criss-crossed, with a final band at the neck, tying up the loose ends from the vertical bands.

At least this way it it breaks, it'll stay relatively intact.
 
OP
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Thanks again everybody, the surgery was a success. It'll take up to four weeks to heal, but I now have movement (though still very painful) in all of my fingers. I still have no feeling in my thumb and index finger, but that should return.

I do have a supply of brews, and one still in a carboy. So at least, I'm not gonna be dry for the month or so.

As for any contributing factors, I don't know. I wash mine with luke warm water too, and had it in my arms when it broke. It was about half full, and it soaked me pretty well, so I know it wasn't hot. I'm wondering if there was a crack that I didn't see, and it just let go at the worst time. I had my left hand on the neck, my right hand holding the bottom, and was in the process of turning it upside down to drain. The bottom just broke off, causing my injury.

I like the idea of putting a web of tape on them. I'll do that to the remaining five carboys when my arm heals enough to use it. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

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Sorry to hear about your injury (forget about the loss of the carboy...life is much more precious).

I know it's too late, but I've used carboys since 1994 and have not lost one to date.

Whenever I add water to one it is ALWAYS in a milk crate. When it's full I will place it on a counter and use my auto-syphon until it is almost empty before picking it up...and then it's still in the crate.

If I need to shake it with sanitizer in in or such it stays in the crate until I pour the liquid out.

Just something to think about. :D
 
OP
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I like the idea of syphoning it to empty. I'll start doing that too. I have a Brew Hauler strap on all of my carboys, but maybe getting some milk crates is a good idea too. I take the Brew Haulers off when I wash them, so maybe I should get some milk crates to wash them in.
 

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Good to hear the surgery was successful. My distrust of large glass containers goes back to a pitcher of iced tea exploding in my hands when I was about 8. I was just moving it from the kitchen counter to the table, when it shattered.
 

EdWort

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Man oh Man, I'm sorry to hear about this. I'm glad your surgery when well.

I recommend forgetting the web of tape idea and selling the carboys and moving to buckets or Better Bottles (or both). Your back thank you later.

Hang in there.
 

Yambor44

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Rick,

Glad to hear the surgery went well! I think that there had to be a small fracture somewhere near the bottom. Probably from sitting it down a tad too hard when empty. I know I have misjudged the floor a few times with mine and thought I had busted it for sure. I love my glass carboys but as time goes on I feel I am rolling the dice. I busted one full of wine with another full of wort as I was placing it in my deep freezer/fermenter. I have three 6.5 gallon and one 5 gallon left. I just started using milk crates with foam rubber in the bottom this past weekend. I will always do that now.
 

jpowers1

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Wow, so sorry to hear about your mishap, glad to hear you are recovering. I have a 6.5 I think I will be selling in the near future...
 

TommyBoy

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I had a carboy get broke about 6 years in a cat fight. It was a Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout. I still can't decide which aspect of the incident I was more upset about. Loosing an expensive batch of not getting to see the fight. I was told that closed fist punches were thrown and landed by both women.

That's what you get sometimes when you work night shift and the party is at your apartment.
 
OP
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Just a quick update if anyone wants to know. I finally got the cast off, and will be working on getting it limbered and strengthened in the next few weeks. I do have a brace, but that's just to prevent further injury until I'm back to normal (whatever "normal" is), and I'm supposed to take it off several times a day. I still have no feeling in my index finger, but the feeling is coming back in my middle finger and thumb. Everything is stiff, but mostly pain free.

Now I need to get brewing again!:ban:
 
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