I am officially a dumbshit. You knew that. Shut up.

Some time ago I built what is basically a very big homemade refrigerator for two reasons: First, so I could control how my beer fermented. For that reason, this kind of very big homemade refrigerator is known among home brewers as a ferm chamber. Second, home brewers seem to be gadget freaks who like to knock together a lot of their own brewing equipment out of found objects. They most often turn beer kegs into kettles to boil beer in, for instance.

I made my ferm chamber by lining the space under a work bench with foam insulation, then using a chilling coil salvaged from a dehumidifier to keep it cool. It used to work pretty well, until it didn’t. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with it, other than it didn’t get cold any more. The compressor kicked in, I could hear something circulating, but when I came back to it later it wouldn’t be cold. I read that sometimes the coolant leaks out and you have to take it in to get it recharged. I would rather pay to replace it with an all-new cooling unit, so I started hunting around for a small fridge.

I finally found one today, but while I was sizing up the job of tearing out the old unit and replacing it, I plugged it in one last time to confirm that it didn’t work. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. I thought that was unusual, so I plugged a fan into the outlet, and it didn’t work, either. That’s when I realized that I am officially a dumbshit.

The outlet is wired to a circuit that I ran directly from the breaker panel when I was putting up fluorescent lights in the corner of the basement that I rather grandly refer to as the brewery. They were ordinary workshop lights with pull-chains to turn them on and off. Eventually I got tired of stumbling into the dark corner, flailing in the dark for the ends of those pull chains, so I wired up a switch at the foot of the stairs. Presto! No more stumbling around in the dark.

I don’t remember if I built the ferm chamber before or after I cut the switch into the circuit. Doesn’t matter. The only important thing is, I wired the chiller to the same circuit that the lights are on, so whenever I turn the lights off, the chiller is turned off, too. And that’s why the ferm chamber hasn’t been keeping my fermenting beer cool. Dumb.

Dumb dumb dumb.

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