Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

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Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby JayTee » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:58 am

Hi - I've recently been trialling using a 300W aquarium heater (immersion) in the bottom third of my 250L rum fermentation. I bought a German-made titanium heater and controlled it via a separate probe and controller as I thought it would be more reliable. The first fermentation was great, but the heater failed on the second fermentation. It failed 3 days into the fermentation when the ferment was pretty much complete and the yeast was dropping out of suspension presumably. I found a 2 inch band of baked on yeast on the aquarium heater. Bummer. That didn't happen the first time. Don't know what I did differently.

Has anyone else experienced a similar issue with immersion heaters? I really don't know what I did wrong the second time, and I'm thinking I may have to move to a RIMS set up if I can't get the immersion approach to be reliable. Would appreciate any comments please! :-)
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby coffe addict » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:50 pm

I've used aquarium heaters and found that they are quite reliable, the only difference is mine are usually toward the top 1/3.
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby Maxxx » Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:43 pm

I’ve had 2 x heaters in the last 4 years, both this “pet works” brand and both only 100 watt
Used in 200 litre ferments of both rum and vodka, always on the bottom of the fermenter, usually just tie the cord through the handle of a ceramic coffee cup to hold it down
The one that did break was only because I dropped it on the concrete.
Think they cost about S12 from the local aquarium supplies place and came with a 12months replacement guarantee
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby JayTee » Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:00 am

Thanks @coffe addict I think that might be the answer. I'm going to combine the top third placement of the heater with a circulation of the wash from bottom to top of the vessel for the whole fermentation.As this will keep the rum wash moving, I'm hoping this will keep the yeast from dropping out of suspension and busting my heater too ... :-)
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby woodduck » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:30 am

I wouldn't over complicate it. I think it only stuck to it because it was sitting in the yeast bed. I would try lifting it up a bit first before making a recirculation system. Plenty of blokes use these heaters without a drama.

Good luck
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby db1979 » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:36 am

The wash moves all by itself from the rising and falling of yeast as they produce CO2 and rise, then release the CO2 and fall.

I've had one of those cheap aquarium heaters, I put a stainless hose clamp on the bottom of it to help weigh it down, worked well until it decided to die on me. I've also got a more expensive one (about $30) that doesn't need extra ballast and it's still working fine.

Although, I don't use them much here in Brisbane.

:text-+1: agree with woodduck
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby db1979 » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:40 am

Also, if your fermenter is well insulated (rubber mat base and wrapped in a blanket for example) it really doesn't matter if the heater is near the top. You just need to make sure that the heater is immersed properly, which is harder to do at the start of the ferment as the density of the wash is higher, it lowers as sugar gets converted and the heater is less inclined to float. Seems only a problem with the cheap ones.
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby EziTasting » Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:52 pm

db1979 wrote:...
I've had one of those cheap aquarium heaters, I put a stainless hose clamp on the bottom of it to help weigh it down, worked well until it decided to die on me.


I might need to have a go at this as mine constantly floats to the top... haven't used it because of it...
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby RC Al » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:15 pm

What sort of controller was it, perhaps the heater didn't like it? SSR?

I would be inclined to trust the temp setting on a quality aquarium heater, just use a separate temp probe to double check and adjust the units own controller in future
Last edited by RC Al on Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby JayTee » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:11 am

Really appreciate all the helpful comments guys - thanks. I won't over-complicate it then. Woodduck is most probably right, it might have been in the yeast bed. I didn't have a floating issue with my one, but I'm guessing it's probably a bit heavier than some (titanium casing)
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Re: Aquarium heater burn out in rum wash

Postby JayTee » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:17 am

RC Al - just a basic temp controller with an attached probe. I bought from the same manufacturer as the titanium heater:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ERWPSXA/ ... 11_TE_item

I bought this heater:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005UN48IC/ ... 11_TE_item
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