I recently got tangled up in multiple incorrect assumptions trying to troubleshoot a problem.
I changed to a new design beer fermenter that I really like (Fermonster).. The smooth plastic (P.E.T.) vessel is easy to clean and clear so easy to see the beer fermenting inside.
BUT, there has to be a "but" or why write about this? I wasn't getting good bubbler action. When fermenting beer the yeast microbes eat dextrins (sugars) and expire CO2, which will build up pressure inside an unvented fermentor. The bubbler is a simple air lock that allows CO2 to escape but not allow room air back in, to prevent contamination. Over decades of home brewing I am familiar with a pattern of initial pressure build up and slow tapering off as the yeast run out of sugar to consume. I was not getting a proper gas tight seal so no reliable bubbler action.
The Fermonster uses an o-ring seal in the screw on lid and that was the obvious suspect. When I contacted the manufacturers customer service I was advised to watch two videos describing how to properly install the o-ring... I watched the video before filling out the contact form, and believe it or not, I already knew how to install o-rings. The customer service guy (nice enough) kept insisting that I view the videos again and that the o-ring is harder to install than it seems.
I was suspicious of the o-ring seal integrity and macgyvered a DIY gasket from some dense foam sheet I had laying around to put on top of the o-ring. It seemed to help but after a few days the bubbler action was still not 100% (decayed too quickly).
Being accustomed to encountering incompetence I decided to second guess the o-ring size. After way too much time making difficult measurements with an old swedish vernier caliper (that may be older than I am), I determined that the only standard value o-ring sold that fits, is what we had.
Another data point, the fermenter maker sells a lid wrench for unscrewing tight lids. The customer service guy suggested that the lids get tight from the pressure built up during a fermentation.... cough, not even close. With a bubbler the internal pressure is vented, so close enough to atmospheric pressure to be considered the same. Lids get tight for other reasons.
I bought a wrench for tightening, as my arthritic fingers are not as happy as they were when I was younger tightening stuff .
Long story much shorter... I finally figured out that the problem was the hole in the rubber stopper was too loose around my bubbler tube, causing the gas leak. After I corrected that seal, the bubblers started bubbling properly.
I incorrectly ASSumed that the o-ring was the problem. The customer service guy ASSumed I was on the right track asking me to watch lame "how to install an o-ring" videos over and over.
Two ASSumptions did not cancel but actually reinforced.
Customers (like me) can be wrong in any number of ways.
Relax in southern comfort on the east bank of the Mississippi. You're just around the corner from Beale Street and Sun Records. Watch the ducks, throw back a few and tell us what's on your mind.
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