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Ventilation and Fire Safety

I am getting back to brewing after a (too long) hiatus owing to the birth of my daughter, moving, and general busy-ness (in fact, when I logged into the forum this morning, I see that I hadn’t logged in since 2006! – the brewing hiatus has only been since 2010, though).

Anyway, I always brewed indoors, as I had no choice. I did split-pot full-batch boils on the stovetop. Now that I have a real house, I have new options. I’m sure it will take me some time (years, decades) to finally settle into a setup I’m completely satisfied with, but as an initial matter, I have a Blichmann floor burner w/ leg extensions and natural gas conversion kit on the way. While I enjoyed the comfort and weather-proof aspects of indoor brewing, I will also appreciate having the whole batch in one pot and not challenging my cooktop to the brink of its limits.

I have a wooden deck off the back of my house with a screened in gazebo (about 12’ diameter hexagon) w/ ceiling fan on the deck. I also have an outdoor gas line on the deck, currently used for my grill.

My current thinking is that I would brew inside the gazebo. But reading the Blichmann floor burner manual, I am wondering if this is a feasible/safe plan. The manual warns, “NEVER operate on soft, combustible or uneven surfaces like dirt, gravel, wood or asphalt” and “NEVER operate indoors, in a garage, under an overhang, porch, deck, carport or similar structure.” It also states, “ALWAYS OPERATE OUTSIDE ONLY, AT LEAST 30FT FROM OTHER STRUCTURES.”

So, I realize, they have liability issues and want to include these warnings to cover themselves in case of mishaps. But how seriously should I take these warnings? 30ft? Do, I need to build a concrete slab 30 feet away from my house to brew on? My driveway is asphalt – I can’t even brew there? Do I need to scrap my plan of brewing on my wooden deck? Is the gazebo out of the question? I know people brew in their garage with these with doors open – yet, according to the Blichmann manual that is a no-no.

Can others who have experience with this shed some light on the feasibility and practical safety of my plan to brew in the gazebo?

Cheers

A fire extinguisher close by would be a good start. I think you could get away with putting some Wonderboard or some other fire proof backer board under the burner. Right in the middle puts it around 6’ from the sides of the gazebo, it is no 30’ but that does sound like overkill. I’m sure the instructions are trying to protect Blichmann from law suits.

I would be more concerned about the amount of moisture that will be going into the ceiling of the gazebo. Boiling with the top off produces a tremendous amount.

You can’t be too safe so in the end it will have to be your own judgement.

Oh, and welcome back.

What you might want to do is go to home depot and get a piece of Durarock tile backer board. It is a 1/2" thick concrete and fiber backing used as a substrate for tile.

You could cut a square of this and put it under your burner and if you really wanted, in your gazebo, use other pieces to protect any nearby wood.

This would definitely solve the problem.

Welcome back. :cheers: I’ve brewed in my garage for about 8 yrs. with minimal side effects. Some twitching and slurred speech is expected.

Wonderboard underneath would be good to prevent any heat transfer and help if you have a boil-over. I wouldn’t worry about the surrounding structure, though.
You’re already using a gas grill there. If your flame is rolling up the side of the kettle, turn it down.

Check out the Diversitech mats they should protect your surface.

http://www.amazon.com/GP-30-C-The-Original-Grill-Pad/dp/B0009F15J6/ref=pd_sim_sbs_lg_1

I also highly recommend picking up a CO detector and some box fans to move the air. I’m a garage brewer and have had zero issues.

Some of those rules sound like they expect you to use it as a turkey fryer with a big pot of boiling hot oil. The cheapo burner I have has all of those of rules and even a few more. I guess when turkey frying was the fad people burned their houses/garages down with an oil boilover that then caught fire. Boiling water/wort would not be as dangerous. Common sense would be your best guide.

I have to brew on my wooden deck. I have a line hooked into my NG line. I use a 3 tier structure, but my BK jet burner is only 6" from the deck. I put a piece of 4’ x 4’ piece of concrete board and roll my rig onto it. I bought some cheap ceramic tile that was on sale and slide 2 layers under the burner and surrounding it. The tiles cover everything except where the casters are. Never have had an issue. If your deck is treated lumber and it gets hot, the pine resin will draw to the surface. Can’t wait for the day where I have a nice garage to house all the brew bologna.

I brew in the garage with the large door open. Have not had a problem.

Also agree that the 30 feet recommended by the burner manufacturer is to protect them from lawsuits. That figure sounds about right for frying a turkey.

Sounds like a bunch of CYA to me, and I agree probably geared more towards people frying turkeys. Your wort isn’t flammable, and even if you somehow knocked over your burner you’re unlikely to start a fire unless you keep lighter fluid and oily rags around it. :slight_smile:

Make sure the surface you work on is level and sturdy. Non-flammable would of course be a plus but as long as its not around blatant kindling you will be fine. I brew on my wood deck all the time without incident. In poor weather I brew in my garage, with the door open. The primary byproduct of a properly functioning burner is CO2, which unlike carbon monoxide is perfectly harmless provided you still have plenty of oxygen available. Obviously in an enclosed space you could have an issue as the CO2 displaces the oxygen, so make sure you have ventilation. If you feel lightheaded its time to go get some fresh air, but it really shouldn’t be an issue if you leave the door open. A carbon monoxide detector wouldn’t hurt, as the burner will produce some CO, particularly if its not burning cleanly for some reason. But personally I’ve never bothered with this.

Just use common sense, and you’ll be fine. Happy brewing.

Thanks for all the replies! I took the advice of getting some concrete backerboard and will set the burner on top of that. Already have a fire extinguisher mounted in the gazebo – keep it there 'cause the grill is nearby, too. I am hopeful the ceiling fan will dissipate the steam enough to avoid any moisture issues with the ceiling, as it is a nice stained wood ceiling – we’ll see how it goes with the first batch on the new set up. I will temporarily move a CO detector there, too, just to confirm there are no issues with that.

Do you garage brewers have ceiling/steam issues? How do you deal with it? I am not sure how far into the winter (Chicago) I will keep brewing in the gazebo, so may need to consider garage brewing as well (though would need to use propane rather than natural gas there).

Eventually, I’d like to take my whole setup to an outbuilding we have right off of our driveway, which would be the perfect brewhouse if I solve the lack of water, natural gas, or heat (on the plus side, it does have electricity, phone jacks, and cable tv outlets) – would be easy to install a big hood vent in there – windows all around, too.

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