Glass carboy explosion

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mikegrady

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Has anyone ever experience this. Been using this glass carboy for many years. Was fermenting a strong Belgian Ale (OG 1.078). Was 3 days into fermentation. Temp was 72 and heavy fermentation was over. Checked on it before going @ 7:30 PM and blow off tube was bubbling at a slow rate. Woke up the next morning to this (see pictures). Glass was all over the basement. 5" chunks hit the stucco wall 20 feet away and chipped the wall. Fine glass shards everywhere. Needless to say a very nice ale was sitting in a pool on the floor.
If someone had been standing next to it when it happened...not good. It baffles me how so much pressure could have built up that late in the fermentation process. The bung did not move one bit in then neck of the carboy but it was definitely in their tight, in hindsight probably too tight. I have to assume there was a latent failure of the carboy due to a condition that was undetectable to the naked eye. I am going back to plastic.

carboy explosion 2.jpg


carboy explosion 3.jpg
 
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Is there a broken carboy? I couldn't stop staring at that awesome wall.

The bung did not move one bit in then neck of the carboy but it was definitely in their tight, in hindsight probably too tight.
Did you have an undrilled stopper in there? I tend to keep airlocks on everything so stuff like this (specifically) does not happen.
 

Hoppity

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I had one shear in two, due to a clogged S-shaped airlock. Could you tell if the blow-off tube got clogged?
 
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Yikes! That's pretty frightening. Makes me glad I only secondary in glass.
I would assume there was some clogging of your airlock. Bung must have been tight enough that it was easier for a weakness in the glass to let pressure out than the bung/airlock.

I had a 3-piece airlock get clogged on a heffe which ended up blowing the lid off a bucket. Lid was 20ft away when I found it. I think that was also 2-3 days in, and my OG wasn't as high as your's. Since then I've always used a blowoff tube for at least the first 3 days of fermentation, especially if I have an aggressive yeast or a decent amount of wheat/oats/rye in the grain bill.
 

brick_haus

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Wow, glad nobody was hurt.

Now, A moment of silence for the Strong Belgian Ale...
 

Kevin79

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Haha, I can only imagine how often that picture is going to be used in this forum from this point on. You were just holstering that picture, waiting for the opportunity weren't you?

In all seriousness though, that's crazy. I could imagine a glass carboy cracking, or perhaps a small chunk breaking off from pressure. But from the pics and your description it looks like that thing went off like a grenade. Glad no one got hurt and hope the damage wasn't too bad.
 

Calder

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I always cringe and hold my comments when anyone says they have a blow-off and it is a small diameter tube pushed onto an airlock. I assume that is what you have from the tubing in the pictures.

I always use 1.25 inch diameter tubing that fits in the openings of my fermenters in place of the stoppers. I usually don't need it, but sometimes there is a lot of activity going through it that I would worry with anything smaller.

Nice wall, lots of wine, and a pool table too, Nice set-up. Very fortunate you don't have carpet.
 

MaddBaggins

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youch. I'd like to hear more from the OP about the possible cause of this disaster.
Me too. I've been using glass carboys for secondary for 17 years and never became worried until I started reading this forum.

Forums make you crazy...:cross:
 

day_trippr

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[...]I always use 1.25 inch diameter tubing that fits in the openings of my fermenters in place of the stoppers. I usually don't need it, but sometimes there is a lot of activity going through it that I would worry with anything smaller.[...]
Same here, every batch gets the big fat blow-off whether it needs it or not, no worries...

Cheers!

ab_nov_15_2014_11_sm.jpg
 

Bobcatbrewing42

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It is somewhat difficult to clean but I sometimes ferment in a sanke keg with a drilled cork that fits and a blow off tube. I can handle it with impunity and let it ferment in any kind of light. I really like to watch my yeast at work though and hate to lose that.
 

FloppyKnockers

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I like my glass carboy. I use it for apple wine and secondaries (which are rare). I treat it like the bomb that it is though. I once sacrificed a live chicken over the carboy during a pumpkin ale in hopes of satisfying the carboy gods not to blow the fugg up in my house before I can taste this beautiful nectar......it worked. My pumpkin ale was delicious!
 

beergolf

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Holy chit. I can't imagine how that could happen. That thing looks like a bomb went off..

I am glad I use buckets for most of my brews. I do have several carboys I use for sours and brett beers. They all live in milk crates.
 

betarhoalphadelta

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OldWorld

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The easy way to avoid it is to use aluminum foil wrapped around the neck with a tiny hole poked...if enough pressure builds up the foil will just be pushed off.

A gummed up airlock can build too much too fast. After a few days you can switch out to a regular old airlock.
 

ultravista

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There must have been a massive pressure build-up for a thick-walled glass carboy to explode. I cannot image what would have caused this.
 

day_trippr

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This was just a big ass bottle grenade.
You can cancel the consultation with Doctor Science...

Cheers! ;)
 

D-Train

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I don't know how there could be any other explanation... A half inch tube was used for blowoff, the bung was in there very tight, and the tube clogged from strong fermentation of a high gravity ale. The glass carboy wasn't built for pressure and exploded. Sorry to the OP, I hope the damage wasn't permanent because it looks like you have a very nice room there.
 

GHBWNY

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I like my glass carboy. I use it for apple wine and secondaries (which are rare). I treat it like the bomb that it is though. I once sacrificed a live chicken over the carboy during a pumpkin ale in hopes of satisfying the carboy gods not to blow the fugg up in my house before I can taste this beautiful nectar......it worked. My pumpkin ale was delicious!
Pumpkin ale and barbequed chicken. Yum.
 

GHBWNY

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I only use a glass carboy for the *rare* secondary and always do my primary in a bucket. I don't care if I can't see the yeast activity through glass. Fun, but who cares? If something is going to give, I want it to be a singular plastic object, not a thousand dangerous glass shards. That happens when we assume "this will never happen to me".
 

tjpfeister

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I think another possible problem is that many (im not saying the OP did, but maybe) people put their blow off tube too deep under water. This added head pressure makes it more difficult for a clog to clear, particularly in "small" hose (which I use with no problem all the time btw). Don't believe that 6" of head pressure makes a difference? Raise your tube up during active fermentation and watch how much faster it burps.

OP - condolences for the loss of your beer
 

tnance1337

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I've been pretty set on using plastic. I can be clumsy at times, and the thought of carrying 5 gallons of liquid in a glass container seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

But, I've never thought it was a ticking time bomb! Bottle bombs? Yeah...but carboy bomb? That's a first for me...

I'm no expert on glass, but I would guess that once you create a single point of intense strain enough to crack in one spot, the entire vessel would shatter (especially holding that much volume) due to the counter pressure design of glass?
 

philipCT

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Yeah, something similar has happened to me, though the carboy didn't explode as spectacularly as yours. I was using an S airlock where I should have used my regular big-ass blowoff tube - and I guess that freakin bung held in there like nobody's business! The airlock got blocked with blowoff, the pressure built, and the whole damned bottom of the carboy blew clean off leaving the entire top section pretty much intact.

Exploding Carboy Alert!

I now use stainless conicals for most brewing, but for 5g batches I still use carboys, however: I never handle my carboys anymore without work gloves. And, I keep them all in milk crates. And I ferment them in small top-opening display coolers with an STC controller. These are water tight so if the carboy blows, it's contained. This was a serendipitous discovery when I had that explosion :)

Sorry for your beer! Blow-off tubes are your friend!
 

bragona71

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I just shed a tear. my condolences!!! I hate to see that much beer go to waste! but you lost it in spectacular fashion, that's impressive
 
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mikegrady

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I use the standard home brew airlocks (not the S type) but I connect a 3' blow off tube running into a bucket of sanitized water.
 
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mikegrady

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It was drilled with a blow off tube that was bubbling 6 hours earlier. I don't get it.
 
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mikegrady

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i am heeding that suggestion and going with larger blow off tubes for sure.

yeah, just had to squeegee the floor. now i have an empty tap in the bar though. Damn!!

Bar.jpg
 

Zepth

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I think another possible problem is that many (im not saying the OP did, but maybe) people put their blow off tube too deep under water. This added head pressure makes it more difficult for a clog to clear, particularly in "small" hose (which I use with no problem all the time btw). Don't believe that 6" of head pressure makes a difference? Raise your tube up during active fermentation and watch how much faster it burps.
That is an interesting suggestion. One of those things I never thought about until you mentioned it. Personally I'm terrified of the blow off tube sucking the starsan back into the batch. Result of this is that I'll try to use less sanitizer in the bucket than the capacity of the tube.
 

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