« on: July 20, 2011, 02:36:31 PM »
I'm not sure about some of those, but I've had similar issues with bottle infections. I had a run of infections I traced back to both expired starsan and a house bug. Now I use softened water and check the pH with a meter every time I use the starsan. I also alternate between starsan and a pH adjusted bleach solution. 1oz bleach and 1oz vinegar per 5gal. The pH should be between 6.5-7.5. I'll use starsan for the primary, bleach-water-vinegar for secondary/bottling, then switch it up the next batch, bwv for primary, starsan bottling, etc.
I like to use clear plastic tubing so I can easily inspect it for gunk. After a year or so it'll have enough little scratches in it that I'll replace it. But it's pretty cheap.
A long time ago I figured out the spigot on the bottling bucket can be taken apart and cleaned, and I found a bunch of gunk in there, but I couldn't tie that directly to any infection issues.
I probably lose 1/4-1/2gal in the bottom of the kettle. I don't worry too much about that.