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Problem with Auto-Siphon

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Steiner

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I got an auto-siphon today. I've never racked to a secondary before so I thought I'd need one. However, when testing it today on a carboy full of water, I could not get it to work. It appears as if there would be an air leak somewhere, yet after my persistent checking, I found none. I separated the contraption and tested each individual piece, sucking on the end of the tubing to get it going. No problem. What am I doing wrong?

I submerse the auto-siphon in 6-8 inches (as directed) and pump the top part. However, when doing this, it acts more as a pump then as a siphon. The flow continues only as long as I pump it, and not much longer after. Also, there is a decent amount of air introduced (somehow) in the tubing while the liquid is flowing. Could someone please offer some advice. I have no idea what I am doing wrong on what seemed to be such a simple process.

This is even more urgent, as I am leaving tomorrow to be apart from my brew for a while. I am having a friend rack for me who has had minimal brewing experience (only while watching me). Racking will not be done til later, but I would like to figure it out to show him before I leave. Thanks a lot.
 

joejaz

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Don't pump it. Put siphon in and draw up once slowly, you will see liquid coming up and then push down and this should start siphon. Make sure you have tube connected to it.
 

DIY Brewing Company

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You have the wrong tubing size. The tubing needs to be a tight fit. If you read your instructions it will tell you the tubing size. I know it seems trivial but that is definitely your problem.
 

Funkenjaeger

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joejaz said:
Don't pump it. Put siphon in and draw up once slowly, you will see liquid coming up and then push down and this should start siphon.
That IS pumping it ;)

You need to pump it just enough to get the liquid far enough through the tubing for the siphon to start. If you do one full stroke as joejaz describes, that's usually enough, or a few small strokes in quick succession.

There is no magic about it - just like any other siphon, you need to get enough liquid through the tube to start the siphon - if it falls back into the fermenter after you pump it, you're not doing this right. Also just like any other siphon, if you get air bubbles entering the line somewhere (particularly where the hose connects to the cane) then you'll have problems. If there's air entering, you need to figure out where it's entering, and from there you can figure out how to stop it. The tubing size, as others have mentioned, is a very likely culprit.
 

Cregar

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Make sure your tube size is right.. I had the same problem when I first used mine, had to get one of those screw clamps to make a better seal. Works great now.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Sorry to ask the obvious, but is the vessel you are transferring to below the vessel you are transferring from? If not, that is why you are pumping not siphoning. Also, I hate add another two cents, but I hate those auto-siphons. It took me breaking two of them to find a better system. I now use a carboy hood with a racking cane stuck through it. You blow into the small hole to pressurize the carboy and this pressure flows the fluid through the cane and tube to start a siphon effect. No moving parts, less to sanitize, simply better. As it stands, if you can't return your auto-siphon, or use a plastic bucket fermenter (carboy hood won't work), your auto-siphon should last at least 5 batches if taken care of well.

Cheers and good luck!
 

JimC

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Boerderij Kabouter said:
Sorry to ask the obvious, but is the vessel you are transferring to below the vessel you are transferring from? If not, that is why you are pumping not siphoning. Also, I hate add another two cents, but I hate those auto-siphons. It took me breaking two of them to find a better system. I now use a carboy hood with a racking cane stuck through it. You blow into the small hole to pressurize the carboy and this pressure flows the fluid through the cane and tube to start a siphon effect. No moving parts, less to sanitize, simply better. As it stands, if you can't return your auto-siphon, or use a plastic bucket fermenter (carboy hood won't work), your auto-siphon should last at least 5 batches if taken care of well.

Cheers and good luck!

Wow, what are you doing to these poor auto-siphons? Mine has racked a few hundred gallons by now and is showing no signs of wear.

That said, blowing spit and whatever else is in your mouth into your beer doesn't seem like the smartest plan. :)
 

5 Is Not Enough

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JimC said:
Wow, what are you doing to these poor auto-siphons? Mine has racked a few hundred gallons by now and is showing no signs of wear.
Man I got an AS that I warped the hell out of by putting in too hot of wort, and it still works fine!

I'd recommend spending $.50 on a stainless steel hose clamp to ensure no air through the connection. I believe a #4 should be fine.
 

Bobby_M

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I've racked at least 200 gallons with the same autosiphon so I also wonder about the people who broke more than one. A whiffle ball bat is the yellow tube, not the clear one. Stupid humor.
 

Funkenjaeger

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Bobby_M said:
I've racked at least 200 gallons with the same autosiphon so I also wonder about the people who broke more than one. A whiffle ball bat is the yellow tube, not the clear one. Stupid humor.
I agree - I'm not up to 200 gallons, but I've used mine for more batches than I can count and never had a single sign of trouble. There's really not much to break - you don't have to put much force on it at all during use, so as long as you don't drop it, step on it, or dunk it in boiling water I don't see much to break.
 

Scimmia

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I think the most common problem people have is that they break the bent area when they're trying to pull the tubing off.
 

5 Is Not Enough

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Scimmia said:
I think the most common problem people have is that they break the bent area when they're trying to pull the tubing off.
Thats what a brief soak in hot water is for...
 

Funkenjaeger

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Scimmia said:
I think the most common problem people have is that they break the bent area when they're trying to pull the tubing off.
If people are careless enough to do that, they're going to have the same trouble with regular racking canes anyway (unless they get a SS one) - it's not like that weakness is specific to autosiphons. A quick shot of hot tap water works wonders, as does pushing off the tubing with your fingertips rather than trying to just yank it off.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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I must have picked the two worst auto-siphons on the planet:( Oh well...

As for sanitation, I use an inline air filter to blow through, like the one from morebeer.com. I highly recommend this technique over auto-siphoning even if the auto-siphons aren't the garbage I once thought.
 

Funkenjaeger

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Boerderij Kabouter said:
I highly recommend this technique over auto-siphoning even if the auto-siphons aren't the garbage I once thought.
I think that's a great technique and all, however it is only useful in the specific situation where you're siphoning from a carboy. While that's probably the most important situation for many of us, there are plenty situations where the autosiphon shines - siphoning from a bucket, keg, or brew pot instead of a carboy, or using it as a pump. I store starsan in a spare keg, and can easily get some out (to refill my spray bottle or whatever) with a few quick pumps of the autosiphon - and to sanitize the AS and tubing I can just put the end of the tubing in the sanitizer as well, and pump until the whole tube is filled with sanitizer, and let it sit. Also great for cleaning - you can pump some cleaner through it, let it sit, then pump some water through before doing a final rinse.
 

Scimmia

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5 Is Not Enough said:
Thats what a brief soak in hot water is for...
Funkenjaeger said:
If people are careless enough to do that, they're going to have the same trouble with regular racking canes anyway (unless they get a SS one) - it's not like that weakness is specific to autosiphons. A quick shot of hot tap water works wonders, as does pushing off the tubing with your fingertips rather than trying to just yank it off.
hey, I haven't done it, but I've seen a couple of threads with people complaining about the autosiphon, and this seems to be the thing that comes up most. Just throwing it out there for the people that were wondering how you can break an autosiphon.
 

rabidgerbil

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Funkenjaeger said:
there are plenty situations where the autosiphon shines - siphoning from a bucket, keg, or brew pot instead of a carboy
Why on earth would you siphon FROM a keg? Why not just hook up your gas line and push the liquid out?
 

Germey

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rabidgerbil said:
Why on earth would you siphon FROM a keg? Why not just hook up your gas line and push the liquid out?
I only have one regulator, and I don't always want to disconnect anything from the Kegerator to run an accessory line. Or sometimes I am siphoning someplace else and don't want to disconnect the bottle. Gravity works great.
 

Funkenjaeger

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rabidgerbil said:
Why on earth would you siphon FROM a keg? Why not just hook up your gas line and push the liquid out?
Because I'd have to yank one of the two kegs in my kegerator out to reach the tank, disconnect both gas lines, pull the tank, regulator, hose, manifold, and both gas lines out - use it to push from the keg - and then do that all in reverse to put it all back in the fridge. If I dragged the keg and whatever I was transferring into over to the fridge, I could save quite a bit of that work, but even then it's still considerably more work than sticking the autosiphon in and giving it a quick pump.

Even if I set up some kind of dedicated external line for auxiliary use like this so I didn't have to yank things out of the fridge, it would still cost a lot more to set up than just buying an autosiphon, and just like the carboy cap siphoning method, it would only cover ONE particular scenario. If I already had a spare tank and regulator and hose and fittings just lying around unused, I'd probably consider doing it the way you suggest, but I don't.

And, it sounds like you are assuming I would be transferring beer - in my case, the only thing I'd be siphoning out of a keg would be sanitizer, which I store in a spare keg that does not seal properly (thus its use for sanitizer storage) - in which case it'd be rapidly leaking CO2 the entire time I was trying to transfer if I wanted to do it the way you suggest.
 

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