Glass Carboy with a hole

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Blotto

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I'm new to home brewing, I just purchased a bunch of used equipment and have cleaned it a couple of times and I was going to brew my first batch on Saturday and realized that one of my carboys aquired a hole about half way up the side. It wasn't there on last Wednesday when I was cleaning it in preparation of my first brew. I haven't tested it yet to see if it will still hold liquid or if it is going to be a sprinkler coming out the side.
Is this common of carboys to "wear out" and aquire holes or is it more likely that something happened to put a hole in the side. The mark itself is less than a 1/4" on the inside and the hole is about 1 mm diameter on the outside.
Has anybody experienced anything like this with their carboys?

Thanks for your responses.
 

Priemus

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Nopes.

Its glass right? or is it a betterbottle?

Eitherway a hole there is either a fracture, or something you can nolonger effectively sanitise.
 

mattmcl

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I wouldn't use it. The hole creates a weak spot in the glass- it could end up coming apart once stressed (ie, once it's full, and you're carrying it).
 

emjay

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The poster above is right. Sanitation is the real issue, but I think there's even more to be concerned about.

Plastic fermentors pretty much become useless when you scrub them with an abrasive brush, because all the tiny scratches (even if you can't see them) harbor bacteria and it becomes nearly impossible to effectively sanitize. If some micro-scratches are able to turn a fermentor into junk, I'm pretty sure a rough, glass hole/crack will to. The beers you make in it are very likely to go bad - it's the one piece of your equipment that beer in its most vulnerable stages stays in contact with for an extended period of time.

Also, I think it's extremely important to mention that you NEVER buy plastic equipment used - stainless steel and glass are (usually) fine, as they can generally be sanitized very well (unless they have serious flaws like this carboy), but once the plastic stuff gets any significant amount of bacteria, you should throw it out (or use it to brew sour beers). I say this because it's a pretty safe assumption you got a bunch of plastic stuff off the same guy.

That being said, this kind of wear and tear is NOT normal, and I've never seen or even heard about it. In fact, I imagine I'd probably have thrown it out long before it could get even close to that bad, as it seems for a hole to develop, it's probably far from immaculate in the first place. In fact, it sounds like the equipment must have been SERIOUSLY abused.

I would try to get my money back, but even if that's impossible, I would NOT brew beer with that equipment - anything that touches your beer AFTER it's been boiled can easily infect it, and when you're dealing with used plastic equipment, it's impossible to tell what is and what isn't infected. Especially with the way it's apparently been treated, I wouldn't even take a chance - the beer will in all likelihood be wasted, costing not just the money for the ingredients, but your time and effort. And believe me, it will suck to wait 6-8 weeks only to find out the beer is undrinkable and that making another batch will take another 6-8 weeks!

If you can't return anything, I would throw out all the plastic equipment that touches your beer after it's been boiled (that MIGHT leave you with a spoon if it's just extract equipment lol) and buy new stuff to replace it. I know it really sucks, and obviously you were hoping to save money, but if you take a chance here and brew with it anyways, you will in all likelihood just end up wasting even more money (on ingredients, bottle caps, etc) - as well as all that time and effort I mentioned - only to have to throw it all out two months from now and buy new stuff anyways, which sucks even more, ESPECIALLY when you were just trying to save some money.

On a more positive note though (I think) - welcome to the addiction.
 
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Blotto

Blotto

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It is glass.

The hole wasn't there on Wednesday when I was cleaning and scrubbing. Then I looked at it Saturday and there it was.

Seems weird to me, I haven't been able to ask my roommate about it yet to see if it is something that he can tell me to explain it. Everything was solid on Wednesday.
 
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Blotto

Blotto

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Actually, I went home and tested the vessel with water to see if it would hold fluid expecting to see water spouting out and found that what was thought to be a hole is an external chip. There is no crack in the glass that translates to the inside of the carboy. Now I'm wondering if it may still be a weak spot and if there is a way to possibly repair it. I'm thinking of windshield repair.
During inspection last night I was looking for a line or crack that would have been visible from all angles and there is none.

I don't believe my room mate has a bb gun. The chip is more vertical than round, but that would have been a good guess, I didn't think of that.

Thanks again for your responses, very helpful to me.
 

theredben

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I wouldn't use a carboy with a crack/chip. Too much of a mess if the worst case scenario happens.
 

rexbanner

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The poster above is right. Sanitation is the real issue, but I think there's even more to be concerned about.

Plastic fermentors pretty much become useless when you scrub them with an abrasive brush, because all the tiny scratches (even if you can't see them) harbor bacteria and it becomes nearly impossible to effectively sanitize. If some micro-scratches are able to turn a fermentor into junk, I'm pretty sure a rough, glass hole/crack will to. The beers you make in it are very likely to go bad - it's the one piece of your equipment that beer in its most vulnerable stages stays in contact with for an extended period of time.
Not to be a dick, but I scrubbed the **** out of all my plastic buckets the first few times I brewed. 3 years later, I'm using the same buckets and have never had a single infection in nearly 40 batches. I've heard this same story before, and it almost caused me to replace my buckets, but if it ain't broke...
 

Priemus

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Not to be a dick, but I scrubbed the **** out of all my plastic buckets the first few times I brewed. 3 years later, I'm using the same buckets and have never had a single infection in nearly 40 batches. I've heard this same story before, and it almost caused me to replace my buckets, but if it ain't broke...
Consider yourself lucky then, I used PBR as my sanitizer for almost 2 years before I realized it wasnt a sanitizer and never had an infection.

mwah? sometimes you get lucky.
 

emjay

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rexbanner said:
Not to be a dick, but I scrubbed the **** out of all my plastic buckets the first few times I brewed. 3 years later, I'm using the same buckets and have never had a single infection in nearly 40 batches. I've heard this same story before, and it almost caused me to replace my buckets, but if it ain't broke...
What did you scrub it with? And what kind of beers did you make? Scratches would definitely create an issue, although the people who say it needs to be thrown out after 5-6, or 8-10, or however many uses are off their rocker, as far as I'm concerned.

One great thing about beer, is that it is often harder to infect than many people realize. I just opened my first bottle today of a bigger and even hoppier version of Pliny the Elder. I used leaf hops in a 4gal kettle at the time, and it caused so many problems and was clogging up everything, to the point where I just got a nylon mesh dryhop bag (literally as big as the bucket itself, and stretches around the sides) and dumped the wort/hops in it. Very little wort came out as the hops had absorbed it all, and I was so frustrated at that point, that, not even rinsing my hands, I just grabbed the bag squeezed all the wort right out of the hops, with all the wort flowing slowly over my hands.

10 weeks later, and the beer tastes amazing, despite being so exposed to bacteria that the only thing I could probably have done worse is spit in it. But the gigantic starter I made definitely helped by letting the yeast get a quick start on eventually producing 11% ABV, and as a IIPA, the antibacterial properties of the hops doubtlessly played a role as well. Had I done the same with an English mild, I probably wouldn't have been so lucky.

But if you ARE creating scratches in the fermentor, it's only a matter of time - each beer made in it is only going to create more bacteria in it, and cleaners/sanitizers can't properly tackle that. Keep in mind, even tiny scratches are like the grand canyon to those little critters, and they can grow to pretty significant numbers just in the shelter it provides. Eventually, there are enough of them in numerous scratches in the bucket, and you make a weaker beer, or use a yeast that gets a particularly slow start, and they gain a decent foothold. And once the beer is infected, it's no problem for them to cram into every single microscopic nook and cranny that the beer contacts, and that is why it's a really bad idea to re-use plastic equipment once it's been used with infected beer.

What you're scrubbing with also makes a difference. Some things aren't as bad as others, and if you stop scrubbing with something after only a few times, you'll probably get away with it - though I would probably repurpose a bucket for grain storage or something if I saw visible scratches somewhere that is in contact with beer. But, for example, using a carboy scrubber (meant for glass) on a Better Bottle or plastic bucket is much more likely to create problems than a rag/washcloth, and a soft sponge is a lot better than using the abrasive side of a sponge.

In the OP's case, it's impossible to be certain about how the original owner cleaned and in general treated the equipment, or if it's even been used with infected batches. In his case, especially considering the way the equipment seems to have been treated, it's impossible to tell if it ain't broke or if it is, and it would suck for a new brewer to waste time and money, and more importantly, be discouraged because some asshat was offloading his infected equipment on Craigslist or something instead of throwing it out.
 

rexbanner

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What did you scrub it with? And what kind of beers did you make? Scratches would definitely create an issue, although the people who say it needs to be thrown out after 5-6, or 8-10, or however many uses are off their rocker, as far as I'm concerned.
I used my carboy or bottle brush. You know, the kind sort of like a toilet brush. The bristles are pretty stiff. I even might have used copper wool once :drunk:

That's pretty cool that you were able to do that with the mesh strainer. Beer seems to be pretty resilient stuff. I mean, when you think about it, your fermenter and wort are never going to be 100% sterile when you pitch your yeast. Hops help keep the other stuff down, bad bacteria which is present but only in minuscule numbers compared to the couple billion yeast cells that were isolated and perfected in a lab. Then the ABV gets too high for much else to grow.

It's pretty cool when you think about it. It all just fits together very well.
 

IceFisherChris

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I WOULD NOT USE IT!!
Sorry for the caps but I would never mess around with a huge glass container that has structural problems. You really do not want to be holding that thing when it breaks apart and the glass shards slice all the way through your skin and tendons.
 

outside92129

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does it look like this (but smaller)?
http://softsolder.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/cimg3259-pellet-gun-hole-in-plate-glass-window.jpg

1/4" seems a bit small for a BB but that shape usually indicates some sort of small-point impact. Just rolling it or tipping it over onto a piece of gravel could do it.

As glass repairs go this is the "best" kind of damage to receive. It most likely won't radiate out and many a windshield has been repaired successfully with epoxy. But do you really want to take a chance with a fully carboy? I don't think it worth the risk to you (or a batch). My .02 : )
 

Prionburger

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Sounds like a defective carboy--must have had a razor thin wall that wore out.

I would not use it either, because it might break and hurt you, and it if doesn't break, oxygen coming through the hole or through whatever you patch it with will turn the beer into liquid-cardboard. I say shell out the 30 bucks for a better bottle. It's just not worth your life and limb to make beer in glass, as easy to clean as it is.
 
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